Wifi is a brilliant thing in this day and age. It allows us to do all sorts of things without wasting our own precious data usage limits. It allows us to check into a bar on Foursquare (useless), look up an actor’s name during a movie at the cinema (a crime), and cruise for sex based on GPS locations (well…).
It’s also an excellent tool for those of us who hate the thought of staying inside all day at the office. Rather, it permits us to go to the local café or Starbucks and spend all day there instead, spending money on food and drinks that we otherwise wouldn’t need to. Bless.
Freelancers need it most of all when the view of our bedroom or dining room offices – the floors strewn with clothes and where last night’s bowl of melted ice-cream still sits on the bedside table after we fell asleep watching episodes of old sitcoms on YouTube – is just not doing it for us. Finding a good place to plant your butt for a few hours takes time and research. It’s serious business, so here are some helpful hints for finding the perfect wifi location to work in.
1. Make Sure They Actually Have Wifi!
I know this sounds obvious, but you don’t want to sit down and have ordered your muffin and coffee to only then realise the wifi password is only available for staff, or that you have to pay extra for it. No thank you! If I wanted to sit around and gorge on pastries while not doing any work, I would have stayed home.
2. Inspect for Outlets
Casually waltz into your chosen café to inspect the menu, but while you’re there, make sure they have outlets for any charging needs you may have. Laptops, iPads and iPhones need their juice and there’s no point going and setting up shop if you are going to have to leave after an hour and 20 minutes because you can’t reach the plug.
3. Look for Appropriate Menu Options
Burgers, for instance, are not the optimal food to indulge in while tap-tap-tapping away at your review of that new Brooklyn hipster band’s reggae-meets-jazz infusion album that you’re writing about for college press. Neither is anything involving much sauce or sloppy condiments. Likewise, anything requiring a steak knife is fraught with danger. Lord knows your attempt to cut through a tough piece of meat goes horribly wrong and you end up knocking a glass of beer over your computer.
4. Alcohol is Fine in Moderation
Speaking of beer. This is a good rule to have for life in general, but don’t be the fool who is attempting to write that next big Hollywood screenplay while chugging down Long Island Iced Tea on a hot summer’s day only to notice tomorrow that all you wrote was 24 pages of a word-for-word remake of Showgirls. Remember, there’s a difference between a cheeky glass of red early in the afternoon and an embarrassing bottle of red. Or two. Or four.
5. Find a Creative Energy
It’s all well and good to find a location with outlets, great food, a coffee selection to die for, and free internet, but if the place is as sterile as a sperm donation waiting room then your creative juices (pardon the pun) are barely going to flow (again, sorry) above a slow ebb (this was a bad metaphor). Instead, try and find places with a creative atmosphere. Maybe sit next to that group of college-aged kids that are discussing politics and Russian literature so that you know what true pain and suffering really is. Sit in that French-themed café with the cute waitress who inspires a love poem. People-watch on a busy street to inspire the main character of your next novel. If you’re lucky enough to afford a museum membership then try a space in there. Art fosters art above all.
6. Learn to Appreciate Tea
If you’re sitting in Starbucks all day, there’s only so much coffee that you (and the person using the public bathroom stall after you) can handle. Ask for a refreshing peppermint tea in between or research how to properly make a milky Earl Grey lest the worker earning minimum wage does not. While you’re at it, make sure you take a book with you so you can take a break from all your hard work. A book and a cup of tea is rather relaxing between essays.
7. Location! Location! Location!
There’s no sense hauling your life (laptop, chargers, a book, your sanity) for an hour across town. Try and choose somewhere close to your home lest you forget anything or need to suddenly rush off with an acute case of rumbly stomach in public.
8. Find Friendly Staff
It really can’t be said enough that if you’re not nice to the staff of your chosen hangout they will not be nice in return. You’re potentially one bad tip or rude remark away from having that espresso “accidentally” spilled onto your lap. If you’re able to build a rapport with the staff, even better. If they like you there’s less chance of them kicking you out when you’ve been sitting there for 45 minutes without ordering anything.