We're year into working from home, and staying productive is proving difficult. One service has helped me more than anything else.
On a weekend in 2019, I paid $25 to join CaveDay for a “Morning Session” in Midtown Manhattan. It’s essentially a supervised study group for freelancers and the startup community. You also hold yourself accountable by sharing what you plan to get done with your table.
I asked a few people why they attended CaveDay. It costs money and time to attend. Why not just work from home?
“Just wanting to get out of the house” was answered a few times, but so was “accountability.” My favorite answer came from a small business owner. She books a CaveDay at the end of every month, where she goes through her receipts. “I don’t have to worry about them all month, because I know I’ve allocated that time for receipts, and I know I’ll do it because it’s CaveDay”.
CaveDay is just as much about scheduling time to work as it is about creating a more positive ethos around your work. They bring you through simple methods for accomplishing goals. As time goes on, it’s helped me on my regular workdays too.
As March 2020 rolled around, CaveDay’s physical spaces needed to pivot for remote workers. Like most, they chose Zoom as the platform and built a new website around it. Now, they are charging $40 a month and giving out unlimited “caves.”
Like my experience in 2019, a cave is guided by an instructor. A question about the day’s work is asked, and we’re broken up into breakout rooms in Zoom. After a minute or so, it’s back to the main group to start the first “sprint.” Sessions are made up of one or three sprints and run throughout the day.
You might think this adds tedium to the workday. However, I believe it has a purpose, and there’s more to it than a regular work-from-home day.
If you’re willing to be honest with yourself, CaveDay will keep you accountable. Nobody will check your work, thankfully. You’ll sometimes find yourself back in your original breakout room to discuss what everyone did with their time.
It also makes me accountable for my time. I need to be there on time, because if I miss the 9:30 session, I won’t be able to jump in until midday.
When you have to actually write down what you plan to do, you’ll realize what can realistically be done in a day’s work. It forces you to focus on the important. When I finish up for the day now, I know that I couldn't have reasonably worked harder.
CaveDay is for the more social among us, I figure. They have a forum and the occasional event, and each session asks a question to get people talking. For me, I love the stretching exercises before sitting down to work. A community that I can drop in and out of is an easy way to separate work from home.
As a business expense, $40 a month is totally reasonable for me. I don’t use it every day or even every week. However, when I need a project done, CaveDay has helped me get over the pandemic burnout. They’ve expanded their times now too, so it works for me on both sides of the Atlantic.
I use it for client work, but others have found different uses. Some get lost in a book, learn new skills, or research new project ideas. The biggest question is whether CaveDay will continue in the same form after the pandemic.