Going to Desire for the First Time

 

A few years ago, I spent a week staying at both Desire Riviera Maya Resort and Desire Pearl — two clothing optional couples only all inclusive resorts located just outside Cancun, Mexico. 

The plan was simple: meet up with one of my best friends, Mark, and two other friends (a couple) for some much needed R&R under the sun. Bathing suits optional.

I was there as a journalist to write about the properties, but over the course of the week I ended up falling in love with the clothing optional resort experience. 

 

 

Truth be told, inaugural visit to the Desire resorts wasn’t my first “nakation.” Before Covid, I spent 10 months traveling from Mexico to Jamaica and back again, visiting clothing optional resorts — including Desire’s sister property Temptation Cancun — to write about them for my weekly Toronto Sun column. 

People always have questions about what it’s like to visit clothing optional adult resorts and go skinny dipping in the tropics. If you’re reading this, you probably do too! 

So, let’s start with the most frequently asked questions about going to Desire for the first time. 

Are people naked all the time? 

Desire resorts are clothing-optional. This means that you have the option of being naked in most areas of the resort. However, if you’re worried you’ll see errant appendages pressed against the sneeze-guard at the morning omelette station, fear not. Clothing is required in the main dining areas for obvious reasons. 

Should I go to Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl? 

This is probably the most common question I get. My answer: it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. 

Before I arrived, I was told that Desire Riviera Maya has a more lively party atmosphere, whereas Desire Pearl is quieter and more retreat-like. This generally held true. 

The daily schedule at Desire Riviera Maya

The daily schedule at Desire Riviera Maya. See: Human Dessert

If you’re looking to make new friends (or playmates), Desire Riviera Maya is where it’s at. Designed to feel like a village, the property consists of a cluster of low rises that face tropical gardens and the Caribbean sea. Dreamy daybeds with flowing white curtains flank the beach and pool areas, where you can lounge nude. The rooms are on the smaller side, but we found we spent most of our time poolside (during the day) or enjoying the restaurants & bars (in the evening) anyways, so it wasn’t an issue. 

desire riviera maya pearl resort

Through the palms at Desire Pearl

In comparison, the atmosphere at Pearl is noticeably more mellow and has a quiet, romantic feel. While you can definitely still meet people at Desire Pearl, the resort is larger and more spread out, which means it’s easier to keep to yourself. While Pearl has a nightclub and jacuzzi lounge, it seemed much less busy than at Maya. The vibe was that of a secluded, couples-only romantic retreat (sans clothes). 

I like to break it down like this: 

Desire Maya: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a lively party scene and lots of opportunities to socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only. 

Desire Pearl: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a more relaxed, serene, retreat-like vibe but still with opportunities to meet people/socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only. 

Temptation: Sexy, fun, raucous party vibe with lots of opportunities to socialize. Topless optional. Couples and singles. 

Can I suntan nude on the beach? 

Yes! The beach area directly in front of the Desire properties is perfect for nude sunbathing. However, if you decide to move further down the beach — for example, to the public areas — you’ll need to put on a bathing suit or clothing of some kind. 

the dock at desire riviera maya resort

A scene from the dock at desire riviera maya

Will I feel self-conscious? 

Not going to lie, if you’ve never been to a nude resort, stripping down feels weird at first. However, that feeling quickly goes away when you look around you and see bodies of every shape and size. It almost feels more weird to have clothes on!

Here’s something most people don’t realize about clothing optional resorts: they’re incredibly body positive. You will literally see every kind of body possible. 

And when in doubt, a few margaritas help!

Is it okay to wear a bathing suit if I feel more comfortable in one? 

Definitely. As I mentioned above, it’s clothing optional. This may surprise you, but I can be a bit shy when it comes to showing off my body! The first time I visited Desire, I started off wearing a bathing suit and then slowly shed the layers as I became more comfortable. While the majority of the guests are (at the very least) topless, the crowd is extremely non-judgemental, so no one will fault you for wanting to ease into the experience by wearing a bathing suit. 

lunch outfit at Desire Pearl

Heading out to lunch at Desire Pearl

Are Desire Resorts just for swingers? 

