The #MyWorkflow series asks educators who are active creators on social media to share how they do their work. Today we speak with the delightful Vicky Loras. A proud Canadian transplanted to stunning Zug, Switzerland, Vicky and I have been following one another on Twitter for quite a while now. While we have never met, I don’t find it difficult to get to know Vicky through our asynchronous relationship, as her dedication and passion for teaching and educational entrepreneurship beams through her social media presence. I’ve always been fascinated to speak to a nomadic educator like herself with such diverse, global experiences. Here’s our chance to get a taste.
How do you pay the bills?
I have three jobs that I love:
I work most of the time at the language school my sister Eugenia and I founded. It has been in operation since 2012: The Loras Network. We teach English to students of all ages and levels, organise children’s events where they learn through fun activities, and also educate teachers. We absolutely love it. Even though we work countless hours for this, we enjoy it so much and we work very well together. We have worked as a team for almost twenty years!
My second job is working part-time at The Business School of Zug, the city where I live in Switzerland. I teach Business English to adults there. It is an amazing environment and I have wonderful colleagues and students.
My third job (and relatively new and completely different from what I have ever done) is the new company I have with my sister and her husband. We deal in real estate in Greece and in the US (Miami) and the company is called Kyaneous – my sister is very business-savvy and her husband is a financial analyst – I am learning so much from them both and we are doing well so far!
What regular activity brings you little money but loads of happiness?
Ooh there are so many things that bring me happiness and I do regularly with great pleasure – such as learning with and from other educators, especially on social media (Twitter is my all-time favourite) and at conferences and workshops. I love blogging too.
What’s your current phone? Which phone do you miss? What will be your next one?
My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Alpha and it is my favourite so far! I love the camera – the best photos ever, the big screen, the shape and how I work with it. It has a super battery life as well. I do not miss my previous phones at all! My next one will definitely be a Samsung again. I am very pleased with it.
What’s your current laptop? Which laptop do you miss? What will be your next one?
The laptop I have now and have had for four years is a Hewlett Packard Pavilion with a great 17” screen. It is truly my favourite so far for many reasons. I love the big screen and it also doubles as a tv (I do not have one – I gave it up three years ago, as I never had time to watch it and in Switzerland you pay for it even if it is not cable!). I watch the news (always CBC) on it every day, movies and sometimes Swiss news shows as well. I have also dropped my laptop twice (very bad falls, those ones that you pick it up with closed eyes expecting to see it smashed) and nothing happened to it!
My next laptop will most probably be an HP again. A big one again!
What apps and/or methods do you use to stay productive?
I love playing music when I am working. I even have light background music playing in most of my classes and the students love it too! When I get back home or during breaks I play music again, eat lots of chocolate (Switzerland is the best place for this) and usually work across my sister – we motivate each other a lot and that keeps us very productive!
I also have a paper diary for my schedule and I have also split the pages in two; one column for the schedule and one is the to-do list. I write each task with a box next to it and when I do that task, I tick the box and cross it out with a thick marker. I love the satisfaction every time I cross something off the list!
Which apps do you check persistently, even if you wish you didn’t?
Twitter – I tried Facebook too, but it didn’t really work for me so Twitter is my favourite. I love all the ideas I get, the things I learn, the new educators and organisations I connect with. I have learned a great deal and continue learning every single day – and that is not an exaggeration!
How do you carry your gear?
I have two backpacks – a Victorinox one that I have for light things, but my heavy-duty one is a backpack with wheels. I carry a truckload of things every day and that can be bad for the back. The wheels help tremendously and it fits lots and lots of things.
What other hardware rarely leave your bag?
My chargers! I am out of the house literally from the morning until the evening and I need them – for my phone and my laptop too. Sometimes I take my Samsung tablet as well.
What piece(s) of analogue technology is a must in your life?
My diary that I mentioned before – I map out my whole week in it and whenever I forget to take it from home, I feel terrible. Even though I love tech, as far as calendars go, I have not tried to use an electronic or online one so far.
What drink, snack, or food sits next to you when you’re being creative?
Coffee until 2 or 3 pm at the latest. I already drink quite a lot so if I drink more after that time, I bounce off the walls : ) After that time, I drink black tea which I love!
I always have chocolate with me – Swiss chocolate is the best. I am an absolute chocolate lover. Any kind is great for me, apart from white! For snacks, I also love fruit or vegetable sticks but usually chocolate wins : )
Very often I have to eat lunch or dinner while I am working, so I will either have something easy with me, like a sandwich or a salad or both. If I am at home, I usually cook (Greek cuisine is my favourite – my parents are originally Greek!) and I love cooking (my dad is a former restaurant-owner and has taught me everything I know about cooking).
When working, do you prefer the cafe, library, couch, office, kitchen table, or other?
My favourite places to work are my office / classroom and cafes too! Because at my language school we teach groups of 1 to 5 people, our classrooms are small and double as our offices too. They are very cosy and we love how we have fixed them up!
Zug, my city, has really nice cafes and I love working from there too. My favourite is a British-style cafe that is nice and calm and the people there are very nice.
I go to the library sometimes to study for my Masters program (I am doing a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), but I prefer my office and the cafe to study as well because there is background music which I like.
When working, do you need quiet, ambient noise, speakers, or headphones?
I cannot work in quiet spaces – they drive me crazy! If I am alone, I have music on – not too loud, except if I am doing something that I need to psych myself up for – then I turn up the volume! If I am somewhere where there are other people, headphones for sure. I love love love music and cannot be without it.
If it’s one of the latter two, what’s on your playlist?
I love Spotify so I have lots of playlists on there. It depends on what mood I am in, or if I need to work calmly – then I play some nice soul music (I love Marvin Gaye and Al Green), or country music, that makes me happy. I am a huge fan of the 80s (Duran Duran, I see you ; ) and have a huge playlist of that decade too – Duran Duran, A-ha, Simple Minds, Tears for Fears and it just goes on and on!
If I need to psych myself up, it is surely rap and hip-hop (Kendrick Lamar is my favourite, he is just amazing – a true poet and musician).
Morning, afternoon, evening, or the witching hour?
I usually use the very early morning for emails and reading a bit (I wake up at 06:00 or 06:30 usually on my own, before the alarm goes off, which I have just in case). Because I do not sleep much anyway, with 5 or 6 hours being enough if I even manage that, I also work pretty late in the evening too – my sister also works late after she puts her kids to bed and has finished doing things – so we message each other with new ideas or what we are doing : )
What’s one piece of advice you have for people that have difficulty with their workflow?
I would say they need to find things that make the happy while they are working and trying to be creative: do they like working to music? Great playlists always help. Do they need to experiment with places to work? They should do that and see what works for them. There are always ways to be more productive and creative.
How can we find and connect with you online?