This post comes from Judy Heminsley, founder of Work From Home Wisdom.

One of the greatest joys of becoming self-employed and working from home is your ability to work when and where you want. I’m sure anyone who’s spent any time in the traditional workplace has been through the agonies of trying to look busy in office hours, not because you’re work-shy, but one of the greatest joys of becoming self-employed and working from home is your ability to work when and where you want. I’m sure anyone who’s spent any time in the traditional workplace has been through the agonies of trying to look busy in office hours, not because you’re work-shy, but because the muse just wasn’t with you. It would have been much more sensible to admit defeat and leave for the day, but how many employers and managers are that tolerant?

But now you no longer have to conform to someone else’s expectations of when you ought to be productive. You can go with the flow, using your own natural rhythms to work when the time is right, and dedicate the rest of the time to other commitments, shopping, exercise and so on.

If you haven’t had the freedom to work outside conventional office hours you may not know when your best times are, but don’t worry, there are plenty of clues once you start to think about it. Remember a time when you found a project easy to get into, when you got lost in it and it all just flowed, when you were surprised to find how much time had passed when you finished.

What time of day was it? Some people like to get up early to take advantage of the quiet morning hours before they’re disturbed by phone calls and emails. Others take longer to get going and don’t hit their stride till later. Some like to burn the midnight oil and work into the early hours.

I was an early bird when I ran my cleaning business, because I had to go and check offices had been cleaned properly before my clients started arriving for work. So I was surprised when I started this very different business that I couldn’t seem to get going until later. Now I find mornings are good for routine work and research, and my creative juices flow best in the afternoon and evening.

What has been happening in the background at the times when you were most productive? Was there silence, some music playing quietly, or was the radio tuned to a talk show? Some people need peace and quiet so they can focus, others find it distracting. On home worker I spoke to said she plays the radio at a volume low enough so she can’t catch what is being said, but sufficiently high that the house doesn’t feel empty.

And where were you working when you produced your best work? At your desk, on the sofa, in a cafe? Lots of home workers sit at their desk for routine admin, and for creative work move elsewhere such as their favourite armchair, or outside if weather permits.

My partner Andy and I lived on the coast of SW England for seven years and noticed we had our most productive business meetings on the beach. Recently I discovered a new word that explains why – a ‘liminal’ space is somewhere that’s neither here nor there, a threshold. The beach is at the edge of both land and sea, and away from business and domestic worries.

Similarly my mind always ranges free on a train journey. I might start out by doing something quite routine like drafting replies to emails, but somehow my brain turns easily to generating ideas and I end up jotting down notes for future projects and articles.

Coffee shops are good for allowing your mind to wander too. I like to leave my laptop at home and take a notebook and pen so I can jot down thoughts as they come to me, but not feel as though I’m working.

Have fun experimenting with working at different times and in different places, where it’s quiet and where there is bustle. The variety adds richness to your life and you may well find it also improves the quality and quantity of your output. Where have you been most creative, or most engrossed? Did it surprise you? Have you been able to repeat the experience?

Judy Heminsley is the founder of Work from Home Wisdom, the blog that provides advice and inspiration for home workers. On her galleries you can see many of the places home workers have chosen to set up workspaces.

Three months after my best friend Chris Utterback lost her battle with breast cancer, I moved out of my suburban Minneapolis apartment, disposed of about a third of my belongings, put the rest in storage, and set off on an eight month sabbatical.

I had decided that the purpose of my journey was Creative Renewal. That was about all I knew.

“What will you do when you get back?” alarmed acquaintances would ask. I’d shrug and answer, “I’m going with questions, not with answers.”

One thing I did know is that I was open to change. I would abandon my business, move to a new city (or country) if that’s what I discovered along the way.

My adventure began with a family reunion in Italy. After that, I was on my own.

I had no itinerary and for the first time in my life found myself getting up in the morning and asking myself, “Where do you want to go today?”

Even after weeks of exploring, I still had no clarity about where I would land once my travels were over.