Both Maya and Pearl are “swinger friendly” and you’ll meet a lot of people who are in the lifestyle. However, you’ll also meet couples who are there to try something new and like the idea of potentially playing with other couples (or being in an environment where spicy fun is happening in the midst). There’s also folks who go to the resort for the simple reason that they like lounging around in the sun naked. There’s no “one” kind of guest!

What if I just want to relax and not get hit on? 

While the guests at Desire tend to be very friendly (there’s something about shedding clothing that just makes conversation flow!), the resorts are governed by a very strict, consent driven “no means no” code of conduct that everyone is asked to sign at check in. Anyone who violates it is removed from the resort. 

This is a huge part of why I love going to resorts like Desire and Temptation — it’s very much an “ask before you touch” kind of scene. We made tons of new friends around the resort and never once felt pressured to do anything. 

So, if you’re not looking to play with other couples, you can rest assured that you and your significant other will be left alone to enjoy your vacation together. However, if you’re looking to fulfill a fantasy with another couple, you have a very good chance of meeting like-minded people at Desire. Even if you’re only there for a few nights, connections tend to form quickly in an open and uninhibited environment like Desire. 

Is there places to relax, tan and read without music blasting? 

Definitely! Both Desire Maya and Desire Pearl have quieter areas. While the pool area at Desire Maya tends to be very lively during the day, the beach is very chill and relaxing. You can also relax on your balcony or in other pockets around the resort. 

As I mentioned above, Desire Pearl is a larger property and it was much quieter when I visited, so if you’re looking for a very laid back experience you might want to consider Pearl — even for a night or two. 

The chill pool scene at Desire Pearl

The chill pool scene at Desire Pearl

Can I go to Desire Resorts if I’m single? 

Both Desire resorts are for adventurous heterosexual couples only. If you’re single and looking for a sexy vacation, you might want to consider Temptation, Cancun which is a topless optional resort

Is it just going to be a bunch of twenty year olds? 

Nope! This is a more mature crowd, with the average guest age being around 35-45. I met plenty of attractive couples in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. However, you’ll also meet folks in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond! If you’re looking for a slightly younger crowd, Temptation, Cancun might be more what you’re looking for. 

Will I see people having sex in public? 

Yes. While public sex is only (officially) allowed in the jacuzzi lounge, there’s a good chance you’ll see couples boning in public — like in the SIN room or on their balconies, terraces etc. 

(FYI, I spent a very memorable afternoon in the pool stealing glances in between sips of Pina Colada of a very hot couple who were having sex on their nearby patio for all to see). 

What’s the food like? 

Whether you’re staying at Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl, the food is what you’d expect from an upscale all inclusive resort. Both properties have a combination of buffet, casual dining and sit-down restaurants.

food at desire riviera maya

I have great memories of my dinner at Sahlo (the Aphrodisiac restaurant at Desire Maya) and the steak fajitas at Aphrodite (Desire Pearl’s casual dining restaurant — my go-to lunch spot!) And don’t forget the endless poolside nachos and guacamole! I know it seems weird to talk about the food at a clothing optional resort, but it’s really good!

Let Desire take you wherever it takes you! 

Whether you are a newbie or experienced nude traveller, Desire resorts gives you the flexibility to make the experience whatever you want it to be. If you want to get frisky and explore your sexuality in a safe environment, you can. However, if all you want to do is lounge around the pool and stuff your face with endless guacamole while wearing minimal clothing, you can do that too. 

While I never would have pegged myself for someone who enjoys a clothing optional vacation, the fact that I can go somewhere and be myself without judgement or the risk of unwanted sexual harassment, is a huge selling point for me.

Even Joe the Intern had a good time in the buff! 

And if you’re not sure whether you’re ready for a full-on clothing optional vacation, there’s always Temptation — Desire’s sister property that’s perfect for dipping your toes (or other body parts) into the world of nude travel. 

