Do you really think you will be content, day in and day out working in one place, your trusty notebook, computer and pen in hand, writing down notes faithfully posting them on the bulletin board above your desk?
As a writer I can vouch for the fact that writing in different places gives me fresh new ideas, new ways of thinking and sheds light on problems I have been thinking about for a while. I suspect that this probably applies to other kinds of working activity as well.
Before I embraced the portable life, I manically obsessed about creating THE perfect workplace. I tried the kitchen table, I tried my bedroom study desk, I even tried the coffee table in front of the TV (some very bad choices, I know). Since I’m writing this article today, you can probably guess how that went.
I finally gave up and tried a different approach. I bought a smaller laptop (a MacBook Air, for the curious) ditched my ancient writing notebook for a small memo pad, grabbed my phone, pen and thinking cap and headed outside in search of an exciting new pace to work in.
Having been to the other side, I have come to believe that wielding concentration in a serene, undisturbed place is highly overrated. Only monks and sadhus of old have the luxury to meditate on mountaintops or on the eden-esque banks of a quiet, clear brook. The rest of us mundane folks have to find this esoteric focus in our own backyards as we mow the lawn, as our children clamber over our notes to steal our Swarovski crystal pen, and as they spill bright orange carrot soup over our prized laptop.
My point with all this funny talk is this – the romantic notion of a peaceful, organized bolted-to-the-floor desk is becoming something of an ancient myth.
As an advocate of a portable lifestyle, I beg, implore and empower you to be a new-age renegade! Free your work from the stone, wood, iron and concrete walls of your home or office. March out onto the streets with your laptop bag and smartphone. Infiltrate local parks, seize malls and cafes, and skip through the woods with your iPad to see your grandmother.
Why your workstation is obsolete
It’s boring. Lets face it, sitting at the same desk, decorated with the same post-its, and next to the same bookcase with the same old books everyday can get old pretty fast. Even if you are blessed with an awesome view to daydream out the window. Think of it this way, did you leave your 9-5 cubicle prison to live in your home office/basement prison?
Fresh air boosts creativity. Its easier to describe scenery when birds are chirping around you, trees are waving gently in the wind and your dog is running around sniffing at every suspicious looking flower. Likewise, it is easier to describe a casual dinner as you sit in a coffee shop with its clinking spoons and steaming cups. Even if your setting doesn’t match what you are working on, fresh, new places tend to give you new insights and innovative ideas. At the very least, you get to see something interesting when you look up.
It forces you to focus. If you can train your brain to focus on the work no matter what is going on around you, the irritating noises and distractions will fade into the background and you will be able to get into “the zone” faster and stay there longer.
Portability is awesome. These days I don’t feel stumped by a cluttered desk or if I left my favorite pen at home. I just open my laptop bag, empty its contents and get to work. No fuss, no mess. And weekend getaways? Its awesome working in a new place without having to worry if u left anything important behind!
Be a minimalist. The fewer items you have, the simpler your life is. Give yourself the permission to ditch the burden of working with more stuff. Instead focus on doing great work. With less stuff around there will be fewer distractions. The best part? You will not be able to use “Let me clean up first” as an excuse and actually get some work done for once.
Six Tips for Creating a Portable Workspace
Invest in a good laptop. I know some of you love working on tangible paper, but the rest of us tech-savvy folks have a distinct advantage. Our laptops double triple, quadruple as a personal assistant, calculator, research, entertainment breaks and music center and the ever-useful post-its. Plus typing is much, much faster.
Carry accessories but make them lightweight. By all means, get a pocket notebook, tiny little colored markers and index cards, but make sure you wont curse every time you have to hoist your bag on your shoulder. A lightweight laptop is a blessing as well. Another great lightweight alternative is to carry a tablet like an IPad that syncs automatically to your main computer when you get home after an adventurous day of portable work.
Carry a trinket you would put on your fantasy desk. I like to keep a small seashell that I collected on my honeymoon. Working with it reminds me of happy, positive, productive times and instantly puts me in the mood for prolific working. I finished my masters’ thesis hanging out with my husband on a coral-strewn beach in Huvahendhoo, Maldives. I didn’t make that name up and the whole experience was much more work than it sounds like.
Don’t forget your charger. You will find it very challenging to get stuff done on a dead laptop.
Practice getting in the zone quickly. Learn to tune out distracting people and sounds. Word sprints, speed reading and other quick, timed activities that require hyper-focus are great for turning off your inner procrastinator and getting down to business.
Bring headphones just incase. You can concentrate and meditate all you like but there are times when you need a helping hand. When I really need to focus, I tune into some gentle music. Coffitivity (www.coffitivity.com) is another great resource for when you need to block out unwanted sounds.Go on, take your work to the streets right now!