Sometimes freelancing is a little too free.
Wearing your pajamas for days in a row and not brushing your teeth before noon can be delicious luxuries at first, but it gets old after a while.
How can freelancers beat the “work-from-home blues?” Try getting out of the house and getting a little work done in one of these great “co-working” spaces. While they’re not all traditional places to work, they have some great perks and advantages.
Be sure to check out WiFi connectivity or be prepared to work offline in some of these locations. And scope out a backup location to take any important phone calls — no one likes to get shushed!
Writers love being surrounded by endless shelves of inspiration. Libraries make great work spaces, and often have quiet study rooms or work spaces you can reserve for free.
Plus, the WiFi is usually speedy and plenty of resources (and librarians) are on hand if you come across a tricky research question.
Typically, libraries aren’t the best places to take calls (unless you have a truly soundproof room reserved) and you’ll have to go elsewhere to drink your coffee and have your lunch.
But for a few hours of productivity, libraries are a top option.
2. Coffee shop
Coffee shops are classic writers’ haunts for a reason. While caffeine is a great aid to churn out page after page of top-notch narrative, coffee shops also offer snacks, meals and juices to keep you full and productive.
Scope out a table with outlet access, but be mindful of other customers and don’t overstay your welcome. Limit your time to an hour or two unless the cafe is really slow (in that case, ask if they mind you sticking around). If you’re there more than an hour or two, order regularly and tip well!
Sometimes noisy places can even help you write.
3. Public park
Public parks offer space to get your nature fix and keep up with your work. Follow these tips for working outside and head out to your local park. Consider bringing your own chair or blanket since picnic tables can be a little hard to sit at after a while.
Why not head outside and get some work time in right on your own porch? Be mindful of any potentially distracting neighbors who may be looking for a good chat, but otherwise porches offer great convenience.
You can typically adjust your WiFi router so you still have service outside, and when you get hungry, thirsty or need a restroom break, all you have to do is walk back inside.
5. Coworking space
Co-working spaces with names like “Spark” and “Hub” are popping up all over the country offering membership-based and pay-as-you-go options for freelancers looking to head into an office space.
However, these spaces can be pricey, costing as much as $850 a month for a designated space (though it typically costs less for a “hot-desking” situation where you grab an open cubicle or a spot at a communal table). Many coworking spaces offer perks like printing, conference rooms and other amenities that can be a big draw for freelancers and small businesses
If you love a nearby museum, consider springing for an annual membership and using the museum as your workspace from time to time.
Sitting on a bench near inspiring paintings or soaking in the natural history on a break can offer a brain refresh and give you an opportunity to get some work done in a new setting.
Not a member, or just visiting a new city for a few days? Call ahead or check online to see if there’s a student discount, or if the museum offers any admission-free or pay-as-you-wish days.
Doctors’ offices often have fish tanks for a reason. Watching little fish (or very big fish) make their way through a tank of water is incredibly calming. With a hurried freelance life, being able to work for a few hours in a calming and peaceful environment is a great way to get some work done. Pro Tip: Aim for late afternoon, after field-trip time.
Call ahead or check online to see if there’s a student discount, or if the aquarium offers any admission-free or pay-as-you-wish days. Also, see if you can score an inexpensive annual membership if you plan on stopping by often.
8. Shopping Mall
Head over to your local mall and whip out your laptop for a change of scenery. Find a nice bench or cushy seat or head to the food court to set up shop at a table. Some malls, including the Mall of America, even offer free WiFi.
9. Anywhere! (At least, in cities with free WiFi)
Is free, public, city-wide WiFi a freelancer’s dream come true? Some cities, such as Perth, Paris, and Tel Aviv have implemented municipal WiFi in core downtown areas.
This means you can connect to WiFi just about anywhere within these areas, giving you the freedom to roam and stay connected or find a nice little corner bench to get a little work done without maxing out your data plan. Of course, be sure to check connectivity and be mindful of security on such a public WiFi system.
10. Bus or train station
Watch passengers come and go as you grab a seat in a bus or train station to catch up on some work. Many offer free WiFi, but don’t get too distracted by the top-notch people watching.
11. Friend’s house
A change of scenery can be very refreshing, so why not head over to a fellow freelancer’s pad to work? Bring a treat or lunch to share and designate time for chatting and catching up when you can both take a break. Next time your friend needs a change of scenery, inviting them over to your place could help you both be a bit more productive.
12. Botanical gardens
Spending time in nature is proven to boost creativity. Settle into a botanical garden and get some work done while taking time to get some exercise and (literally) smell some flowers. If you hate cold winter weather, an indoor garden can be the perfect place to find a taste of spring.
13. On a boat or ferry
Head out onto the open water to work. Many cities, such as San Francisco and New York, offer commuter ferries, and many commuter-type watercraft have plenty of benches or tables. Washington State even offers paid WiFi service on its ferries.
14. On a train
Trains are one of the most romantic places to work. Amtrak even offered a writing residency this year where writers could work on their creative projects while riding its trains throughout the country. Many Amtrak trains offer seating with tables, work space, and even outlets to keep your electronics charged as you travel.
15. From your camper van
Equip your camper van with a table and way to charge your devices, and you have a mobile office you can take anywhere. Go camping or just drive it to a local park to enjoy a comfortable and inviting mobile work space.
16. By the pool
While beaches are not ideal places to work, pools make much better places for freelancers to get some sun and catch up on work. Be sure to stay far enough away from the water to dodge errant splashes, and secure your valuables if you jump in for a dip. And before you head outside, plan for dealing with the sun’s glare on your laptop.
Dr. Seuss found a lot of his inspiration at the local zoo. Consider heading to your zoo to find a quiet spot to appreciate the animals, inspire your creativity and get some work done. Call ahead or check online to see if there are any admission discounts.
18. Local universities
Colleges and universities are set up for learning and studying, and every campus has more than a few hidden gems when it comes to work space. Head to the library or a quiet hall to find a bit of space to work, and you’ll often find free WiFi.
19. International coworking spaces
While the U.S. offers an abundance of coworking options, you can also find some great places to work overseas. Hubud is just one example of a popular international coworking space. Located in Ubud, Bali, this space offers digital nomads and dreamers a place to connect and get down to business. Prices vary, but Hubud rates start at $60 per month for 25 hours of desk time, up through $275 per month for unlimited access.
20. A castle
Who wouldn’t want to work in a castle? If you happen to live nearby one of the United States’ castles, from California’s Hearst Castle to Belvedere Castle in New York City’s Central Park, head on over and see if you can get some work done. Call ahead or check online to see if there’s an admission fee and if certain days have discounts.
21. Client’s office
Face time is always good for business, so why not see if you can snag a corner of a table or an open desk in one of your client’s offices? Be sure to ask, and expect to focus on that company’s work while you’re there. But spending time right by a client can be a great way to keep you in the forefront of their mind the next time a big project comes up.
22. Your “she shed” or “man cave”
Find a little personal space in your backyard and create a “she shed” or “man cave.” These special retreats can be fun to design and provide a personal place for you to create. For more inspiration, check out YA novelist Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing cottage.
Your turn, writers: where do you go to be inspired or productive when you can’t get anything done at home?