If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out [skinnydipblog AT gmail.com]. I’d be happy to answer them!

My Dreamy Weekend at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. This was my first weekend away from home since the start of the pandemic and while the hotel is only located approximately 50 miles from my home base of Victoria, BC, stepping into the airy lobby hotel felt like I was being whisked away to another universe. 

Located amidst the glass skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver on the edge of the False Creek waterway, this dreamy hotel has a resort-like setting reminiscent of a luxe Vegas hotel but with a distinctly chill and understated vibe that Vancouver’s known for. If you stay at the JW Marriott Parq you technically don’t need to leave the property to have a super fun and relaxing weekend. On property you’ll find a host of amazing restaurants & bars, a spa, a rooftop aqua lounge that offers stunning views of the city and of course, a 72,000 square-foot world class casino (unfortunately, the casino is currently closed because of the pandemic.)

 

 

I also love that the hotel is conveniently located. If you want to leave (which I did), you’re only steps away from the seawall or the hustle & bustle of Gastown, Yaletown and Chinatown. This made it super easy to visit some of my favorite places in Vancouver while staying at the Parq. 

As someone who suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder — a condition that’s definitely been amplified by the pandemic — I feel like I’m constantly playing “germ math” (this fork is clean, but how clean is the table it’s sitting on? Will it kill me? What about this door knob. Will it kill me?) I was nervous about travelling from Victoria, BC (where we have relatively few COVID cases) to Vancouver, BC (where COVID cases are higher). But the JW Marriott Parq ended up being the perfect destination to dip my anxiety ridden toes back into travel. 

Before I arrived, the hotel team assured me that they follow stringent guidelines set up by the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, a group of experts dedicated to ensuring the comfort and safety of guests. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, they’ve reduced touch-points, increased cleaning practices, and created touchless experiences to ensure the utmost safety of their guests.

I was naturally a little skeptical, but the hotel really went out of its way to make a germ-phobic traveller like me feel safe and looked after. Masks were worn in all public areas, hand sanitizer was readily available (I noticed the staff using it before and after they touched your bags and/or cards) and there were wipes set up everywhere so you could wipe surfaces like elevator buttons and doorknobs before you used them. 

I stayed in one of the One Bedroom Suites. Not only was my room super luxe (the beds were so incredibly comfy) but the staff also made sure to include a note card outlining all of the high touch areas that had been disinfected before my arrival along with a complimentary package of anti-bacterial wipes (I gave everything a once over even though I probably didn’t need to because, anxiety!) 

Knowing that I was safe, I was able to enjoy some of the amenities the hotel has to offer. 

I took advantage of the Spa by JW which features 10,000 square feet of space dedicated to healing, restoration and rejuvenation, and treated myself to a relaxing aromatherapy massage followed by some quiet time in the relaxation lounge which overlooks False Creek. 

I also enjoyed an early morning soak and took in the views at the Parq’s rooftop aqua lounge. 

Last but not least, I ate a few meals at Honey Salt. The eatery offers upscale locally sourced eats in a super cute setting. My favorite: the Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes (pumpkin spice, almond butter, oat crumble, pumpkin seeds). I rarely see gluten free pancakes on brunch menus (even though I make them at home all the time), so these were a real treat. 

 

 

 

 

Did I still feel anxious about the pandemic and germs during my stay? Definitely. But that has more to do with my brain chemistry than the hotel. 

From the bounty of wipes and hand sanitizer readily available near every high-touch surface to the conscientious staff that made every effort possible to make me feel as safe and comfortable as possible during my stay, it’s clear that the JW Marriott Parq takes the health of their guests seriously.

 

Review of the Lily Allen Liberty Vibrator by Womanizer

Last month, I had the pleasure of interviewing pop star Lily Allen about her recent collaboration with luxe sex toy brand Womanizer for The Toronto Sun

The result of this partnership is the Womanizer Liberty by Lily Allen – a small, lightweight edition of the classic Womanizer sex toy which uses patented and revolutionary Pleasure Air Technology designed to stimulate the sensitive nerve endings of the clitoris with gentle air waves.

