A lot of English trainers are freelancers, and there are plenty of reasons to love being one. It’s awesome managing your time and schedule the way you want to. Being able to work from home in your pyjamas with your favourite beverage in front of you. Or treating yourself to that lovely extended weekend getaway because you don’t have to show up somewhere at 9 am the next morning. Plus, when you are your own boss, the only one who can boss you around is, that’s right, your own humble self (and you can always file a complaint without dreading the consequences).
But before this turns into an ode to quitting your day job to join the freelance tribe, let’s not forget what most members of that tribe already know: sweet freedom has its downsides, too. One of them being the amount of focus and discipline it takes to follow through with your plans in the face of ever-increasing worldly distractions. Be it your smartphone buzzing with notifications every two minutes or that deli piece of Donauwelle whispering, “You know you want me now” from the depths of your fridge. Maybe it’s your partner and kids asking for your attention. Or simply the all-too-familiar surroundings that just won’t prompt you to sit down and get things done.
Join the inofficial alliance
Professional procrastinators have known this for a long time – it’s way easier to motivate yourself when there are others around working on their projects as well. Even if what they do is completely unrelated to what you do. Their simply being there and being busy can make all the difference in terms of motivation and productivity.
That’s why I call those folks the Secret Society of Temporary Colleagues and I’m happy to be a member of the club. For example, they helped me write the first part of this article. I’d been meaning to start off at home for quite a while, but something always seemed to get in the way and only the wind knows for how long that would have continued.
So seriously, here’s to you, SSTC workforce!
Getting yourself out there
You can meet those magical, obliviously helpful people in public places such as cafés, libraries, and, most importantly, coworking spaces. While all of these are beneficial, the latter have a number of advantages you won’t find elsewhere. Coworking spaces usually not only offer cheap or free trial days, but many also organise networking events and meetups. Some even allow you to use them as your business address.
But the best part is, you are meeting like-minded individuals who are there to work and move foreward just like you. The networking aspect can actually help you land jobs! One Eltabber reported that she finds a lot of work simply by eavesdropping and engaging in conversation with the people sitting next to her.
Think of it as the lonesome mountaineer’s shelter on the way to the summit. You escaped the grim weather just before dark to unexpectedly meet fellow travellers with similar destinations…who might become companions on the way. Now if that’s not a reason to celebrate!
My Top 5 Spaces in Berlin
So here’s my list of personal favourites. We designed the ELTABB journal in two of them (yep, they inspired us).
This little hidden gem near Frankfurter Allee has everything you need for a fruitful day. A pleasant, peaceful atmosphere, a tasty mediterranean menu and friendly international staff. It’s a café with a coworking space nicely tucked away in the back, so you can enjoy some privacy with your freshly-brewed Greek mountain tea. Membership isn’t required. You can buy tickets for one or three hours (5 and 10 euros) or a day pass (15 euros). If you buy a ten-day-pass, you’ll get an extra day for free. Tickets include a drink of your choice and water’s on the house.
This is definitely one of the bigger players! Yet they appear friendly and customer-oriented with very flexible, transparent pricing. Unicorn offers spaces in Mitte, Wedding, Potsdam and Lisbon. You can get daily access for 69 euros per month, a day pass (16,50), or just a half-day pass for 10 euros. Free water and hot beverages are included, members get discounts on food as well. Reservations are not necessary, so why not pick the cheapest option, drop by for a couple of hours and check it out?
3) Wonder Women
Wonder Coworking on Prenzlauer Allee is just for women (and their kids). Super-friendly owner Shari offers fixed and flexible desks, free hot drinks, filtered water and fresh fruit. There is a playroom for your toddler (she has a little baby daughter herself) and also a small library with books covering business topics and feminism. They offer regular events, workshops and after-work hangouts as well. Book a trial day for 5 euros and feel the wonder!
Hygge is the word to describe Tuesday Coworking. This is a cosy place in a quiet part of Schöneberg. They offer different rates for fixed, flexible and part time desks, starting from 85 euros per month. There are additional goodies such as free use of meeting rooms, free printing, hot drinks and 24/7 access. The owners are very community-oriented and regularly organise events covering a wide range of topics from social media to gardening. So if you’re looking for an extended living room, this is for you! You can book a free tour and trial day on their website.
The pigeonry is located in Prenzlauer Berg and probably comes as close to the ‘mountain shelter’ metaphor as it gets – you can actually live there! Since a lot of people who are new to the city have difficulty finding a place to stay, this might be a real option (short- or even long-term). If you feel you are not enough of a hippie to live in a community with raw vegans and yogis, just stick with the coworking space. Their prices are reasonable (42 euros per month for a part-time flex desk, 75 for a fixed one, 10 euros for a day pass) and you can show up for a trial day anytime during opening hours.
For more spaces in your kiez, best search on the internet. You should be able to find something in your area, usually with reviews.
What’s going on online?
For those who want to connect on the web, there is a virtual space for freelancers called Coworkies. This international community dedicates itself to networking across countries and has its own job and events database. For the best of both worlds, Meetup is a great starting point as well. Moreover, there are local groups offering coworking sessions in different places several times per week. Signing up for an event automatically enables you to join discussions and contact other group members, making it a whole lot easier to stay in touch with new friends.
So enjoy getting out there and immersing yourself in the world of collaboration and networking!
Here, you can read more about teaching English as a freelancer in Berlin.