Working Outdoors with a Laptop Update

I thought it was about time to update you all about my working outdoor activities.

Introduction

I live on an island and when possible I’ve been working outdoors using a laptop, as I’ve got plenty of countryside and different beaches to choose from locally. Working outdoor has been mostly positive, but it isn’t straightforward and requires planning. Over the last few months I’ve learnt a lot about how to maximise the experience, and thought I would write an update about the experience.

laptop and sky

The update on my mobile working

At the time of writing it is quite windy here and keeps raining, so I’m not working outdoors currently, but I’ve worked outdoors in some seriously hot weather recently, so my most important recent lesson has been to find shade and to use more sunblock!! For example I started using factor 30 sunblock, but the very next day I upgraded to factor 50! When using the laptop I discovered I was literally cooking my hands in the sun (, so shade became important.

Access to water and toilet facilities is also important. For instance I’m lucky that in one area I work, I’ve got access to public water taps, which I use throughout the day. Also I try to make sure I’m within a twenty minute walk of public toilets! I don’t try and conserve water, instead refilling regularly. If not nearby water taps, I take two bottles, one large and one small. I never let myself run out of water and if I need more, but can’t readily access it, I head back or to a location where I ‘know’ I can obtain more water.

I’ve been using an old Tecra 8200 to work on, mainly writing. I was thinking about building a homemade laptop cover / shade, as sun glare does dim the screen. However as I’m only writing, this hasn’t been a problem. I simply use a larger mouse pointer, changed my desktop background colour to black and made sure there were shortcut links to important applications on the desktop. If I was going to attempt email and other activities I probably would build a laptop shade, but as I’m mainly writing I’m not going to bother currently.

The laptop when not in use goes into a pouch, in my backpack that was designed to carry a laptop. When using the laptop I generally place it on the ‘Lap-It’, which is a fantastic small lightweight lapdesk. The old Tecra has not let me down, even though it is being used in hot weather. I’ve lowered the processor speed, and have two batteries in it, always carrying a spare battery already charged if required. I have one battery in the front and one in the secondary bay instead of a CD drive.

I’ve got two custom power profiles setup on the laptop, which have proved incredibly important when using the laptop, as have the two batteries and the spare. Literally the difference between having enough power, else having to head back earlier.

lap-it lapdesk

lap-it lapdesk

Once I get back indoors, I always charge the batteries, then switch for two others, so I’m not always using the same batteries each day. I’ve got into the routine of making sure I’m ready for the next day as quickly as possible. I don’t rush around in the morning, as when working outdoors, especially in hot weather it is important to be prepared, and have all the items you need.

I wear my baseball cap in sunny weather without fail. Plus I don’t walk out the door without already having put the sunblock on and my mobile phone is always charged.

I always try and travel light, but also make sure I have items I need. Currently when out my backpack always has spare shoelaces, carrier bag, sunblock, digital camera, spare batteries (for digital camera), spare charged laptop battery, tissues, water bottle and lunch container with freezer block inside. Without the freezer block my sandwiches do melt!

laptop at the beach

If I know I will be sitting on an uncomfortable surface such as pebbles, I take a cushion and towel, in a separate bag.

Final thoughts

I’ve enjoyed benefits of working outdoors such as the exercise and enjoying amazing views. I’m a fast writer, and this has not changed whilst working outdoors. In the future I will probably write another update about my mobile working experience, but please don’t hesitate to give feedback and to tell me about your experiences of either working outdoors or whilst travelling.

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Mark D
Mark D
9 years ago

Intersting article. I’ve been thinking of a way to work outdoors for a while, i write music and think i would be more inspired sitting on a sunny beach than indoors. But my current laptop screen isn’t visible in bright sunlight, how do you get round this problem?

I’ve seen some toughbooks that have brighter screens, but i’d imagine they use a ton of batter power. And the other possibility would be an e-ink screen, which aren’t currently on many laptops, and i think they’re black and white.

Mark D
Mark D
9 years ago

Oh, another question – have you used any solar power chargers? I was thinking of buying one, i don’t think they put out a lot of power but it should give a bit of extra battery life.