Since the folks at Womanizer sent me my own Liberty by Lily Allen to try, I thought it was only fair that I test the wares and report back. 

It goes without saying that there’s no shortage of options when it comes to the sheer variety of sex toys that are currently available for purchase.

So, when I receive a press release announcing another celebrity sex toy collab I’m naturally a little skeptical (perhaps because I’m still emotionally scared by the Coco & Ice T vibrator and the Nick Hawk Gigolo Dildo). However, I’m excited to share that the Liberty by Lily Allen did not disappoint. 

The Liberty takes everything I love about Womanizer toys and wraps it up in a fun, accessible packaging. The Liberty model comes with a magnetic cap and six intensity levels, simple two-button operation and is feather-light, perfect for travel and discreet in handbags. Oh and those air waves. You simply have to place the toy above your clitoris and the Liberty will literally blow & suck you away to a quick, intense orgasm. 

Made of body safe materials and fully rechargeable, the Liberty is also water resistant. 

While the Liberty doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some of their Womanizer Premium (which I also own and is fantastic), but in this case I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I love the Liberty because it’s so compact and unlike some of the other models, fits easily in your palm in a way that feels very ergonomic.

It also has incredibly simple and intuitive control buttons that are easy to find and use without having to stop what you’re doing & fumble around. 

 

For these reasons, Liberty is a great entree into the Womanizer line and air pleasure toys in general. 

The only thing I don’t love about the Liberty is the charging situation. As you can see from the diagram below the charging cord attaches magnetically to a port along the curved edge of the toy. You have to lay the toy *just so* in order to ensure the port connects and stays connected, which isn’t always possible when you’re the kind of person who likes to discretely hide their toys away while they’re charging.

I really wish WOW Tech (the parent company of Womanizer) would stop making toys like this. The toys are awesome, but the charging ports are way too finicky for my liking. With that being said, I still really like this toy because of it’s very travel friendly (the magnetic cap is something I didn’t even realize I needed in my life) and easy to use. 

Have you tried the Liberty? What did you think? 

The Womanizer Liberty is available at Lovehoney and retails for $99.99 USD. If you purchase any products through the affiliate links in this post, I may receive a small commission which I will use to buy Joe the Intern more shorts. 

 

 

How to Become a Freelance Writer

I’m excited to write this post today because it’s long overdue. I regularly get emails from people who are looking for advice on how to break into freelance writing. While I’m happy to help other writers, I’m sometimes hesitant to give advice for two reasons. 

1. I started writing for magazines and websites in 2010. 

A lot has changed. My freelance career is the direct result of the blogging boom of the mid-to-late aughts. I also lived in Toronto, a major media centre and was able to do a lot of in-person networking. So, I fully recognize that my experiences aren’t necessarily relevant to 2020. 

2. A decade in, I’m still trying to figure this shit out.

I’m not an expert in pitching magazines. Instead, I’ve managed to get most of my writing jobs through people I know either directly or indirectly. If you’re looking for a magic recipe to get into The New Yorker or guarantee a cover story with the Atlantic, I’m not your girl (I’m pretty sure this isn’t a thing but if you manage to crack the code let me know). 

The short and super transparent story of how I started freelance writing for magazines and websites. 

I started this blog in 2009 as a portfolio with the end goal of writing for magazines (it happened!) and eventually penning a memoir (still working on it!). I wrote voraciously and within a year, I’d developed a readership. In 2010, I connected with a friend of a friend who was the beauty editor of Elle Canada. I wanted to learn more about writing for magazines. Familiar with my blog, she offered me my first gig writing for 29Secrets. This led to me writing pieces for Elle Canada. I also had a friend who worked as an editor at Slice and Food Network Canada, who assigned me some writing work. I did all this while still working at my former day job. 

