In February, I started a full-time job as a web content specialist for Creekmore Consulting. My boss told me before I even signed a contract: “By the way, there’s not going to be an office any time soon. You can work anywhere you’d like, as long as you have a good Internet connection and cell phone service.”
Sounds glamorous, right? Well, that’s because it is. In April, I tested the boundaries of working “anywhere,” by asking if I could sublease a place in New York City for the summer, and she granted me permission. So for the past two months, I’ve been working everywhere from the rooftop of my building to coffee shops in Greenwich Village to Madison Square Park (that’s me up there, working underneath my favorite tree in the park). Working in the city has its own unique challenges, some of which include slower Internet connectivity, longer commutes, fewer Wi-Fi coffee shops and an overall distracting atmosphere. Oh, and not to mention the never-ending supply of incredible pastries and cupcakes that keep me from wearing my skinny jeans.
I’ve learned a thing or two about working from home in the Big Apple, and I’ve employed a few small tips and tricks that I will take back to Nashville with me in August.
- Get up and get out. It’s easy to roll out of bed, put the coffee on, and start working in your pajamas. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t have days like that once in a while. But when you can hear bar patrons cheering to World Cup games on the street below you, and you can smell fresh bread baking at the bakery next door, it’s hard to get cranking right away. That’s why I allow myself enough time for a 30-minute walk each morning — and I never leave the apartment until I’m dressed and ready for the day. There is a mental shift that happens when I leave and take a “walk to work” that makes me twice as productive for the remainder of the day.
- Put pen to paper. Or, pencil in my case. Some days I can’t quite wrap my head around my to-do list. With multiple clients, websites in test stages and feature-length articles due for trade publications, everyone I work with manages quite the balancing act, and the best way for me to get organized is to write down a checklist of tasks. And if I’m having trouble coming up with a good lede for an article or a snappy web headline, jotting down all of my ideas helps me clear my head enough to make real progress.
- Change locations. Here in NYC, apartments are so tiny, that there is simply no room for a kitchen table, let alone a desk. After working with my computer on my lap for about a month, it became clear that I needed to find other places to work. I’ve since scoped out the best Wi-Fi coffee shops and the most convenient Wi-Fi-accessible parks in the city, so when I need to sit down at a table and get to work, I know exactly where to go.
- Don’t forget to eat. When I used to work in an office, I would keep an eye on the clock all morning, anxiously awaiting the moment I could go outside and get a few moments of sunshine. Now that I have windows available to me and the option to work outside, it’s easy to get caught up in the workday and forget to eat. In the city, I tend to use lunch breaks to explore new areas and to continue my quest to find the best pizza in the city. By the time I get back to work, I have fresh eyes and new energy to finish out the day.
- Put everything away at quitting time. In Nashville, I have a table to work at, and when I’m done for the day, I can walk away. Here in the city, I only have about 500 square feet to work with. So if I leave my computers up and running, it’s tempting to sit down at 11:00 p.m. to get ahead on the next day’s to-do list. A few days of that work schedule, and you start to feel like you never take a break. Now, at 6 p.m., I pack all of my technology into a computer bag and stick it in the closet until the next morning.