Maybe it’s the endless supply of caffeine or the quick access to a snack I don’t have to prepare, but my creativity thrives when I work at a coffee shop. I’ve never been the type of person who could write or edit in complete silence. In college, I’d post up at the Starbucks on campus and only ever stepped foot in the library when I needed to check out books. It’s not just the noise component though, here are ten reasons why I love working on writing and editing projects at a coffee shop.
I am there to do one thing—work. I love working from home, and can even get some great work done on the couch or in my bed—but I have limits to my attention span at home. Sometimes the dishwasher calls to me to be unloaded or the dryer signals that it’s time for me to be an adult and hang up my clothes before they get wrinkled. Other times, I think I’m putting on HGTV to have noise on in the background and then find myself sucked into the fifth rerun in a row of Fixer Upper. I know when these moments will strike, and the best thing I can do for myself and my work is to pack up my stuff and get out of the house.
All my necessities travel well. All I really need to get my work done is my laptop, its charger, my phone, a notebook and my planner—oh and my debit card to buy coffee and snacks. Seriously though, it’s so easy to transport my “office” that there’s really nothing to keep me tethered to my house. It takes me less than five minutes to throw all my stuff in my backpack and get out the door, so why wouldn’t I?
Ambient noise. I’m not the type of writer or editor who can sit and work in complete silence. I love having music and conversation floating around me as I work—it provides me with a vibrant energy that fuels my working pace. I’m also really great at hearing noise around me, but tuning it out at the same time. I played volleyball 6th through 12th grade and after every game, my mom would ask, “Did you hear me from the bleachers?” Of course I’d known she was there, but I’d never been able to pick any single voice out of the crowd. When I stepped onto the court, all the cheering and heckling just turned to white noise. I do the same thing to this day when I work.
Fellow workers focused on their hustle. Freelancing can be a lonely job sometimes, and there are days when I just need to be out in a public place, surrounded by complete strangers as we all type feverishly on our computers. There is a mutual respect between us. We nod as if we know each other or smile as we sit down next to each other at a long table or counter. Really, I think it’s our way of acknowledging our mutual respect for the way we show up for our work and ourselves.
Endless supply of coffee and snacks. I wasn’t kidding in the opening; it’s nice to sit at a coffee shop and have a direct connection to coffee and food that I do not have to make for myself. Especially when I’m under a deadline, taking the time to put on a pot of coffee or make something to eat is time I could put toward my work. So, I’ll happily sit anywhere that puts me five steps from caffeine and sustenance.
Great lighting. Coffee shop lighting is something I’ll never be able recreate at home, especially at night. I don’t know what it is about the somewhat dark and moody space, but also bright track-lighting stretched across the ceiling that highlights my workspace just perfectly. It allows me to focus on my work without straining my eyes. I bet you never thought you’d see someone pen a love letter to coffee shop lighting, huh?
Cozy nooks and large tables. Sometimes I need to spread out all my notes next to me, have my laptop in front of me, and that coffee and snack in arm’s reach. I don’t have a table long enough at home to accommodate all of that, so I will post up at one of the long, communal tables at the coffee shop and selfishly take up all the space I need. Also, no one has ever complained about the amount of space I’ve used because they are doing it, too. Other times, I just need an oversized chair to burrow in as I hammer out an editing project. No matter what I need on a particular day, I can find my perfect spot in the coffee shop.
Free Wi-fi. This needs no explanation.
Scheduled time like office hours. I try really hard to protect my work time when I’m at a coffee shop. I know I’m there to focus and if I’m focused I can gauge about how much work I can turn out in a set amount of time. If I’m writing a blog article, I need about two hours from idea conception to a completed first draft. So, I typically set my time to work at a coffee shop for anywhere from three to four hours at a time—and believe me the time flies. As soon as I sit down, I spend the first 30 minute or so working on business tasks: checking and responding to emails, reviewing website engagement, and completing any social media type tasks. After that time is up, I move straight into project work: writing or editing projects that are on a deadline. Since I knocked out the business stuff before deadline tasks, I don't feel the need to open my email or social media again until I’ve hit a certain threshold in project work. I’m a firm believer in time-blocking my work schedule and honestly can’t live without it.
I just like it. I almost ended this list with nine items, but I love a good, round number. Honestly, I just love working at coffee shops. I get the socialization and public vibes I need, but I also get to stay in my introverted world and keep focused on my tasks.
So, tell me, do you consider coffee shops your second office or do you prefer to work at home in peace and quiet?