A guide to working by the pool

Josh Sherman
6 min read

Being a Florida Man in a past life, I absolutely crave the water. Not the beach per se, I can do without the sand.

I’m talking about that sea breeze, the salt in the air, and of course the angry seagulls.

Being landlocked in Texas the past few years has really helped me to realize that you can take the man out of Florida, but you probably can’t take the Florida out of the man.

With that, the closest thing I have in my life to the ocean, is access to a community pool.

Sure we could go to one of our lakes, but while nice and all, isn’t nearly as convenient as being able to drive only a few minutes to get to the pool.

It takes my wife longer to “get ready” than it does for us to get there. Oh and since it’s a community pool, it’s not my responsibility to have to do the general maintenance and upkeep.

Sure, I have to share the pool, but it’s a small price to pay. Not only that, I’ve come up with some ways to make the most of my “work from pool” time.

My typical “pool rig” or “what’s in my [pool] bag” looks like this:

That’s all I need to be crazy productive by the pool. Sometimes I swim, sometimes I don’t. Usually I just get some shit done.

The Bluetooth speaker doesn’t need a ton of explanation, I like to play music by the pool. Hardly anybody else does, so there’s rarely any competition for the sound spectrum.

Phone’s also a no brainer, everybody has their phone on them, always. My phone doubles as my stereo head unit as well as my Internet life-line for the times my provider’s hotspot is on the fritz.

The sub-$200 Chromebook is really my piece de resistance of my pool rig.

Last summer I was still using an 11” Macbook Air that was nearly as end of life for macOS updates. Since I used my iMac (also nearly as end of life) as my daily driver at home, I didn’t mind bringing it to the pool and risking it getting soaked.

Now that I have a killer System76 Galago Pro as my daily driver for work and side hustle, I don’t necessarily want to risk having that by the pool.

Hence, the Chromebook, lovingly referred to as our “Crapbook” or “Craptop”.

This isn’t meant to be a review of my Chromebook, but for real, it’s an absolute piece of shit.

It’s under powered by design and that’s the absolute beauty of it.

Since it’s a terribly underpowered system, with what I consider a trivial price tag, it’s perfect for being by the pool. If it gets wet and breaks, sure I’d be a little saddened by the event, but overall, no big deal.

That said, as I wrote the initial rough draft for this post, I was splashed with water twice, and then crop dusted with sunscreen, some of which got in my eye and caused a lovely sting.

Here’s proof of this alleged “work”:

Photo evidence that I was writing this post by the pool

This is where the “beverage” comes in. Chillin’ by the pool with an icy beverage, hard to get me ragefaced.

So this “Craptop”, am I able to get stuff done with it?

Certainly. But definitely I pick my battles.

I’m not on here trying to build the next social media behemoth, leveraging containers and building code with webpack or anything remotely like that.

I’m living in Chrome, knocking out blog post drafts.

I’d prefer to be running Brave, which is my browser du jour these days, which does run on Chromebooks, but it’s just not nearly as compact, even in full screen mode. It’s a small price to pay to squeeze a few extra pixels out of this tiny ass screen.

Since Neovim is my text editor of choice, I am a bit out of sorts because I’m just brain dumping inside of a Google doc.

The system, albeit slow, is also more than enough to enter my life tracking stats, reply to comments and even post about being at the pool on Indie Hackers.

I have the Linux app installed, and at one point did a proof of concept on getting it to handle my dev environment. It does, but while chillin’ at the pool, just dumping words out of my head is the path of least resistance.

If the aforementioned beverage makes typing too hard, I still have my Kindle to fall back on and catch up on some reading.

Thus far, I’ve talked about the “what” of my pool-side rig, but not the “when”.

I think the “when” is the most important.

During the week, when most people are either in school or work, the pool is pretty much DEAD. Nobody to contend with, no sunscreen in my eyes, nothing.

Even during the summer, the morning shift at the pool is a skeleton crew.

One of the advantages of working from home. During this time, it’s nice and easy to bring my main rig out and hack away on work stuff.

Evenings and weekends, that’s when the lighter weight Chromebook is more than sufficient.

Evenings especially tend to be somewhat heavy at first, then tapers off quite quickly. Even though it’s summer time, parents still don’t want to be out past dark in Texas for whatever reason.

Pretty sure they are just scared of coyotes. Florida Man don’t care, though.

Evenings are especially great because the weather is cooler, even in the summer. The sun goes down over the horizon. Less sun means less sunscreen.

I’m a big fan of avoiding the sun vs. slathering on some potentially harmful agent that our Neanderthal ancestors never required.

So that’s how I work by the pool.

I limit the scope of what I work on based on my current rig and I focus on enjoying the weather and maybe a beverage or two while not sacrificing much in terms of productivity.

Blog drafts eventually make it to Neovim for scrubbing before launch and my kiddo is extra happy that you’re going to the pool quite regularly.

I failed to mention that we go to the pool damn near every single day while it’s open.

You can’t call it a benefit if you don’t use it, right?

I’m always looking for more tips to improve my life, so if you’re an avid “work from pool” type, I’d love to hear about your best hacks and tips, comment below!

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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