We recently went on a family trip to the beach. As I’ve got into photography a lot over the last year and started a photography vlog we had a little agreement. The agreement was that we could enjoy some family beach time, and I would be allowed to have a few minutes wandering the sands, looking for a photograph or two to take. Compromise at its best.
I started to think about compromise in other parts of my life. It’s not a too dissimilar situation to deciding whether or not to go for a coffee. I’ve written a blog post before about bringing down the amount of money you spend on your coffee fix, so this could feel like a contradiction, but it is more to do with giving yourself time to get work done.
When I first became self-employed, I envisioned sitting around with the laptop, possibly in my pyjama bottoms, working at my own pace; leisurely. This is not the reality. Even if family members think it is! With kids at home, distractions around the house, people calling round, taking in parcels for the neighbours, DIY jobs constantly looking at you – working from home isn’t actually that easy. I’ll just make another brew, I’ll just put the washing on, I’ll just, I’ll just, I’ll just! Work becomes the afterthought. It’s difficult to discipline yourself, especially when there are so many videos to be watched on YouTube!
Many self-employed and freelance folk work from the comfort of a coffee house. Though I miss the independent coffee place where I used to live, there have been two chain shops open nearby recently. The hustle and bustle of the place gives you company, having a coffee made for you and actually having to time to drink it is a luxury (how many times can you microwave a cup of tea before it’s just wrong!?), overhearing other people’s half conversations often sparks inspiration.
Of course, you’ll also be able to update your Instagram account with artsy photos of coffee cups and delicious brownies!
Here are a couple of tips if you’re thinking of taking your laptop into a coffee shop to do some work. Make sure they have WiFi. Buy a drink at least every 90 minutes or so. Tip well and be kind to staff. Sit on a small table so you aren’t taking up a lot of space that other customers could use. Don’t be tempted to put your headphones in – you can zone out to music at home, but be in the moment and the environment of the cafe.
The compromise here is weighing up the possibility and probability of cabin fever in your home office, against actually getting stuff done. Sitting by yourself all day, with no conversation, can be counter-productive and hence not actually earn you any money as the work you need to do is still in a pile at the end of the day. Perhaps spending £5 on a couple of coffees and blasting through your to-do list is more beneficial as you actually get the work done? Plus, you never know who you might meet; possibly a new client might strike up a conversation with you, or you might become best friends with one of the baristas. When you can’t work away from home, there is an app called Coffitivity which recreates the noise and ambience of a coffee shop – this can boost your creativity and help you work better.
Putting yourself into a situation where you can meet people, get work done, and be in an environment which helps you work, has got to be beneficial. While you’d be spending a little bit of money, the pay off probably outweighs that cash. That’s the compromise and it’s well worth thinking about.