Working in a Coffee Shop: Productive?

I have had many clients report to me that they seem to be more productive when they “escape” and start working in a coffee shop.

Here are some reasons why working in a coffee shop can boost your productivity:

  1. Less Interruptions from coworkers – If your coworkers and subordinates can’t find you, they can’t interrupt you.
  2. Less interruptions from work phone – Taking an hour or two away from the office phone removes this distraction and helps you focus.
  3. Different perspective – In the office environment, we are used to thinking a certain way and we fall into patterns based on what is happening in the office. At a coffee shop, we can be free to break the patterns and think outside the box.
  4. Ability to focus on one thing – If you try working in a coffee shop, pick one thing to focus on for each visit. This will give you a deeper level of focus than you can usually attain in your office.
  5. Clean table – A coffee shop offers you a clean table to work on instead of your cluttered desk that may have other papers and tasks to take your focus away.
  6. Caffeine – Caffeine provides a short term pick-me-up for many people. The funny thing is I drink decaf coffee but my body is so used to the jolt from caffeine that just the taste of coffee has a pick-me-up placebo effect.
  7. Background noise – Some people find it easier to focus with a bit of background noise. You can even access coffee shop background noise audio files to play in your office if you find this works for you.
  8. Break for home office workers – When you work from home, it is good to get out now and then and work somewhere else. It makes you feel more connected to the world and can give you another perspective

Best Work For Working in a Coffee Shop #

For me, I like to choose work that I sometimes have trouble focusing on in the office. One of my biggest ones is writing. I KNOW writing great blog articles is important for my success. I doubled one of my client’s web traffic using web articles so I know they work. But somehow, my own writing always seems to come last. So writing my blog articles is one of my favourite things to do while working in a coffee shop.

Here are a few other things I work on in coffee shops:

  • Planning
  • Workshop outlines
  • Marketing calendar ideas

Yes, you can see the trend. They are all other aspects of writing but also involve planning. So I would suggest planning would be the second thing that is great to do in coffee shops. We often don’t take enough time for deep focus planning in our work so dedicated time in a coffee shop is a great time to work on that.

Issues While Working in A Coffee Shop #

Coffee shop work isn’t perfect. There are some issues to be aware of. Here are a few along with some solutions

  1. Bathroom breaks – You don’t want to leave an expensive laptop with all your data on it at your table while you go to the bathroom. Once trick I use is to go to the washroom first while the laptop is still in my bag. Another tip is to take the laptop with you when you go. Awkward but better than losing it.
  2. Loud people at the next table – It can be difficult to focus when the people at the table next to you are loud. Try to find a quiet spot in the coffee shop. I deliberately pick coffee shops where tables are further apart with quieter seating. You can also use headphones and listen to some background meditation music to block out conversations around you.
  3. Ordering & seating- It is important to be respectful of the coffee shop, its employees and its patrons. Even if a coffee shop is largely empty, ordering the least expensive coffee on the menu and sitting there for 6 hours working is not respectful. You want to order additional drinks and food to help the coffee shop and staff. I also watch to see how full the coffee shop is. If it is filling up near the lunch hour and I have already worked a couple of hours and had only a coffee, I will likely move on to give the space over to the lunch crowd. And do leave a tip! Otherwise they might start telling you to move on.

Tips for Working in a Coffee Shop #

Here are a few additional tips and things to bring when working in a coffee shop.

  1. Headphones – Headphones are useful because you can listen to podcasts or block out conversations if the table next to you is too loud.
  2. Charging cord – Don’t forget your charging cord in case you need to recharge. Do recharge your mobile devices fully before you go in case you don’t have access to a power outlet.
  3. Backup batteries – Plugins aren’t always available. So ensure your laptop or tablet is fully charged and that you have fully charged backup batteries or power bank. (check to see if your laptop or tablet can be charged with a power bank)
  4. Be prepared for offline – While most coffee shops have WiFi, there are occasionally problems or conductivity issues. To make sure your time isn’t wasted, have a backup of the files you need on your mobile device and have some work you would do while offline available. For my blog post writing, it really doesn’t matter if I am on or offline so that is a good backup project to bring.

Alternatives to Working in a Coffee Shop #

Find coffee shops too busy and loud? Here are some alternatives:

  1. Library – The library is a great, free alternative to coffee shops. They have WiFi access and are usually quieter with no loud espresso machine making noise. Libraries also have books that can help you research a topic you are working on as well as professional librarians to help.
  2. Hotel – I know successful people who sometimes check into a hotel for a day or two of uninterrupted time. I have seen this used for planning, writing or even just catching up on work load. Most hotels have WiFi and coffee machines. Some even have kitchenettes if you want to save money by making your own meals.
  3. Coworking Space – You can also book some coworking space if you need a change of scenery from your existing office. This can be useful for home office workers who feel isolated at home and some home office people report that coworking spaces make them feel more professional and productive. There is also a chance to meet and network with others. This is a benefit, but can cut into your deep focus time.

Please share this article with others if you found it useful.

– Garland Coulson “Captain Time”

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