December 7: Office Hours™
Technically, this is not strictly a winter activity but I cannot deny that the importance of collective office hours grows as the weather gets crappier. I could probably draw you a graph of the directly proportional relationship between waning sunlight and intrinsic motivation, but I’m sure you don’t need it. Many of you understand all too well. Office Hours™ was invented by myself and my friend, Joan Hiller, to combat the free-for-all that is self-employment. The stronger the urge to wake up at noon, not properly dress yourself until 5:00 PM (if at all) and equate coffee with “a healthy, balanced meal”, the more you need Office Hours™.
To initiate Office Hours™, you simply send a text message/tweet to a non-judgmental, fellow freelancer. This message can be an overt invitation to OH™ or any of the Freelance Bat Signals/Safe Words:
1) “Are you watching this episode of The View?”
2) “I had chips and 3 cups of coffee for breakfast…”
3) “Help me.”
You muster all the motivation you can to dress yourself (shower optional), grab your laptop, leave the house and descend upon a worthy establishment. The perfect Mobile Office will have power outlets; free wireless internet; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; coffee AND alcohol; a patient wait-staff; and an underwhelming meal “rush” (a complete lack of “rush” is ideal). If there are less than 3 of these criteria, move on. The perfect Mobile Office is out there for you.*
Once you find the place, sit facing each other with your laptops and commence working, talking, and over-caffeinating. Trust me, you’ll get more done in 30 minutes than you will in 4 hours alone at your house. Always tip your server appropriately for the length of time you’re sitting there watching them fill your cup (this *MUST* exceed 20% if all you’re getting is coffee, you cheapskate). Bonus points for getting on a first name basis with them and informing them of your intentions: “Hello, <server name>! Just so you know, we’re going to be sitting here for about 2 – 8 hours, working, eating, and drinking. If it gets too busy, we will be respectful of that. We will also make it worth your while. <wink>” This will insure they don’t roll their eyes every time you walk through the door with your laptop bag. No one wants to be that guy.
*A home is a PERFECT Mobile Office as long as it’s not your own and you have access to a french press.