In 2013, another acquaintance that I’d met at Toronto media events recommended me as a relationship expert for a video event with the Toronto Sun. I loved the experience and clicked with the editor. She didn’t have any writing work for me at the time, but a couple months later she reached out and offered me the Toronto Sun Sex Files column, which I’ve been writing ever since. Writing for the Sun has allowed me to build up a body of work which I’ve been able to leverage into other opportunities. 

I make it sound easy, but it wasn’t. There were a lot of late nights and bleary eyed mornings at my day job, alongside the usual blood, sweat and tears that come with side-hustling your way into a career. With that said, I also networked my ass off and was very, very lucky that I already knew a few people in the media. 

[I also think it’s important to acknowledge my privilege here. I’m a white, straight passing woman. Because of this, I was able to access certain media spaces with relative ease. I know this isn’t the case for everyone.] 

I can only share what I know based on my own experiences, which in some ways are atypical.

So without further ado, here are a few things that will may help you launch a freelance writing career. 

1. Start writing the stories and creating the content you want to see. 

One of the smartest things I did when I first started out was use my blog to showcase my skills as a writer. While blogs don’t have the same cachet that they did back in the late aughts, you can still use your online presence to create a portfolio and show the world what you’re capable of. 

Create a personal website or blog and regularly post things you’ve written. Publish on Medium. Don’t wait for permission. Whether you want to write about the local food scene, beauty products or your personal obsession with iguanas — just start writing and creating content about the stuff that interests you. This is a great way to sell a potential client or editor on your writing chops even if you don’t have any bylines yet. 

A great example of this is one of my favourite writers, Kate Kaput of Greatest Escapist. She has channeled her love of Cleveland, Ohio into an engaging & ultra long-running blog, personal essays and articles for local and national outlets. 

2. Take a pitching class. 

Not sure how to pitch publications? Looking to improve your pitching skills? I feel you. One thing that really helped was taking a version of Pitch Like a Honey Badger with Julie Schwietert Collazo. Not only did I learn the ins and outs of pitching, but it gave me a much needed confidence boost (the cost of the course paid for itself once I landed my first assignment). It also provided really great insight into the industry and how editors actually work. 

If you have budgetary restrictions, there’s a lot of free info online like this piece on freelance writing pitches that worked

There’s also a handful of writers online that regularly share pitching and freelance advice on Instagram. I love to follow travel writer and beauty editor, Kristin Corpuz for this reason. She’s another creative that’s used her platform in a really lovely way to showcase her skills as a writer and content creator. If you sign up for her newsletter, she sends you a quick guide to pitching. 

3. Use the resources available to you. 

While going to in-person networking events isn’t realistic during a pandemic, there are still many ways you can connect with fellow writers and editors online. Start by follow writers and editors you like on Twitter to get an idea of the kinds of stories people are looking for. They’ll often share bylines and calls for pitches. 

There are also a host of Freelance Writer Binder groups on Facebook. I don’t know what their current joining criteria is but Binders Full of Global Freelance Writers is the one I frequent the most. It’s where you can connect with other writers, ask for advice about stories and see editor’s calls for pitches. 

4. Ask yourself why you want to write.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you have a desire to tell your stories in a big way and get paid for it — and that’s totally valid. Just be aware that if you’re looking to make money quickly, freelance writing isn’t necessarily where it’s at. Yes, you can make money doing editorial work but outlets typically don’t pay as soon as you turn in your assignment. While there are exceptions, on average don’t expect to receive payment for an article for at least 4-6 weeks. Which brings me to my next point..

5. Don’t limit yourself to publications and editorial work. 

Only ⅓ of my income comes from editorial work (writing articles for other media outlets). The majority of my monthly revenue comes from “behind the scenes” writing (copyediting, ghost-blogging, copywriting, curating and managing social media feeds) for a small roster of regular clients. While it’s less glory than a bunch of splashy bylines, doing this kind of work ensures that my bills get paid on time. The editorial work I do get is a fun bonus. This is true for most of the successful freelancers I know. 

