- Freelancer Stephen Moore says after two years of working from home he was increasingly restless.
- To help, he started spending every Wednesday helping to build furniture at his friend’s workshop.
- This weekly out-of-home-office day has made him more energetic and refreshed.
Before the pandemic turned the world upside down, my work life as the owner of a bespoke manufacturing business (and part-time writer) was quite hectic. My days were filled with manufacturing in the workshop, on-site visits with clients, installations, meetings, and three hours of daily commuting.
Now, as a full-time freelance writer and editor, I roll out of bed, sit down at the kitchen table, and type away on my laptop until it’s dinner time.
I’ve been working remotely for nearly two years, and it’s made me increasingly restless.
My entire work history has been spent on my feet in chaotic environments, from bars and restaurants to workshops and construction sites. I love what I’m doing right now — getting paid to write and edit still feels like a dream — but I’ve never been one to do work that involves sitting on my butt all day. Sitting alone at my table, in near silence, was a sharp change.
Working remotely got to be a little too much over the winter, and cabin fever set in. My mood took a sharp decline, my output suffered, and I began to hate everything about my work and where I did it. I knew something had to change, or my career as a stay-at-home writer would be very short-lived.
As fate would have it, my long-time friend — also a craftsman — needed an extra pair of hands around his workshop once a week to help with various projects. I jumped at the chance and started spending every Wednesday at his workshop on him, helping to manufacture bespoke furniture pieces and working with my hands once again.
This weekly out-of-home-office day has proven to be a revelation, leaving me refreshed and inspired when I sit back at the keyboard and freeing me from the feeling of being trapped in my own home. Here are three reasons it worked for me, and why I think a similar out-of-home-office day can help fellow remote freelance workers.
1. It breaks up the work week
When I arrange my day at the workshop for the middle of the week, it completely changes the makeup of my schedule. Instead of dreading a long week at my kitchen table, my week is now divided into three separate parts: the early week, the workshop day, and the end of the week.
Other weeks I schedule it for the start or end of the week to enjoy a longer break from the writing. The flexibility has helped reduce the mundane feeling I had with remote work.
An out-of-office day does take a little sacrifice — it can mean turning down work/income to keep the day free or making up for the ‘lost’ time elsewhere. For me, I try to reduce the impact by working a few extra hours on the other week days, and when needed, I get up an hour earlier on Wednesday to attend urgent work matters before heading to the workshop.
2. It resets your ‘work’ brain
I love writing, but like any job, it can become monotonous. I often got stuck in a rut when I first started working remotely, found myself overthinking and underworking, and struggled to motivate myself knowing that every day was playing out the same.
Since implementing my weekly out-of-office day, my productivity has significantly increased. It’s not just that I have one less day to waste, but taking a proper break from my work and allowing my brain to focus on an entirely different task turbocharges my brain cells on my return.
When my mind is on other things, I find ideas randomly pop into my head, or those tricky sentences I struggled with the day before suddenly solve themselves. Another bonus of my desk escape is that I typically wake up the next day excited to get back to writing.
3. You can scratch your itch
When you do something every day for many years, it can be hard to let go fully. I ran my bespoke manufacturing business for five years before the pandemic made our working conditions impossible, and moving on has proven more difficult than I thought.
It turns out the things I loved about it — using my hands, the noise of the machinery, the smell of the wood shavings, the chit-chat during tea breaks — are deeply ingrained in me and my sense of routine, and the lack of they ate away at me.
Dipping my fingers into this world again is providing very therapeutic and is helping to reduce the voice in my head that asks, Did you make the right decision walking away from the business? Now I get the best of both worlds.
If you’re self-employed or a freelancer with a hobby or passion project that you shed, now’s the time to explore bringing it back. Bookmark a day to put the work aside and experiment with old pastimes.
After eight months of my weekly out-of-home-office day, I’m more energetic, productive, and balanced, resulting in the quality of my work — and the satisfaction I get from doing it — improving across the board.
If remote is the future, a day away from our home office will do us all the world of good.
Stephen Moore is a business, tech, and work writer currently working for Medium as both an editor of their in-house publications and as a creative consultant. Follow him on Twitter and Medium.