Increase Productivity, Escape to a Quiet Place
Freelancing, by definition, is a solitary existence. You probably sit at a computer most of the day, writing, designing, drawing, networking, and have little face to face interaction with peers who work in your industry.
I don’t know how you write, but I need it to be quiet to be productive. Deathly quiet. I have never been able to listen to music—even the classical stuff—while doing homework, working on a paper, or writing a magazine feature or blog post. If it’s rowdy outside my office, I shut the door, and people know not to bother me. When the phone rings, I groan unhappily. A ringing phone is my nemesis.
It’s annoying to be interrupted when you are in the thick of a project—even if it’s your own, adorable child doing the interrupting. If you are like most freelancers, your work area is probably located somewhere in your home office. If you’re lucky, you have a door to shut—and lock. But if you have a family, it’s not easy to stay out of the loop. If you hear your kid crying in another part of the house, I bet it’s mighty hard to pay attention to what you’re working on.
Luckily the world today makes it easy for you to get out of your house to work. But depending on where you live, a quiet place might be hard to find. When I lived in New York City there was hardly a space to be found (outside of the library) where there wasn’t action happening all around me. Even if you had the ability to push the mute button on the world, there are always people walking around, cars driving by, lights flashing, and animals who are vying for your attention. And wearing blinders in public just seems silly.
Coffee Shops, Work Spaces, and Libraries
Coffee shops are hit and miss for freelancers. The trick is to find one that has free wifi, comfortable seating, and isn’t too busy. That can be tricky. Plus, in a coffee shop, I always feel like I have to buy something to loiter—and sometimes I just don’t want anything.
So where does one go to get peace and quiet? One of the best spots I’ve seen is called Paragraph and it’s located in New York City. What I love about this space is that it specifically caters to writers. It’s open all the time, 24/7/365, and has comfy couches, chairs, and cubicles in their 2,500 square foot loft space near Union Square. They offer both full and part-time memberships on a month-to-month, quarterly, semiannual, and annual basis.
But unless you live in a city with such a thoughtful space at your convenience, your local library is one of the best places to work. At the library, it’s practically a law that you have to be quiet. And there always seems to be nooks and crannies that contain desks and chairs for you to work in. I used to like to find the most hidden corner somewhere in the stacks to park myself for a few hours. At the library, wifi is free, and reference help is there if you need it. Plus, libraries smell like lovely old books. I love that smell.
If you like the idea of having a designated workspace outside of your house, but you don’t want to spend a lot on rent, consider finding a cowork environment. More and more office spaces are opening up where different people pay a fee to share the same workspace. You might rent a small desk area next to a computer programmer, salesperson, or a freelance blogger. Coworking environments offer a relatively inexpensive way to have an office without signing a year-long lease on commercial space.
Most coworkers are in their late 20s to later 30s and work in the creative field. It’s a great way to network with other peers and escape the feeling of isolation that can happen from working at home. A coworking environment also releases you from worrying about utilities such as heat, air conditioning, and wifi. The cost for these services is usually bundled into your monthly fee. You might also have access to a printer or fax machine, but this is dependent on the property.
There can be distractions in a coworking environment, too, so look around and find what is going to best suit your productivity needs. Plus, not all of these office spaces are open when it’s convenient for you.