If you’re looking to make money writing I’d suggest looking beyond magazine writing. Can you help a local business or brand revamp their blog or social media? Do you have a friend that needs editing help? Are there other ways you can get paid to write? Reach out to your contacts and put yourself out there! This is where having an online platform that showcases your skills really comes into play. 

6. Don’t be gross about “networking.”

It’s alarming how many times I’ve had aspiring writers reach out to me and straight up ask for my rolodex of editor contacts and clients. Do not do this. This isn’t how you network. Freelance writing is a precarious, unpredictable line of work that’s all about relationships. Most writers have spent years cultivating relationships with editors. No one wants to hand over their contacts and potentially jeopardize these relationships and their paycheque. So, don’t do this. Ever. It’s gross. 

Instead, do the work. Start writing. Set up your portfolio. Ask writers and editors thoughtful questions and be mindful of their time. If someone declines your offer to “pick their brain” don’t take it personally. As freelancers and/or editors they’re probably (like me) juggling a bunch of different projects and deadlines that are all time sensitive, while also trying to maintain a semblance of a personal life

(With that being said, if you’re friendly & respectful I will always try and help in whatever capacity I can — even if I can’t meet up in person or virtually.) 

Is there anything I missed? What else are you curious about? 

Drop a comment or feel free to send me a private message on Twitter, Instagram or via email. I’d love to hear from you. 

Two Months Ago I Started Co-working with Strangers on the Internet & it’s Changed Everything

It’s the start of pandemic in North America (March, April, May? Who the heck knows because the days seem to be blurring together). I’m sitting at my computer in my bedroom office trying to coax myself into writing something — anything — that isn’t for one of my regular clients. 

With upcoming work travel plans on hold indefinitely and more time on my hands, I tell myself that should  be able to finally buckle down and finish the book I’ve been writing (on and off) for the past few years. But every time I sit down to do the hard thing, my brain feels too foggy. 

I’m temporarily soothed by articles and inspirational Instagram posts that remind me that it’s normal to have problems focusing during a pandemic (we’re all just trying to stay alive!) And yet, I can’t escape the feeling that I’m a loser and a failure.

(Did I mention I can be a jerk to myself sometimes?)

I mean, people are out there creating albums and launching super cool side projects right now. I’m not making the most of my time! I should be creating! I don’t have the excuse of not having time! What the fuck is wrong with me?

Sound familiar? 

(In other words, if you consistently find yourself sitting down to do work only to be distracted by similar thoughts paired with doom scrolling, a Pinterest addiction and places like JackpotCity online casino, then this post is for you)

When people ask me what I miss most about my pre-Covid life, my answer usually surprises them (hint: it’s not travelling — I’m tired and my body is a mess — more on that later). Instead, I yearn for the long writing sessions that I used to regularly enjoy at a handful of local coffee shops. 

As a self-employed person for 10+ years, I like to think I’m pretty good at getting stuff done while working from home. With that being said, when it comes to the big, important stuff — things that clients aren’t paying me to do — like writing a book or penning emotionally vulnerable blog posts, I’ve always found it easier to do this kind of work outside of my home. 

I was the same way in university. I did nearly all of my homework at the library and when it came time to write papers, I opted to do my work in the computer lab (even though I had a PC at home). When I walked through the doors, I knew that I could (mild human distractions aside) focus and get stuff done. In my post-grad life, the coffee shop filled a similar role, as an almost sacred place for writing. When the pandemic hit, it felt like I’d been kicked out of the flock. 

My local coffee shop scene looks like a weird mash-up of a Portlandia episode and the movie Cocoon. It’s a motley crew of stereotypical hipsters armed with sticker-covered Macbooks and Moleskines, patchouli scented didgeridoo carrying white guys with badly maintained dreadlocks and octogenarians who insist on watching YouTube videos on their iPads at max volume without headphones. It’s noisy and a little smelly, but it’s this exact blend human chaotic energy (cue: a Glass Animals album playing in the background) that has allowed me to zero in and focus long enough to write the first two drafts of my 250+ page book. 

