Having a home office is great for many reasons. But it’s not the holy grail of working environments people tend to think it is. And boy, do they ever think it is.
When I mention to people that I’m a freelancer, the first thing they say is that it must be great working from home. It never fails! The reality is that it has its pros and cons, like anything else. And while I generally do like working from home, it’s the least of all reasons why I continue to work for myself.
Even if you love working from home, though, it never hurts to get out and change things up a little. Here are some of the biggest reasons why:
Get Around Other People
While I don’t particularly love interacting with strangers, it can be nice to be in the presence of another human being sometimes. While my dog does keep me company most of the time, she’s only in it for the belly rubs.
Loneliness and isolation are common problems for freelancers. Solving those problems is a common reason for them giving up on their business and going in-house. While there’s nothing wrong with working in-house, I’m a big proponent of freelancing. Needless to say, I’m all about minimizing the potential downsides (and there are some).
The ideal scenario here would be a coworking space with other creative freelancers. These spaces surround you with people that can relate to what you’re going through. They give everyone a chance to vent frustrations and bounce ideas off each other. The downside is they can be expensive to rent.
Barring that, just go people-watch in the park or something. Get around another human being. Slack channels and Facebook groups are great, but they only get you so far. That face-to-face interaction is hard to replace.
One of the most common complaints I see about working from home—and certainly my biggest complaint—is how hard it can be to manage distractions. In my case, this usually comes in the form of interruptions from my wife and kids. They mean well, sure, but there are sometimes boundary issues that arise when you work from home.
For others, it could be the tendency to associate home with relaxing. It could be the powerful call of Netflix. It could be the sinkful of dishes or a pile of laundry that needs folding. A lot of these issues come down to lack of boundaries, but dealing with them can be a challenge.
So what do you do? First, try to cut the distractions. Don’t put a TV in your office if you can’t turn it off when it’s time to work. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, though. I hear it’s considered bad parenting to tape your kid’s mouth shut, for example.
If you can’t take the distractions out of your environment, take yourself out instead. Libraries are great for a distraction-free environment. A quiet coffee shop can work too. I have a Starbucks near me that always has a bunch of empty tables outside. The combo of fresh air and coffee is hard to beat.
Refresh Your Creative Juices
While I don’t believe in copywriters—or any writers, really—waiting around for inspiration to strike, sometimes your brain needs a good jolt. Sometimes a change of scenery can be just what you need to get past a sticking point.
Everyone is going to have a different spot that helps them think more creatively. I like to be outdoors for this, so in the spring or summer, I’ll go sit on my porch. If you’re some kind of psychopath and actually like being cold, you can do the same thing in fall or winter.
Other folks will have their own environments that get the creative brain working. It could be a particular room in your house or a cozy cafe. The specific place matters less than the fact that you actually have one. If you don’t have somewhere you can go to bust through a tough sticking point, make it your goal to find one.
There are a ton of reasons to take a break from any place you spend too much time, whether it’s a home office or anywhere else. Give your brain a break—and your productivity a boost—and get out.
And if you have a certain special place, let me know all about it on Twitter.