Meredith and I are roughing it for a few weeks while we are between house sits. We flew to Faro, Portugal and have been inhabiting a well situated studio apartment in Portimao, located a short 5 minute walk to one of the local malls called Continente Centro Comercial. Since it would be near impossible to work in a studio apartment for extended periods of time, we decided to take our laptops and setup our office in the food court area of the mall. I haven’t spent much time in malls around the world, but this one seems clean, upscale, and with all the usual shops one would expect – mobile phone stores, book store, and Portuguese pet store selling fighting rabbits. Just kidding, I was only testing you to see if you were still reading!
Another option is the local library – a ten minute walk from our studio apartment location. We have yet to visit the library, but will probably go sometime this week in order to check it out and see if it suits a digital nomad workspace.
The idea of physically working on the beach crossed my mind. All we would need to do is go buy one of those cheap plastic beach chairs, an umbrella, and a drink holder for the inexpensive beer. Setup shop, and live the life that everyone imagines is a digital nomad should live.
That’s when Meredith shattered my daydream session by pointing out that the wind would likely blow sand inside my laptop, causing damage, and the glare from the sun makes it difficult to read a laptop screen. Darn her logic! I want my sandy beach office!!
In general, I feel that working from a Portuguese mall has skyrocketed my productivity. No more distractions (unless you count trying to understand and learn a little bit of Portuguese language from the locals all chatting around me). That being said, I only have one data point – today – to judge, so its not exactly a valid conclusion.
If you want to become focused on doing what you have to do, nothing focuses a mind like knowing that you are only a 20 minute walk from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And with more sunny days than many places in the world, a sunshine guarantee is enticing for working hard and finishing up early.
A few other pros of working in a Portuguese food court:
- Easy lunch break options
- Decent chairs for sitting long periods of time
- The food smells so good that it makes me want to eat all the time. The giant supermarket on the level below with amazing pastries and treats (like these) doesn’t help either:
- The supermarket also sells super cheap and good wine. The Portuguese do it right – white wine and fish at lunch! I won’t ask any questions, I love it!
- Babies crying is universally annoying. They don’t have a cute Portuguese accent, which would possibly make the whining slightly more bearable.
- Drunk in any language means yelling. Some old man decided to start yelling for no apparent reason. The regular old folk sitting enjoying their espresso sort of smiled and smirked as he departed the scene … hence why I am sure he is the local drunk.
- Kitchen staff drop trays, cutlery, and other dishes, which produces sudden and startling noise.
- Super annoying sporadic whistle/bell noises in the background. One in particular sounds like a fire alarm warning, which slightly bothers me and keeps me on edge. Perhaps another good thing as it makes me work faster (to get to the beach!)
- This post is 4 weeks before Christmas. That means a never ending soundtrack of mall Christmas music playing in the background. I love Christmas as much as anyone, but I prefer to celebrate closer to the date. And not in the food court of a mall. I don’t need visions of sugarplums dancing in my head while I write. If you’ve ever been on “Its a Small World” in Disneyland you will get some idea of my current dilemma.
Solution: BOSE Headphones! Love my BOSE headphones to drown out background noise.
Overall, I’ll take the minor distractions and noise of working in a Portuguese mall any day. Like I said, the beach is calling and I need my sandy stretch of Portimao to act as a pumice stone to smooth my callused heels. Gotta keep the feet looking good in the warm winter weather 😉