I knew when I arrived in Japan for the first time, that I was going to be doing work primarily in the house at first especially since the time zone difference meant I needed to be online during the night in Tokyo. Not many coworking spaces cater to all night working unless you have the more expensive reserved spaces which I wasn’t quite prepared for.
So what did I do?
At first I had to figure out the best rhythm for working over night. When do I go to sleep? When do I wake up? When do I need to be back to the house before the day officially starts? It was all new.
The first few nights were the hardest as I wanted to explore some during the day and then get to work at night. Essentially I burned the candle on both sides that first week until I created the discipline to not try to do too much.
I was online by 10 PM and worked until about 6 AM in Tokyo which is 8 AM to 4 PM in the east coast of the United States.
At this time of night, the internet was fast since few people were using it and the house was quiet since no one was awake. I did need to pay attention to how loud I was being but that is no different than a coworking space. It is all about paying attention to if you are impacting anyone and then adjust accordingly if you are. After all, this was also a shared space.
The key difference between working in a coworking space and working at home for me is the solitude. There are no short chats or breaks in the middle of the day where you can build some bonds or friendships with the team or other coworkers. You are either working or you are not.
Limited Fresh Air
Without a space to go, I also often had moments where I stayed in the house for a day or two before I told myself to just get out of the house and walk.
Work / Life Balance
The only thing I had was an already paid for workplace (the house) but it didn’t really fill my basic needs of being social, having work friends, or having a routine of leaving the house to start my work and then shutting it off when I got back. I lived, worked, and slept in the same area which for me is not a good way to create balance.
A New Discovery! Japanese Coffee Culture
Although I prefer to work out of coworking and shared workspaces almost everyone I am traveling to, it is not always an option. Whether I am in an expensive city or in the middle of nowhere, there are other options of working that are needed.
One thing that I was about to discover in Japan though was the coffee culture and a new rhythm. This included going to explore an area for a few hours and get some work done during non businesses hours in a coffee shop. I felt more fulfilled by being next to people during part of the day while also still being online at night when I needed to be for all of my calls and other weekly requirements.
Next up, I will cover Japanese coffee shop culture and also why Starbucks is so important for digital nomads around the world. Just a hint: It’s not the coffee.