When you're employed for someone else and working out of their office, there's always something so cheeky and inviting about that day when you're 'working from home'. Maybe you need to be in all day for the electrician, have a midday appointment that doesn't make it worth going in or have simply scheduled in a tactical WFH day to follow a rare mid-week catch up with friends that had the potential to get messy.
The tactics were simple, prep an email to ping out to the boss at 6am (early riser...very keen), another at 8pm (working hard into the night) and make sure you never stray too far from your laptop during the day to ensure a regular wiggle of the mouse kept Skype status active.
Sadly, those methods don't fly when you're running your own business. There's no-one on the other end of Outlook you need to be accountable to, other than clients and peers. If you don't do the work, it just doesn't get done, then you don't get paid. When the pressure is on, the thrill of working from home can occasionally lose it's edge.
For the extra motivated amongst us, our home is our career haven and the breakfast bar can feel like the boardroom. Sometimes I have those days and the productivity is unstoppable (as is the boiling of the kettle...), however other times I need to escape these four walls if I stand a chance of getting anything more than the laundry done that day.
Enter....the coffee shop desk.
I know I know, it's such a cliche. A sea of lone workers, with headphones on, steaming lattes in hand & more technology than Silicon Valley....but I have to say, those peeps might just be onto something. An afternoon cosied up, plugged in and caffeinated up can see me rattle through my to-do list in no time with some delicious coffee to boot. So grab your brew and take a peek at my guide to setting up camp in your local coffee shop....
Prepare to spend
In the early days of business especially, finances can be tight and spending money on frivolous things such as coffee can seem like a luxury. Unfortunately you can't reap the benefits of planning your weeks social media calendar with a handcrafted drink in hand alongside the sound of clinking crockery and the coffee machine without a bit of investment. Sadly, making a single fruit tea & a cup of tap water last 5 hours just won't cut it. It may feel pricey, but at least you can feel smug in the knowledge that you're sat there building the foundations of your future business empire.
Check your tech
Unless it's an extended session of diary planning (who doesn't love that time sat with an old school paper diary) or creative writing, chances are you'll be relying on having Wi-fi to hand. There's nothing worse than getting your steaming coffee in hand, finding the perfect seat, unpacking the laptop, phone, headphones, diary, lovely new pens, even lovelier yet wholly unnecessary new post it notes and fancy notebook, only to log on & realise the Wi-fi is down. It's worth the 2 minute check before you order to log on & ensure technology is on your side.
Ask for your drink extra hot
Don't worry - you won't sound like a diva, but it will help keep your coffee drinkable for more than 5 minutes. Better still, bring an insulated cup of your own and as well as saving money in a lot of places it will keep your drink piping hot even when you look up after blogging for an hour and realise you haven't touched a drop.
If you're easily distracted, face a quieter corner. Easily cold? Avoid the area by the door. Likely to be in it for the long haul? Make sure there are plug sockets to hand. Also be mindful of others around you whether they are working or socialising - if you're working alone, pick a little table or if you want to spread out a bit, consider sharing a bigger table with another worker.
Don't forget to pee!
At risk of sounding like my mother in 1994, even if you don't need to go...'have a try'. More often then not you want to sit & work for a while - if you're anything like me and your life is on your laptop, you don't want to leave it left alone while you make a quick dash to the loo half an hour in! That said, if you're a regular in a local place (shout out to supporting small businesses...) you can probably entrust a lovely member of staff to keep half an eye on your stuff.
Another solution to pee-issues! Being self employed can be a lonely business. Sometimes simply being in a bustling environment can get the creative juices going, but it's also nice to bounce ideas off other people and know you're not in the same boat. Find others who love getting out & about for a morning's work & team up to grab a co-working table, just make sure you actually get some work done...