This week I couldn’t settle into my work to save my life. I was a sundress-clad, laptop-toting nomad, rambling from one spot to another, searching for that perfect vibe that would unleash my productivity, yet utterly unable to find it. Not having an office is both the blessing and curse of my particular breed of entrepreneurship.
Oh, I have a fabulous desk which I truly love, and it’s all set up just the way I like it in my tidy little home office. But it’s summer…and I have three young children…so that’s just not happening.
I’m also a card-carrying regular at a number of coffee shops around town where I can normally crank out work like a boss. But…my friendly neighborhood baristas have been setting the AC at subzero temperatures lately. After literally getting a blanket from my car to take into a coffee shop last week so I could concentrate on something other than my freezing toes, I needed a break from the madness.
In early summer I especially love to set myself up outside at a shady table under an umbrella where I can enjoy an iced coffee and catch a little breeze, but when it’s 90 degrees or hair-curlingly humid, or actually precipitating, that’s not an option either.
So this week, I was a frustrated wanderer.
Normally this is not a problem for me. Normally I cherish my officeless life. It’s a dream for so many reasons.
First of all, I fundamentally believe that physical space holds energy, and without a fixed office, if the energy in one location doesn’t suit the work I need to do that day, I’m grateful that I can choose another. I write best in certain kinds of spaces, coach better in others, and tackle financial and administrative matters best in still others. If I need to shift my energy, I get up and move. It works like a charm.
Second, I like being able to flex to my appointment schedule. Dropping a child off at camp, or taking a volunteer shift at school, or fitting in a dentist appointment are all easier if I can work in a location close to these commitments.
Third, it’s free. When I struck out on my own five years ago, I wasn’t ready to take on a rent expense. Now, even though I could pay rent if I chose to, I’m still choosing spend my rent money on my favorite coffee and lovely organic lunches so I can keep taking advantage of all those other benefits.
But this week, not having an office didn’t feel like a blessing. It felt like a curse. I just couldn’t decide where I needed to be. At one point, I actually sat in my car typing on my computer (bringing an entirely new level of literal to the words “laptop” and “mobile office”) because I could not figure out where else I should go! Parked in a corner of a lot, I opened my Mac and got to work. That seemed silly even to me, but it was better than not working at all.
As my mind sifted through the nearly infinite number of choices of places I could work, it stubbornly refused to choose one. And that’s really the curse of having too many choices in anything. Shopping for a dress at one bricks and mortar store with just a few options actually helps you to make a purchase. Shopping online and seeing thousands of dresses from hundreds of retailers can quickly escalate into an unproductive waste of an afternoon…and no dress.
The next time you find yourself paralyzed with indecision, eyes darting as you mentally sift through the countless options before you (anything from what to order for lunch to which nail color to wear this week), force yourself to narrow the field. Give yourself just a few options, then pick one and move on. Your goal is not to make the perfect decision in most of these day to day matters. Your goal is to get your focus back so you can move on to more important things.
Pay attention to how much time you’re spending mulling over inconsequential decisions. If it’s a pattern that is draining your time, practice limiting your options, making the call, and moving on. You’ll love the instant boost to productivity that this provides. Even if you find it in the front seat of your car!
Questions: Do you get paralyzed with indecision? What kinds of choices trip you up the most? Can you imagine using this technique to help you choose and move forward?