Find Your Preferred Style of Work
Some people are highly social creatures and thrive in busy, interactive environments. Other people prefer to be lone wolves, zeroing in on “deep work” as advocated by Cal Newport.
It’s important to find a place of comfort within yourself regarding where you fall in that spectrum. If your job requires you to be surrounded by people who love to collaborate in groups and enjoy frequent office banter, but you just wish everyone would leave you the hell alone, then you’re going to be miserable. (Trust me, I know this first hand!)
Likewise, if your job often leaves you isolated and working by yourself, and you miss the feeling of solitary and teamwork that group workspaces offer, you will be equally unhappy. (I’ve heard stories of people who tried the work-from-home freelancer route, and ended up rejoining a company with an office because they liked working in a real-life space with colleagues around.)
If you’re not sure where you land between these two poles, I highly recommend you try every kind of work environment you can. Work at home. Work at coworking spaces. Work at coffee shops. Work at company offices. Find work you can do while traveling. (I strongly encourage you to try the “digital nomad” thing for at least a week or two!)
After a number of years of trying all of these different options (and feeling very fortunate I had the chance to do so), I’ve found that my sweet spot is working by myself at a coworking space, with a bit of travel around the local area each week. I like coworking spaces because you can work on your own projects undisturbed, yet you don’t feel like you’re turning into a troll staring at the walls in your own house every day. (Plus I have two small children, so getting deep work done when they’re around is nearly impossible!)
And the “bit of travel” is key for me—our family recently moved to the Portland, Oregon area, so there’s a lot to see and do here that is all new to me. The flexibility of heading out on little mini-trips at various times each week is why I love being a Free Agent. If I were chained to my desk 9 to 5 every day, I would simply wilt.
So how about you? What is your preferred work style? Are you a fan of solo endeavors? Do you like to move forward in a collaborative team environment? Do you like regular jumps between the two? Ask yourself these questions and you will level up to a new sense of productivity and satisfaction.