I have lived in a small Queens neighborhood in New York for almost two years now, and exploring the city and it’s cuisines by finding new places to get work done is always my favorite thing to do.
I don’t know about you, but working from home or being in the same environment for too long makes me antsy. Before I started working with the talented folks at Sawhorse, I was an off-and-on freelancer. I found the best way for me to focus and get work done was to get out of my apartment and hunt for coffee and a place to rest my laptop. Here’s what I’ve learned.
You don’t have to stay in your neighborhood! Get on the subway and pick a neighborhood you’ve never been to. Explore the side streets. Take it all in. Spend a few moments appreciating the architecture around you. Walk around, get lost and then settle at a coffee shop for a few hours. Find a bite for lunch and then do it all again! Or better yet, bring lunch from home and find the nearest green space. Enjoy your food without looking at a single screen.
Coffee Shops and Restaurants
Not all coffee shops have power or WiFi, which can be okay depending on the type of work you do. 75% of my design and development work can be done locally without internet. You just have to plan accordingly and make sure you have all the files you need beforehand. As for power? Charge up before you leave your home and spend a few minutes Foursquare-ing or Yelping coffee shops around you that have the amenities you need.
I’m the type of person that will bring my laptop to restaurants and work while eating alone. Surprisingly some restaurants have WiFi and power outlets! I make sure to go during off hours and order food that won’t get messy. Most waitstaff don’t mind it at all. Plus, bathrooms!
When you need to hanker down and power through lots of work, Coworking spaces are your best bet.
My favorite one is New Work City on Canal and Broadway. It’s peaceful, inhabited by independent creatives and there are bean bags! Wherever you end up, spend a few minutes researching cost, location and environment. I tend to stay away from the more commercialized Coworking spaces (Regis, etc) — because community is really valuable and it can be found if you look hard enough.
My new favorite recommendation for coworking in NYC is Croissant. It’s an app where you can essentially walk in and out of any coworking space in the city, counting down from the hours on your plan. Yep, that means you can stay in a space for 28 minutes and another for 2 hours, while only paying for the time you actually use.
Know what you’re going to work on before you go anywhere. It might even behoove you to organize your tasks into 2-4 hour sprints. That way you can make the most of your time working and the breaks you take will be meaningful. Have meetings or calls? Try to make a plan to work around them. If you’ve got errands to run in the afternoon in SoHo, then get to the neighborhood early and spend the day coffee shop and library hopping.
For instance, when I freelanced I scheduled meetings with clients and phone calls on the same day and went to a coworking space on that day because I could use their phone rooms and conference rooms. Also it became an all day affair because I could make the most of the day pass (~$30) if I got there early and left late.
I can’t stress enough how awesome the library is for working… and it’s free! Seriously, New York has amazing libraries that are perfect for working. Outlets galore, WiFi, plenty of seating, quiet atmosphere, cool architecture — what more could you ask for?