UK, Essex, Harlow, high angle view of woman working from home in her garden using a laptop
I pushed the passenger seat up as far as possible. I had to make room in my new office so I could use the cup holders, stretch my legs, and reach the vital device between the front seats (aka the Apple iPhone). That’s right: I recently made the decision to work in the back seat of a car for a few days and keep my phone connected to the car instead of in my pocket.
I’ve found incredibly strange and unique ways to work in silence and isolation, especially while writing this column and a book coming out later next year. These are my favorites so far; I can find a few more and share how they worked too.
1. The back seat of a car
Some of you know that in my job I also test cars and have worked as a journalist for the past 20 years. Strangely enough, I never thought of working in one. I tested a Hyundai Palisade a few weeks ago and found the back seat to be spacious and comfortable. The nice thing about working in the car is that you can use the battery for a while and play surround sound music. The view is spectacular – I worked in a windowed office like no other on a hill overlooking a lake. By the way, you’ll need a small and light laptop (I prefer the new MacBook Air) as it actually sits on your lap while you work.
2. A distant tent
It is extremely strange to do real work in a tent, but I found a company that makes a massive protective cover that not only isolates you from the elements (i.e. the insects) but also allows you to get a good night’s sleep. I used a Big Agnes Big House 6 tent that had space for a portable desk and chair. I also worked on a Tentrr campsite for about three days earlier in the summer. The websites are all the same so you can focus on the real work instead of figuring out something new. During my travels I used pans from a company called Snow Peak which were fantastic.
3. An island
I’m really creative when it comes to finding jobs, but this one takes the cake. I used a foldable kayak that I put in my trunk and paddled onto an island a few months ago. It was a unique experience because I was completely alone, but that made it calm and serene. Once you overlook the fact that there is no running water and the challenges of charging your gear, this is a perfect setting. To get to an island, you may need your own kayak or canoe. I also packed a ton of poured coffee packs, heated water over a campfire, and lived on jerks, fruit, and nuts.
4. A hotel that is more like an apartment
I need rest to be able to work, but I also need a place where I can distribute all of my gear. I recently camped at a hotel called the Cambria Hotel Bloomington Mall of America, which has a suite that feels, looks, and acts more like an apartment. There’s a full desk and chair, kitchen area, hallway to store your coat and other gear, and one of the coolest bluetooth-enabled mirrors I’ve ever seen. When choosing a hotel, you will find one with a desk and work area. Many newer hotels these days are small and cramped.
5. A spiritual retreat center
To be honest, my favorite place to work was a spiritual retreat. I’m not going to share the name because it’s a hidden secret and it’s absolutely awesome. There is no wi-fi. No cell signal. There isn’t even running water. You are alone in the forest. Henry David Thoreau would have loved this place. I wrote my columns and worked on a new book with a view of an empty forest without people. An owl that was held back frightened me one night without spit. It was the best place I’ve ever worked.
Note: If you really want to learn more about the Midwest Retreat Center, get in touch with me via email and I will give you more information.