Freelance, Free-Range

by Steve Gordon
You are a successful independent professional. Your home-office is on point. You have a room with a view. The office has a door—even a lock (to protect from unwanted visits or action-movie intruders if need be)! The wifi must be spiked with ginseng & echinacea, because it’s strong-like-bull. The commute is manageable, and going out for lunch simply means hitting your fully-stocked kitchen.

Rough existence, huh? But with all of that, you feel the pull to leave from time to time. And for what? A hard chair and small table at a crowded coffee vendor who offers free wifi—but is kind of on edge about the prospect of how long you’ll be taking their largest table. Yep! Sounds about right, and we’re breaking for the door like we just pulled a heist on our own home-office. Why is that?

To venture a guess; there is something to be said for a change of place. You can have the best home-office setup—nothing short of an ad for IKEA and a feature in your local business journal—yet wanderlust nags. Waking up and feeling that desire to embark on a getting-things-done mission actually counts for something. Grooming is refreshing. Picking garments and primping (add in the prospect of being seen) is confidence boosting. The drive is mentally stimulating. Even the sunlight is something that you can’t get stationary indoors. And the aforementioned coffee shop sets you awash in interpersonal communication, taking on incoming new visual and auditory information. A wealth of momentum, grown from “going mobile.”

With typical 9-to-5 gigs, many creatives balk at imposed structure and stagnant parameters—which arguably have very little to do with output or productivity. It’s safe to say many traditional ideals surrounding workplace productivity are being poked full of holes in this modern career climate. There is something inherently right about the process of attempting to, as Outkast so keenly put it, “get up, get out and get something!” In the moments when you stand in the mirror for the final “how do I look?” once over, leave to board your transportation of choice, get your mitts on a cup or can of your favorite A.M. wake-up juice, and stroll through the doors of whatever location you call ‘Work,’ it’s a safe bet that you have more energy than you will the rest of the day. To the point—you have an accountable beginning to your career excursions for that day. Blurring of the work/life balance is a good thing at times and works very well for many creative pros, but some days it’s just necessary to have a definitive “I went to work at this time, and I came home at this time” framework.

You don’t have to go free-range on a regular basis. But when the urge hits, try not to fight it too hard. Your mind & body could be giving you the signal that you need something new. Embrace it! Leave the office and head to work.

Many creatives balk at imposed the structure and stagnant parameters of the traditional 9-5 workday, but working from your home office can be a lonely existence. Get up and get out. Surrounding yourself in a new environment can boost your output and recharge your creative batteries, but more importantly it can provide an accountable beginning to your work day.

Quick Tips
1. Scope out coffee shops in your area an eye on engaging in real work. Study their space, table sizes, traffic patterns, strength of the wifi signal, and ask the staff when the best times to get a good table might be.

2. Don’t limit yourself to coffee shops! Look for co-working spaces in your area. Dedicated places are springing up everywhere, specifically designed for the independent (and mobile) professional in need of officing solutions.

3. Check in with a contact who has space of their own. Many of us know people who have full-time—but largely unused—offices. Chances are they would gladly share a few hours of space with you. You may even find work in situations like this. Bonus!

4. Get into it. Do this regularly and begin to make contacts. You might find that places where you’ve become a “regular” are looking out for you and you’ll become a welcome and legit fixture around their establishments.

Dig Deeper!
1. Not ready to move yet? Try a Google or Bing search for “CoWorking Spaces” in your area. A surprising amount of links may pop up.

2. The rest is legwork… these interwebs can’t save you. Travel, look, search, connect… Go mobile!

3 thoughts on “Freelance, Free-Range

  1. Luke Mysse

    Even though I have an office away from home I still make an effort to go remote once or twice a week. I’ve found it helpful to know what I’m going to do when I land wherever it is I go remote. Tasks like, cleaning up email, proposals, research, accounting are all things that I can do really well outside of my office. If I don’t have a punch list though I tend to get distracted.

    Some of my favorite spots to work:
    – Haven Gastropub in the afternoon (obvious reasons).
    – Park near my office, nice walk and I have a wifi hotspot.
    – My friends Airstream trailer in his backyard.
    – The train ride to San Diego
    – Any coffee shop that I can ride bike to with my iPad

  2. Mark Swift

    We don’t make it out on the town much during working hours, but the couch and the back deck are two of my favorite non-office spots to sit back and get something done — especially when I need to clear my head and shift into creative mode. Sometimes just a simple move away from my desktop is enough to jolt me back into focus. I’ve also found, for whatever reason, that I have an easier time brainstorming and thinking of solutions to more complex problems with my feet up and laptop right in front of me — there’s something freeing about not working in standard office-chair posture. And I’m not a huge fan of being on conference calls with coffee cups clanking and Starbucks patrons clamoring in the background. I know it’s become standard practice, but it doesn’t make for the most relaxed or productive conversations.