Unable to shake my brain fog and struggling to get anything beyond the bare minimum done, I started locking my phone in my bathroom cabinet for hour long sessions. 

While being without my phone definitely helped me get stuff done without the constant temptation of scrolling through Instagram or falling into an eBay/Etsy black hole in search of the perfect pair of tiny cowboy boots for Joe the Intern, sitting alone at my computer in my quiet bedroom turned office lacked the just-chaotic-enough “backstage at the Muppet Theatre” vibes that my coffee shop consistently delivered. 

I’ve learned that I do best work when I’m in the presence of other people doing work. I also crave accountability. 

Then, through what can only be described as serendipity, I discovered the two words that would change everything: 

Silent Zooms. 

Working from home

Two months ago, I started co-working with strangers on the internet and it’s been life altering. 

The process is as follows: 

Log onto the platform. Schedule a co-working session. Get matched with a partner or a group (depending on the platform). Join the video conference and introduce yourself. Share your goals for what you hope to accomplish during the session. Work silently on Zoom together for 1-3 hours before checking in at the end to see how things went. 

If you’d told me a year ago that I would be paying a service to work quietly with strangers on Zoom, I would have rolled my eyes — but oh my god, that tiny bit of accountability and human contact works wonders for my workflow. 

To be productive, I need other humans close by and I need a place to go — even if it’s virtual. 

If you’re wondering where to find virtual co-working online, I currently use two different virtual co-working platforms that I love equally for different reasons. 

Focusmate is a one-on-one virtual co-working space where you can schedule 50 minute video conference sessions with a virtual coworker. The goal is to hold each other accountable and keep each other company. I use this one for doing all of my task oriented client work — writing articles, scheduling social media, answering emails. It’s been a huge help in focusing on key tasks and limiting distractions. I’ll frequently book multiple sessions in a day — especially if I have a lot to get done. 

Caveday is a group virtual co-working space that’s designed for deep, focused work. Sessions are longer (1-3 hours) and lead by a guide who keeps them upbeat, relaxed and motivational. There’s also a little more interaction and sharing, which is nice. I love using Caveday for creative, personal writing. 

Why pay for two separate memberships, you ask? Well, for me it’s crucial  to create different spaces for different kinds of work. Similar to walking through the library or coffee shop doors, when I log onto Caveday, I automatically associate it with working on book related tasks — and nothing else. 

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist and could easily spend all day tinkering at one piece of writing. Scheduling virtual co-working sessions has allowed me to be more mindful of how I spend my time, so I can work smarter not harder (I’m on a virtual co-working sesh as I write this!) 

It’s also helped calm down the negative self-talk (that I’m an unproductive failure, incapable of writing) because I know if I show up, I’ll at least get something done that I can feel good about. 

Also, I think it’s important to note that whatever you’re feeling — too tender, scattered or angry to focus — is totally legitimate. This isn’t a solve everything cure.

But if you’re looking for ways to add more structure to your days or simply need a push to get over procrastination, I highly recommend giving virtual co-working a try. 

Even Joe the Intern is a fan of our virtual co-working sessions. 

By the way, you might be wondering why I decided to use a photo of me on the beach for a post about productivity during the pandemic

Craving extra accountability, about a month ago I joined a Cave Squad through Caveday. You can read more about it here but basically it’s a supportive accountability group where you can set and track goals. 

In August, our team leader encouraged us to also add some fun goals to our list. One of mine was “walk down to the beach after work and enjoy a canned cocktail.” The photo above is me doing exactly that. I only stayed at the beach for about an hour — just long enough to enjoy a drink and take a photo — but it felt good.

I look at that photo as a reminder that even when the world is going nuts, it’s still possible to carve out time — to do the hard things, but also the stuff that brings you pleasure. If you’re lucky, sometimes the two overlap. 

Has anyone else been struggling with concentration lately? What’s helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 

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