While our unique living environment is a topic for another post, I’ll give you a brief rundown now so you have some context for this one:
So because 80% of our work requires access to reliable internet, we’ve become quite familiar with every coffee shop, taproom, library, and bookstore within the city limits that could serve as an office. And because I like a change of scenery every now and again (what online entrepreneur doesn’t?) I can only go to my favorite coffee shop a few days in a row before I feel all too familiar with the menu and start to get annoyed at the many other laptop warriors when my favorite table has been snagged.
What do I look for in a remote “office?” Well, besides wiFi and coffee, I’m always looking for places that offer as many services as possible so that I have the greatest chance of not having to leave before my work is done. Usually that means coffee + food, or at the most coffee + food + a beer (to last me straight through happy hour on a long day). So while I daydream of co-working spaces like Coworksurf in Portugal with an onsite pool, my options in Boise have been somewhat more limited.
Grayson and I started climbing about a month ago, half inspired by watching Free Solo and half encouraged by our much cooler friends who had already been climbing for years. It only took me a few days at the gym to realize that I had accidentally stumbled into the coolest unintentional office space in Boise.
Aside from a bunch of awesome rocks to climb, Asana has showers, a sauna, free wiFi, awesome music, and big wooden tables that overlook the gym. The lofted space in the picture above is technically a bar, but during the day it’s completely empty, meaning that I have the “office” all to myself. And if I’m still around when happy hour hits, the office turns into a taproom, and I end the workday with a nice cold beer.
The best part about working at Asana though, and the reason why I might just make it a more permanent home for my workdays (at least for a little while), is the ability to run down the stairs and hop on the wall to climb around whenever I need a break from staring at my computer screen. This ability to move my body, rest my brain, and get a quick burst of endorphins whenever I feel a screen headache creeping up or agitation at a difficult piece of code, has become a must have for my work environment— and it’s just not possible at 99% of the coffee shops I’ve ever been to.
And this time on the wall doesn’t just make me a happier person, it makes me a more creative designer and entrepreneur. I’m sure there are many ways to explain this connection, but one in particular stands out as especially poignant: climbing during the workday gives me moments of solitude.
I don’t mean solitude as having no other people around, because there certainly are. Here I’m talking about the definition of solitude that Michael S. Irwin and Raymond Kethledge use in their book Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership through Solitude:
“solitude is freedom from inputs from other minds.”
This kind of solitude, in our digital age, is depressingly rare. When I’m at a coffee shop and I need a break from work, often I’ll find myself scrolling through facebook, calling a friend, or listening to a podcast. I might feel like I’m resting, but really I’m just trading input from clients for input from friends or strangers.
Unlike those other activities, taking breaks to climb truly allows my mind to have freedom from all external input. Besides acknowledging the rocks under my hands and feet, my thoughts are free to wander and the part of me that is creative— in a unique and different way than anyone else in the world— is awakened.
And then I head back upstairs, and I do better work.
Where do you work? Do you have ways to find solitude in your work day? What does that look like for you? I would love to hear in the comments below.
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