In another post, I shared that my attitude toward working at coffee shops had changed. But I don’t want to throw the idea completely under the bus. There are good things about working away from your normal office, such as
- A fresh perspective.
- The energy of people.
- A stimulating environment.
But coffee shop work can be distracting, too, so if you work at a coffee shop regularly, here are some tips to help the time be more productive.
- Plan ahead. Block off times in your week for working out of your normal office. Pick a specific task or two you will be focusing on during that block of time, and perhaps even add notes to your calendar appointment to remind you of those tasks.
- Pick appropriate tasks. Decide ahead of time what kinds of tasks best match the coffee shop atmosphere. Do you do design work well? Does writing come more easily? Are there tedious tasks that are best? For example, I find that adding or preparing material (i.e. social media images) to client social media libraries works well as a coffee shop task, while appointment setting and email communication may not.
- Expect to be distracted. Whether by conversations around you or just the normal hustle/bustle of a popular coffee shop, you are not going to have the quiet you might get at a library or your home office. This may be fine, depending on the type of work you are doing. Just don’t walk in there expecting everything to be quiet and perfect for your work.
- Create your atmosphere. My coffee shop bag includes ear phones, an inspiring pouch, a coaster, a fake candle, and a large scarf that can act as a shawl or lap blanket. These don’t take much space but help me create a mini oasis of inspiration for the time I will be there, which often is two hours or more.
- Allow yourself time to ease in. Hopefully you are planning to purchase something to eat or drink (don’t be a coffee shop squatter.) It gets a little cumbersome to type, sip coffee, eat a bagel, etc all at once. So allow yourself time to enjoy your snack while you do something such as reading to ease into work mode.
- Jot a schedule or use a timer to keep yourself on track. It’s easy to fritter away time scanning social media, watching videos, or even reading helpful material. Use a timer app to keeping you on track, working in segments on writing, researching, or interacting.
- Enjoy the unexpected. You may run into a friend or business colleague at a coffee shop, or strike up a conversation with a stranger. Maybe you’ll notice someone who needs a little encouragement or decide to discreetly pay for the meal of the next person in line. Don’t miss out on the little serendipitous opportunities that may spring up. Productivity is great–but people are important.
Here’s to a productive “coffee shop” work session (and good coffee!)