Photo by Shine Xiong on Unsplash

SHOOSH!

I grew up in a library. Okay, I didn’t actually grow up in one, like some weird, Dickensian mongrel child raised by librarians and hiding in the dumpsters at night. I just went in them a lot.

Yeah, I was that geek. As a kid I spent most of my time outside of school riding my bike to the library (on my own, which in 2020 is apparently a capital offense in several states) and burying myself in the stacks. There were also Saturday movie matinees (on a 16mm projector back then) and records to listen to. You could even check out puppets. No kidding. Puppets.

As parents and homeschoolers (double geek), Jenni and I fostered a love for the library in our kids. Any time we’ve moved to a new city, the first thing we do is go get library cards. Often before getting our new driver’s licenses, because the DMV sucks and books are forever.

The past year, our youngest was involved in two local youth productions. My job was to take him to rehearsals and make myself scarce (mostly at his request). Since rehearsals lasted about two hours in the late afternoon, I would haul my laptop and work stuff to the local library so I could at least get some work done while I hid my shameful adultness from the youths. Our local Los Angeles County library has decent WiFi, big tables, and outlets. It’s basically a 100% free co-working space. Sound cool? It kind of is cool. However, there are some trade-offs you make when you work out of a library. Not deal breakers, more like little compromises.

First come, first served

You have to grab a table fast. Most libraries have ample table space, but sometimes you’re competing with someone who brought their entire law library and schematic diagrams with them. Real estate is precious here. Kind of like outlets. Similar to a coffee shop, you have to snag your power fast.

No Coffee

Speaking of coffee, they don’t serve it. You have to bring your own. No, you can’t check out a Chemex. I’m not sure you can even get puppets anymore.

WiFi

It’s usually pretty decent if you’re not on BitTorrent or doing some crazy downloading. That’s sort of frowned upon anyway. You usually need a library card to log in, but that’s free. Sometimes it can take some fanoogling to get hooked in, and don’t count on the library staff to help you. They can give you the basic instructions, but they’re not your personal IT department.

Headphones. Headphones. Headphones.

I wrote that three times so neither of us will forget. The couple times I forgot, I seriously regretted it. Libraries have changed since the 1970s. No longer is there a sweet old librarian gently shooshing people when they get loud. They don’t do that anymore. So unless your ears are plugged and cranking The Sex Pistols, you’re going to hear every detail of how Clive’s Toastmasters meeting went.

The other thing that’s changed is that children are now encouraged to play freeze tag in the stacks. Somewhere, right now, thousands of sweet, dead librarians are spinning in their graves. I don’t blame the kids. They aren’t allowed to play outside their homes anymore without a government-approved guardian standing watch, so they have to get their yah-yahs out somewhere.

Headphones will save your life.

Oh yeah. Books

Did I mention that they have books? They do and they’re all free to borrow. You can’t do that at Starbucks or CoWorkNation. It’s pretty cool because sitting in the middle of a library with all those resources at your fingertips can inspire new ideas. It does for me. I can’t visit the library without browsing a few titles at random. You can borrow CDs and DVDs, too. Did I mention it’s free? It’s free.

Do yourself a favor and go get a library card. Take your laptop or Bullet Journal or giant schematic diagrams and give working at the library a try. They’re still an amazing resource and the more we use them the better chance they’ll stick around for a while.

For those of us who work at home, carving out our own special working space is a priority. Depending on your living situation, you might be lucky enough to have an entire room that’s designated as your permanent office. Or, you may feel fortunate if you can even hack together a tiny part of the bedroom that isn’t taken up by dirty laundry. Whatever you can manage, it’s crucial to have some kind of designated space (even temporary) where you can conduct your business.

Have you ever considered how amazing it can be to also carve out your own movement space? Maybe you have one and you’re loving it and it saves your life every day and you want to send me photos (please do). Or, maybe you’re wondering what the hell is a movement space?

A movement space is exactly what the name implies. Like your office, it’s a designated place for you to move your body that’s different from other designated spaces in your home, like the kitchen or the bathroom. Obviously, we move in those spaces. We move in all spaces. So how is this different?

What is a Movement Space?

It sounds fancy, but it’s really just a space designated for you to move your body without interruption, sort of like a space for meditation or spiritual practice. Like having a designated space for sleeping and for working, it’s a place just for you to move.

I’m sure you’ve read about the importance of getting up and moving regularly to avoid stiffness, (and possibly even death caused by deep-vein thrombosis. That’s fun to think about. Thanks, WebMD). It’s important for humans who sit a lot to get up and move frequently.

Creating a special space to practice a little bit of movement is just as helpful as having a designated place to work. If you claim a place for it, it’s more likely you’ll do it consistently.

What do you do there?

Unlike suiting up and going to a gym to lift weights or ride the elliptical, a movement space is more for things like easy stretching or yoga. That’s what I do in my space. You could do headstands, push ups, or even walk in place. The magic is in the fact that it’s totally your call. You decide how you’ll move there, and nobody is judging your movements or telling you to “AMP IT UP, NERDS!” like in your spin class.

You don’t need to build an addition for this

Your movement space doesn’t have to be a Silver Linings Playbook-style studio behind your house. In fact, it can just be a little bit of space on the floor. The important thing is that you designate that space as yours and it’s private, even if only while you’re using it.

I would suggest that you make it someplace other than the place where you work, if possible. The reason is that part of the joy and effectiveness of having that space is that it’s separate from your working space.

Here’s mine:

The rug is from IKEA, the glare is from the Sun.

This is actually a spot on the floor in my wife’s office. It’s got a big fluffy rug and just enough room for me to stretch out or do some yoga. I love this photo because it demonstrates that your space doesn’t have to be ready for a Dwell Magazine shoot. It’s not IKEA-catalog sterile and perfect and that’s okay for me. I mostly use it in the morning and of course, with her permission because it’s her work space. And yes, that’s an air mattress. We’re testing it because our son is coming home for the holidays.

I’ve actually designated even smaller spaces when traveling, like a little corner of my hotel room or once in the middle of a downtown law firm’s library (hardly used, very quiet, new carpeting).

The important thing is that your space is ready for you when you are. If you have to move the laundry or clean up the kids’ toys every time, chances are you’ll just say “forget it” and go back to work stiff and cranky. So designate your spot and keep it ready, always.

Share your space!

Do you have a movement space? Are you going to set one up? I’d love to hear about it. Photos optional, but always encouraged. Leave a comment below.