When people hear that I work from home, there’s always this twinge of jealousy that fills the conversation. But if you’re like me, sitting around in your pajamas and doing work from the couch can become just as monotonous as a cubicle under fluorescent lighting.
I believe the real reason to be jealous that I work from home is because as long as I have Internet, I can work from absolutely anywhere.
During my 7-year stint as a freelancer, I’ve found that changing my work location helps keep my mind fresh and prevents the dreaded creative block. And – perhaps more importantly – it gives me a reason to put on pants and go out in the real world.
So… Where do you go?
In today’s post, I’d like to take you through some places that freelancers can work when you want to get out of the house. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have other ideas to add.
Your local library is a quiet, clean and temperature controlled. Many libraries even have comfortable chairs, open tables, beautiful plants and some even have private desks. All this and more for the cost of a library card!
Some libraries will have a public WiFi available, others may require you to use one of their computers. If that’s the case, hotspot your phone and hop online. Alternatively, you can visit the library when all remaining work is offline and enter a supreme state of focus.
2. Coffee Shop
Freelancers have become notorious for making coffee shops their office away from their home office. It’s become so bad that some coffee shops are taking special measures against long time squatters.
Coffee shops attract freelancers because all you need is a few bucks for a drink, a table and maybe an electrical socket – and you’re in business.
Yet, you may be crossing the line and impacting the coffee shop’s business. Occupying a table for hours on end prevents new paying customers from having a seat. Follow this coffee shop etiquette to help make coffee shops love freelancers again:
- Visit outside of common busy times (breakfast and lunch)
- Make a purchase at least once every hour
- Share your table with another freelancer
3. Your Gym
Have a gym membership? Now you also have a short term, odd smelling office. Both my regular gym and my rock climbing gym have free Wi-Fi that I can access as a member.
Most gyms have tables near the entrance you can use. All that’s missing is your laptop.
It’s polite to mention what you’re doing to the employees – at least the first couple of times. All you need to say is something like, “Do you mind if I use my laptop here for an hour or so?” As long as you actually are a gym member, they’ll likely be fine with it.
4. The Bookstore
The bookstore is just the sellout version of a library. If you need a space with a bit more noise, this is a great option. (Does anyone else have trouble working in complete silence, or is it just me?)
It’s in every bookstore’s best interest to give you comfy areas to explore a new book, hoping you’ll like it and take it home. They’ve invested heavily in creating a comfortable environment that connects people with books.
That comfy place is also great for getting some work done. Most bookstores offer public Wi-Fi, and even have a small cafe to keep your fueled on caffeine. Again, you’ll want to follow similar coffee shop etiquette rules to keep bookstores loving freelancers.
5. A Hotel Room
Have a massive project that requires complete isolation and focus? Spring for a hotel room.
Maya Angelou employed this technique even when she was in her hometown. The hotel room served as her sanctuary to focus on her craft and minimize distractions. Being able to shut herself in allowed her to reach deeper levels of thought, craft her words carefully and stay away from the plethora of focus stealing items around her house. If it worked for such a legend, it’ll probably work for you.
Spending money on a hotel room is quite expensive, but reserving this move for when you need to dominate a massive project will more than pay for itself.
6. Coworking Space
You’ve probably heard of coworking spaces before. But they’re so great that I couldn’t pass them up as an option since they’re literally built for freelancers.
Coworking spaces have open rooms, spread out tables and clusters of desks. Many even offer more private rooms at an increased rate. These unique spaces were designed specifically to provide a home to freelancers who want to interact with other people.
Some coworking spaces even offer day passes, allowing you to only go when it’s truly needed.
One benefit, and perhaps drawback, is that interesting conversations happen to spring up in these spaces. I was working in one the other day and got invited to dinner with a whole new group of people. Talk about an easy way to get some networking done!
7. The Park
Now, when I say the park, what I really mean is anywhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. (If your park does have Wi-Fi, let me know – I’ll need to move there.)
The advancement of technology has provided us with these little things called hotspots. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s essentially portable Wi-Fi. Most smartphones have this capability, or you could purchase a hotspot device. Just make sure you’ve got a decent data plan if you’re using your smartphone and plan go out often, or else you may get stuck with an unexpected bill at the end of the month!
Either way, this little piece of technology let’s you work anywhere – even the park on a nice day.
It Pays to Leave the House
Moving to a new environment isn’t just a nice change of pace. Your environment impacts your ability to be productive, for better or for worse. Multiple studies have shown that background noise, humidity level and presence of other people all play a role in your productivity.
Making it a habit to work outside of the house may actually improve your income by increasing your productivity. You’ll discover what types of environments you prefer, and which ones destroy your ability to work.
Did I miss any valuable places to work? Which places do you like to visit when you need to work outside of the house? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.