Why You Need a Designated Work Space Outside Your Home

On Tuesday I wrote briefly about how I go into work mode when I sit here:

Photo 09-06-2015 08 54 48

This is my go-to spot when I can’t get my brain in gear to do any work at home. Which is often. But as soon as I sit here (which is where I am right now) — BAM, work happens. Writing, usually. There’s no internet, which helps, but even if there were, I know I’d still find it easier to get shit done.

Technically, I do have a designated work space at home. I have a gigantic desk (ahem, dining table), but somehow it’s so much harder to get work done there. Probably because I don’t JUST do work when I’m sat there. Big mistake, Marston. I guess my brain now associates that space with fucking around. It will be hard to break that habit. But maybe I don’t need to, since I can just come here.

And actually, it doesn’t even have to be here. I just have to go somewhere that is not my home, where I can sit without being disturbed. Cafes work. Pubs work. Restaurants work (although they are trickier, since you’re often expected to leave after you’ve eaten). In my brief experiment with a co-working space, I found that they DON’T work. People talk to you in co-working spaces. There’s a sort of ‘I’m going to be here all day’ vibe too, which, for me, leads to the inevitable fucking-around I was trying to avoid. Obviously, there’s also internet in co-working spaces, which is not necessarily a good thing.

So if you, like me, struggle to get your shit together and start work when you’re at home, I highly suggest going somewhere else to work. Here are a few tips:

Go Somewhere Without Internet

This isn’t 100% necessary — but I do recommend not ever logging on to the internet in the place you go. If you have to request a password and type it in before you can get on the internet, that’s cool. Just don’t ever do that. It’s a barrier to entry that means you can’t just hop online like you do at home. But if you do it once, you’ll do it again. So don’t do it in the first place, okay? If you connect to the net, you’re doomed to three hours of Facebook + zero work.

Save Your Internet Jobs for Later

Obviously there are some tasks you NEED the internet for — answering emails, publishing blog posts and shit like that. In my experience, it’s better to save those jobs for later. Once I’ve spent some time in my work zone getting shit done, I find it so much easier to do the little internety jobs when I get home. I’m already feeling productive, which naturally makes me more inclined to do more work, and I also don’t have that lingering ‘there’s more important things I should be doing’ feeling that arises when I haven’t yet done my ‘real’ work; this leads to me fucking around because ‘I can’t do this work until I’ve done that work’. UGH.

Plan What You’re Going to Do Before You Leave

This is crucial. You need to know what work you plan to do before you sit down, otherwise you may find yourself twiddling your thumbs, staring into space, or looking up Facebook on your phone. Also, perhaps even more importantly, you need to plan what you’re going to do in case there IS something you need the internet for. You can grab anything you need from the web before you head out the door. But only if you know what it is you need. Working on some client work? Have your research notes ready before you leave.

Find a Place You Like and Stick to It

I’m incredibly lucky to have this weird unused table getup in a shopping centre a 15 minute walk from my home. I can come here any time of day, and I don’t even have to buy a coffee. You may not be so lucky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take of advantage of the reason this works: I sit here, something in my brain flips, and I am in work mode. The same thing can happen for you, if you’re consistent. Maybe just getting out of your home will be enough for you, but I’ve found there are a few things I need: a table and a chair, and no internet. Well, I guess those are the only requirements. My laptop helps too, I guess.

Have a Back-Up Place

It’s a good idea to have a few places to work from. Sometimes all these tables are taken and I have to go sit at the Starbucks downstairs. I still manage to get in to work mode pretty easily when I go there, but I don’t like it as much. (I have to buy coffee for starters.) Maybe your favourite cafe will be closed for renovations, or only opens on certain days. Or maybe you just get bored of sitting in the same place day in, day out. You need to know what you’ll do if you arrive at your chosen place and for whatever reason can’t use it.

And, well, that’s really all there is to it. And, as a bonus, if you separate your home and work space, you’ll be able to relax properly when you’re at home, instead of constantly feeling like you have to work. Plus you’ll leave the house every day, which can be something of a rarity for freelancers.

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    8 Comments

    1. I think my place to work will be a library or maybe Barnes & Noble. I feel like being around books will get me into writing mode. I have one library within walking distance and a much bigger library a few minutes drive down the road. It’ll be like being in college again!

      Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble is on the other side of the city so I’ll have to fight traffic. Maybe I’ll take the bus sometimes just to change things up. Plus taking the bus is kind of relaxing because then I can actually check out my surroundings. Mmm books and public transportation :)

      1. THE LIBRARY. Amber, you’re a gad damn genius. I can’t believe the library never occurred to me, haha. Using the one within walking distance at your main spot sounds like a good idea, because then it’ll be harder to come up with excuses for not going. Then you can save the other spots for when you want a change of scenery!

        1. Well maybe your spot is more convenient to you so that’s why you never thought of the library. Basically, I’m surrounded by fast food joints (bad juju for me) and grocery stores so the small library branch across the highway seems like my best option. Libraries have a sort of romance about them-guess that’s because I love books! But yes, I have plenty of other options as long as I’m willing to drive there or take the bus – also romantic in a weird way, but hey who cares about being “normal” :)

          1. Confession: I have to walk PAST a library to get my writing spot. But my writing spot overlooks the sea and is open 24/7. Library opens at 10, and people talk to you in there. Ew.

    2. If you go to a coffee shop, why not just order a bottomless coffee? That way you don’t have to leave the moment you finish, you just ask for more.

      A bottomless coffee with a snack sounds like it could work for me, although, I’ve never tried working in a coffee shop before, but I want to.

      Also, maybe drinking that much coffee isn’t the best idea. You’ll probably end up only drinking one cup and ordering some water with lemon or tea (rooibos, of course — no caffiene) after that.

      Okay, never mind. Bad idea for a daily thing. Will have to think how I can make this work.

      1. Bottomless coffee is not really a thing in the UK :) But yeah, I wouldn’t want to have more than one or two cups anyway, and I usually make a cup with my breakfast at home. So that means just one at the coffee shop! To be fair, I also wouldn’t want to sit in a coffee shop for more than an hour or two.

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