Working From the Non-Home Office

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by Rasmus Rasmussen on July 8, 2010

What do you do to reduce work-related stress? How do you get the most out of your time? Every freelancer and artist struggles with this at some point. Working from home sounds good, but it’s not without danger. There is a chance you’ll get distracted or interrupted, but the greatest danger is that you will do what I did: end up stretching your work day from some time in the morning, until you are too tired to continue.

When at home I tend to work a little, get distracted, then get some more done, then procrastinate a bit. And so on. Work is constantly at the back of my mind, e-mail is checked ad nauseam, there’s the occasional burst of writing, but I also weave in chores and get sucked into the social media time sink — and it all kind of flows together into this jumbled, never ending stream of tasks and procrastination.

So, I’ve learned that the best way for me to work from home, is to not work from home at all.

Most of my work is done in front of a computer, so I’ll grab my laptop and head to a nearby coffee shop. This being Seattle, there is no shortage of those. I have found that if I go there for 4-5 hours a day, I can crank out just as much as if I had spent 10 or more hours at home. But the increased efficiency is not even the biggest advantage of doing it this way.

When I get home, I am actually able to let go and leave my work behind. To take mental time off and just be home, doing homey things. That is by far the biggest advantage. Knowing that I’ve been productive and gotten the stuff done I needed — sometimes even more than that, plus the combination of not associating home with work, has helped tremendously with reducing stress.

It costs me in the neighborhood of $12 a day in drinks, which is still cheaper than renting an office space. Especially considering that internet access is included and the coffee is delicious. The downside is a whole new set of distractions, from screaming kids and friendly regulars to the occasional B.O. encounter, but in spite of those I still prefer the coffee shop solution.

When you’re self-employed or in the middle of a time consuming project, it’s too easy to obsess over it. I am a strong believer in taking mental time off so as not to burn out completely. That’s not to say that you can’t be thinking, it just shouldn’t be about work all the time. Since being more diligent about leaving the home office behind, I’ve not only become more focused and productive but also a happier person.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dennis Dunbar July 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

And I thought I was the only one. Nothing focuses me better than a looming deadline. ;-)

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Rasmus Rasmussen July 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Deadlines are magic. I’m convinced it’s because of the ultimate one (death) that we get anything done at all.

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