Be creative when selecting office spaces.
1) Know your own nature. I live on an organic farm in a two story “cabin” with warm wood walls, a flower garden, ten miles of hiking trails and a semi-private skinny dipping pond. I’d let over a full year pass before I admitted that for me, it wasn’t a near perfect working environment.
I grew up in New York. My mind often requires people, noise (subdued) and movement to pull off the acrobatic feats freelancing full time requires. People watching inspires me, gets my creative juices flowing. Too much city, however, disorients me. I also require down time, being grounded in the natural world. Weekly combinations of couch writing and café writing balances me — keeps me at my most prolific.
Know yourself. Ninety percent of artist retreats are offered in rural locations. If country based solitude is the key to your artistic soul, wonderful, congratulations. You have so many great options. If you are part city mouse — consider alternatives. Cafes, hotels lobbies, train cars, sleepy bars, can all be wonderful places to get good work done.
2) Be creative. Campgrounds and other makeshift office spaces. A few years ago, I spent about six of the warmer New England months renting out my loft in Providence on Airbnb. When somebody rented my apartment, I went to campgrounds. My favorite early fall-time campground was located on Cape Cod. After sunrise, I drank coffee. Then my dog and I walked two miles through a soft pitch pine needle forest to the ocean and back. When we returned, my dog crawled under the car to sleep. I sat down at my makeshift office. My best rested against a tree trunk (the tree also offering shade for my screen). I plugged my computer into the electrical outlet, set it on a tiny wooden lap desk my friend built and got to work. In the afternoon, I watched crows darting around pine trees, cutting through clear blue sky. I often shared dinner — store bought lobster and wine with the other campground occupants (more than a few of whom were renting their homes out for the summer and living in RV’s).
Possibilities for creative space are endless. Just make sure your central focus is an “office” where you can spend hours focusing on work.
3) Café checklist. Cafes are an obvious choice for whittling away at some of the tasks at your day job.
Personal tastes are eclectic and varied. Learn what environment works for you.
My personal tastes include: a) High top tables and/or cushy chairs; b) free WiFi; C) an electrical outlet; d) dark lighting; e) staff that are friendly, but not overly attentive; f) mellow singer/songwriter type music; g) good coffee and salads.
Always be conscientious of your environment. If it truly is a café where seating is limited and the owners work hard to pay rent — stay less time and/or purchase more food.
I keep my café budget at a fixed rate — generally around $30-40 weekly or so. If it is a place where I feel compelled to purchase more food, I limit my café days to three.
Things to include in pack:
Earphones, music, backup batteries. A notebook to handwrite in for people watching/journaling and manageable to-do list.
Things to Avoid
- Corporate chains
- Places where too many people know you by name and distract you.
- Nasty café owners (see story above)