The burning summer question: can you work at the beach?

TV writer Sarah Francis takes laptop, pen and paper outdoors, to see if it’s possible to do a productive day’s work

Sarah Francis trying to do a day’s work on Sandymount beach . Photograph: Alan Betson

Sarah Francis trying to do a day’s work on Sandymount beach . Photograph: Alan Betson

Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 01:00

The proposition of working at the beach is hard to pass up. Sitting at my desk looking longingly out the window, I reason that surely I could get as much work done at the beach with a cooling sea breeze, right? In fact it might be even less distracting because I wouldn’t be preoccupied with wanting to be outside. This is a great idea.

It’s easy to put my office in my bag. All I need is my laptop, notebooks and a bottle of water. I hop on a Dublin Bike and spin down from the city centre to Sandymount strand, convincing myself that this is going to be a super-productive day, chuckling at the thought of all the poor saps melting in their offices.

“That’s the great thing about my work,” I think. “I can do it anywhere.”

When I get there though, I realise I am completely underprepared. The tide has gone out, the sand is still damp and I have nothing to sit on. The sea breeze is initially lovely, but then it starts to get chilly.

I look enviously at other sunbathers, and try to edge myself closer to them to take advantage of their windbreakers. That doesn’t go down well.

Technology is a terrible idea at the beach, which is probably why I am the only person with a laptop.

I am freaking out about getting sand in it, and anyway, there’s no point having it open because you can’t see the screen in the glare. I give up on that and opt for pen and paper.

Technology is great, but there are certain things it can’t replace. I’m here to get stuff done, so I make a to-do list. Then I realise I can’t get anything on the list done sitting on my ass at the beach.

Will I do it again? Next time I’ll bring togs. The only productive thing I can imagine doing is catching up on some reading work. Watching people having fun on the beach when you’re trying to work is a lot more frustrating than being at a desk.

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