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In the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work from home for both work and for school. Home can be a distracting place though so I’ve spent nearly as much time trying to find free workspaces OUTSIDE of my house. When the walls start talking to me and I just need to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE these are a few of my favorite places to go.
#1 Starbucks (and other coffee/tea houses)
When you think of freelancing and working out of the house most people immediately think of Starbucks. It’s a classic place to get down to business in an energetic environment.
That coffee smell
Even for people who don’t like the taste of coffee (I’m a tea drinker through and through) the smell of coffee is some sort of magic on its own. Just the smell of it has the power to perk me right up to pound out a few thousand words.
Easy to meet up with people
Being the classic hangout that it is, it’s very easy to meet up with people that you wouldn’t necessarily want to invite over to your house. Either coworking buddies, friends, or potential clients, Starbucks is a great place to meet up.
Con: Totes loud and can be hard to get a table
With all that going for it, Starbucks also has a reputation for getting quite loud during peak times and it can be difficult to find a table close to the outlets at the best of times.
Nothing beats being free with no strings attached.
Shhhhhhhhh. It’s a library. If you can’t work with loud noises surrounding then the library is the place for you.
Librarians are awesome
Librarians are quite possibly my favorite kind of person. They are full of information and are just looking for an excuse to help you. If they don’t have the answer they definitely know where to look to find it.
Browse the shelves for inspiration
Sometimes the best way to be productive is to do nothing at all for a little while and find inspiration elsewhere. The library is full of that, in spades! Browse the shelves for a couple of minutes and you’re guaranteed to come away with a new idea or perspective.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a negative interaction with ANYONE who works here. Seriously. I think they might be unicorns in disguise.
If you get lucky, there are some tables with access to outlets. Score!
Free fountain refills
Working is a thirsty endeavor. Free fountain refills are the best.
Free fountain and tea refills
Places with drinks are sort of my thing. If I can get my drink on as much as I want I feel like I can get more done. Hydration is key!
Panera knows that you are just as likely to be coming in for a business meeting as anything else so outlets are generally available all over the place. If one isn’t available immediately it is pretty much guaranteed that one will open up soon.
This is a preference thing but I love the food at Panera. Salads, sandwiches, soups, all full of good for you things (for the most part).
#5 Barnes and Noble
There is something about books that make people want to be quiet around them. I think it’s the years of being conditioned to whisper in libraries. Regardless, bookstores are wonderfully quiet most of the time which allows some serious thinking to take place.
Full of inspiration
Stuck with an intense case of writer’s block? Not only are there books around you that probably cover getting over that, but there are also thousands of other books full of inspiration just waiting to light your spark. It might be weird but I love going to the games section and browsing through the puzzles. Visualization is incredibly powerful and imagining myself working through the problem like putting together puzzle pieces helps a ton when nothing else will.
The coffee shop
Many Barnes and Nobels come with a Starbucks right inside the store! That’s like getting all the perks of working in a Starbucks with all the perks of working in a bookstore! Gimme that caffeine.
#6 College campus
Wifi access will vary based on the college but many will have a guest network you can log into at the very least. Some even have day passes to work in their libraries and study centers. Check your local campus website and find out what sorts of internet connectivity you can expect before you go.
Many food choices
College students like to eat. Because of this lots of food vendors will set up shop near where all the studying takes place to take advantage of the hungry and sleep-deprived. They probably won’t be the healthiest of options but variety will more than make up for it if you get the munchies while banging out a report.
I frequently find that it’s easier to get work done when I know that everyone around me is also working. Like, look at us, doing work and being productive. No distractions here. Bliss.
#7 Your Friend’s House
Home… but not YOUR home
So you want a change of scenery but not THAT MUCH of a change? Your friend’s house is perfect. Still, home-like without the necessity of being in public. Perfect.
Working from home is incredibly isolating. Sometimes all you need to increase your productivity is to have someone you know nearby for a quick chat when you need a break. Other humans are a real mood booster when you’re feeling alone.
In the same vein, working near someone can lead to some great collaboration opportunities. Have an idea you want to bounce off your friend? Being there in person allows you to talk to them about it faster and with more clarity than over the internet. Many hands make light work!
I debated putting this on the list because most of my work involves the internet. However, as we all know, the internet is chock full of distractions. If I have something that needs to be done that doesn’t specifically require access to the internet, I try to do it here. I can’t be tempted by the web when I don’t have access to the web.
You don’t have to purchase anything to use the park as a workspace. It’s just there, waiting for you to enjoy it.
At the end of the day, fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for both your mood and your productivity. Soak up that vitamin D and clear out the stuffy air from your lungs. Nature is the best.
Be open to finding new places to work. When you’re out and about, make note of free wifi signs so that you can come back later when you need a change of scenery. There are (mostly) free workspaces all around you and more are being built every day. So go. Explore your neighborhood!
Going out and exploring the wilds of your neighborhood is better if you’re prepared. The following are some suggestions to bring with you as you discover your new workspace.
- Fully charged electronics
- Charger for laptop and phone
- Water bottle
- Non-messy snack (assuming you aren’t going to a food establishment)
- Light jacket/cardigan/thing to keep you warm because these places can be iceboxes
As a location independent worker, you don’t have to stay cooped up in your home all day. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to or that it’s the most productive environment for you. Free workspaces are all over, especially if you’re willing to purchase a drink while there. So go out there adventurers and explore!
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