February 15, 2010

5 Tips for Getting Work Done at Starbucks

There was a time when I didn't really share with folk that I can be found working away some afternoons during the week at one of the local Starbuck's coffee shops.  People with jobs in designated locations (read that "offices") didn't take this seriously, it seemed to me.  So I did it.  But I kept quiet about it.

Then I read about George Stephanopoulos writing speeches for Bill Clinton at the Starbucks down the street from his office and I was freed from this Coffee Shop Shame.  (Even now, Stephanopoulos continues his freeing of the masses, by posting on his Facebook page about preparing questions for his TV interviews, yes, at Starbucks.)

Here are 5 things that I've found help in getting things accomplished when you're working at the coffee house:

1.  Get yourself a Netbook with a decent battery life and stop fighting for plugs.  My Eee last 8 hours on a charge, and has a decent keyboard.  My old laptop wouldn't last 2 hours without me finding an electrical outlet somewhere.  And lots of places don't want you to power up, forcing you to pack up and leave, usually right after you really got started.

2.  Get yourself a Starbucks card for your coffee.   Keep it with your computer.  This keeps you in check, coffee money-wise.  It's easier to order that Venti Caramel Mach, and heck why NOT a brownie, when you use your cash or your bank card.  Having a coffee budget tied to its own card keeps you happy with your Grande Coffee of the Day.  Really.

3.  Choose your spot carefully.  You're in a public place, a venue that welcomes chatter.  The moms with the kiddos there for storytime, the college kids studying together -- they may not talk loudly, but their conversation can be distracting if you are right next to them.  Choose a wall.  One of those remote, leave me alone, Greta Garbo tables.  You're WORKING.

4.  Have an agenda.  Before you enter the building, know exactly what you are going to be doing during your time there, and don't make this unreasonably short.  Or long.  You will not edit the Great American Novel in its entirety while at the coffee shop.  You might edit a couple of articles. 

5.  If you're at a Starbuck's that is either within a book store or next door to one, then you're in a tricky spot.  There are great tables within the book store that are fabulous for getting stuff done.  Cozy little corners, surrounded by books.  But don't let yourself get distracted by those books -- you're not there to shop, unless it's a treat after you've met your goal.  And, don't allow yourself to start staring at the spines on those shelves, pondering Great Thoughts, and then fall into the temptation to pick up a tome or two, just to thumb through it.  Before you know it, an hour has passed and you haven't done anything on your work - but you now know so very much about 17th Century furnishings .....

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