How can I be productive at a coffee shop?

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One thing that a lot of people do these days is work from a coffee shop or cafe. Especially for people who work in knowledge work, it can be a surprising way to get serious creative work done. If you haven’t tried it yet, hopefully, this article will give you some ideas on how to do it well.

Not too long ago, I was trying to finish writing my first book. I wrote in coffee shops for a while because I had a full-time job and a family at home. Every morning, I would get up early and go to a coffee shop to write before going to the office.

Working from coffee shops gave me the space I needed to focus on and finish a big project, and I’d recommend it to just about anyone. Working from coffee shops and cafes can be a great way to get creative, whether you are a remote worker who wants to talk to more people or someone who is working on a side job. If you know how to use it to your advantage.

Why would you want to work from a coffee shop? People want to work from home, so they don’t have to drive to and from work. This is one of the many perks of working from home.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth the trouble to pay for an overpriced cup of coffee and then have to fight for a place to sit and the right to use unreliable free wifi. But it turns out that working from cafes and coffee shops has a couple of big advantages.

Noise in the background helps you think of new ideas.

Research shows that moderate background noise, like what you might hear in a coffee shop, can actually help you think of new ideas. Studies from the University of British Columbia and the University of Virginia suggest that a little bit of background noise may help with abstract thinking.

In fact, the environment of a coffee shop has been shown to be so effective that there is an online app that lets you make the sounds of a busy cafe wherever you are. The name of the app is Coffitivity, and there are both free and paid versions if you want to try it out.

Changing things up

It would be great if we could just focus and do deep work whenever and wherever we want, but even the most creative people often hit a wall. When this happens, a good way to get your creative juices flowing again is to change your work environment. Sometimes all it takes to get out of a rut is a change of scenery.

Tips on How to Choose the Right Cafe

Most of the time, people choose to work in a cafe or coffee shop because they want a change of pace or scenery. You can get more work done because of the energy they give you, but you give up a lot of control over how you set up your workspace.

There are a lot of things that make a cafe a good place to work, and you should think about these before you choose to set up shop:


You should try to find a place close by, the closer, the better. Where you live can change how you think about how close something is. Thanh, who lives in Austin, Texas, counts 30 seconds of walking as close.

You can’t go more than two blocks downtown without coming across a coffee shop. But things are much farther apart. There are still some great coffee shops nearby, but I have to drive at least 10 minutes to get to any of them.

The idea is easy to understand: the less time you spend traveling, the more time you have to do real work.


Make sure you know the shop’s hours before you go, especially if you plan to use it as a side job. Some coffee shops I’ve been to don’t open until after 8am when most people are already at work.

If you’re like me and want to work on a side job before going to work, that won’t do. In the same way, many coffee shops shut down after regular business hours. You don’t want to go out of your way to get work done at a coffee shop or cafe only to find that they close soon after you arrive.

Before you travel, you need to know when things are open. If you need time after work or on the weekends, you may have a lot less to choose from.

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About Maki Hojo

Maki Hojo is a student at the University of Michigan. A foodie since birth, she enjoys cooking, eating, photographing, reading about, and playing with any and all types of food. Her idolization of culinary delights is complemented by her active spirit - she enjoys running, swimming, barre classes, and even spontaneous bursts of interpretative dance if the mood strikes her.