Eventually, I headed to Greece to spend a week with my archeologist sister Nancy. When I arrived, I discovered that Athens was under a heavy cloud of smog which made breathing difficult so I spent my days alone in Nancy’s apartment.

One day I found a stack of Smithsonian magazines and decided to amuse myself with them. Little did I know that an answer I was seeking was awaiting me.

The article that caught my eye was about mobile home parks that were also intentional communities. Some were designed for senior living, others were even more specific, such as the one in Malibu for retired members of the Screen Writers Guild.

The author had interviewed all sorts of people about why they’d chosen this lifestyle. In one instance she said, “For them, a home is not a status symbol. It’s a rest stop between adventures.”

A rest stop between adventures.

The moment I read those words, I knew that was the definition of home that I’d been seeking. I also realized that where that home was located was less important than how it was created to nurture me when I was there.

After all, when we run a business from the spot we call home, it takes on a different dimension than it would if home was merely a place to sleep and store our belongings.

Several years ago writer Michael Shapiro came up with an idea for a book that would  interview travel writers about their lives and careers, but Shapiro decided to conduct his interviews in the writers’ homes.The result is a wonderful collection of stories called A Sense of Place. 

Rick Steves, Frances Mayes, Pico Iyer, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux thirteen other writers share their inspirations, why they’ve chosen to live where they do, and lessons learned on the road. Their personal visions are as unique as they are, but they each seem to have chosen a hometown that supports their visions and restores them for future travels.

My own definition of home has evolved a bit since I first encountered that description that inspired me. Perhaps it’s because I work from home that I want it to be more than a rest stop between adventures.

Home, for me, also needs to be a place that inspires adventures—whether I’m traveling or not. In many ways, creating such a place is more difficult than being inspired in a strange land.

After I had moved into my latest home, my daughter stopped by to see the progress. I was delighted when she said, “You’ve lived in such different places, but they’re always so you!”

If the place you call home isn’t a kitchen for your mind, how can you change that? And if it is such a place, how did you accomplish that?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you want some inspiration, visit the home office gallery gathered by Judy Heminsley.  You’ll see wonderful environments that bear no resemblance to a cubicle.

It’s been two weeks since I put the last items in the POD, turned in my house keys, and left Las Vegas for my new home in Valencia, CA.  No one was more surprised than me that I find myself still without a new place to call my own.

I had no thoughts of moving this year, but when the house I’d been happily renting for four and half years was being sold, I had no say in the matter.

I decided it was time to reconnect with my family and join them in California. To say that things have not gone according to plan would be an understatement.

I’ll spare you the boring details, but this time without a place of my own has me thinking and examining my feelings about home. Those feelings have certainly changed over time.

For the first half of my life, a home was somewhere to return to after a day spent in school or at work. That all changed on the day that I set up the card table in my family room and opened my first little business.

At the time, I went to great lengths to conceal the fact that I worked from home. Who would take me seriously if they saw my unimpressive office?

At the time, there were no resources talking about being self-employed and working from home. Of course, I knew writers and some artists turned a spare bedroom into a studio, but I had no idea what other forms of enterprise could thrive in a domestic setting.

The exception to the conventional business start-up information was Supergirls, the book that gave me the notion that I could be self-employed. They had started out working from home, but moved into “real” offices as soon as their business began to grow.

At the time, I assumed I would do the same and set up shop in a rented space where I could have proper meetings and create exciting events. At the time, I had no idea how much I would come to love working from home.

So here I am decades later, a homeless homebased entrepreneur. I assume this is a temporary condition.

I am also keenly aware that the flexibility, mobility and independence this lifestyle offers also makes it possible for me to shift my focus temporarily from running my business to finding my next World Headquarters.

Last week, Judy Heminsley, who blogs at Work From Home Wisdom, from Bath, UK, posted  a wonderful gallery of home worker’s workspaces.  Check them out for yourself.

I admit I got a little envious—and even more eager to be settled—when I saw pictures of the smiling homebased entrepreneurs that Judy shared.

Then two-year-old Zachy runs up, throws his arms around my legs and yells, “Yeah, Grandma!” That’s when it seems perfectly okay to practice benign neglect a little while longer.