As a freelancer, I used to love going to coffee shops and working there. At first, it seems convenient because there are so many like-minded people doing independent jobs. Little did I know that when I went to the coffee shop, I was actually harming my productivity.
If you Google freelancers and access the photos, it won’t take long to find a ready-made photo of a generation of millennials sitting in a coffee shop with a laptop, working on a photo. job number. This stereotypical image is what most people perceive freelancers as. While that’s fine for the number of “local cafes that support local artists,” it’s actually pretty bad for the people inside. The cafe was originally designed to be a social space where you meet people, take a break, and enjoy socializing, not the other way around. Coffee shops are great places to socialize, but not great places to get productive work done. Even then, most of the time, a meeting is not necessary. I believe it was Tim Ferris in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek” who said to cut down on all non-essential meetings. In this article, I have collected some reasons why you should leave the coffee shop as soon as possible.
If you’ve read my previous articles, you probably know that I’m not a fan of unnecessary spending. The marking of coffee varies from place to place, but one thing is true: it is usually huge. The same cup of cappuccino can cost you less and will probably taste better, too. Let us do some math. Every day you go to a coffee shop, you will probably drink 1-2 cups of coffee, for 3-4 dollars a cup, and eat a sandwich, for another 3-4 dollars. Overall, you can easily consider spending $6-12 a day. While it may not seem like a significant amount, these add up and in a typical 5 day week you would spend $60 just on coffee shops, in a month this amount going up to $240. Regardless of how much you earn as a freelancer, spending such a large amount on coffee should sound the alarm. Even if the price per cup is relatively low, depending on your city, a simple espresso can go up to $5 or more. Just taking into account your coffee spending, you can save up to $2,880 a year and spend that money improving your photography.
Coffee shops are notoriously hard to work with if you don’t have good noise-canceling headphones with pretty loud music. I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely difficult to concentrate in noisy environments. Just being able to remove background noise has had a hugely positive effect on my productivity. That said, you’ll still be distracted by everything around you, from noisy kids to loud music in a coffee shop to the sound of a coffee grinder. Oh, and make sure there’s a way to keep your eyes from being distracted and no one bumping into your chair or spilling their drink on you. After such a “work” day, you may end up doing less work and feeling dissatisfied with your progress.
In the age of the zoom, it’s not uncommon to see people taking calls from a coffee shop. Aside from the fact that the meeting was noisy and difficult to conduct, it looked unprofessional. It may sound counter-intuitive, but a person taking a call with a plain white background sitting in a shirt and underwear will look more professional than someone in a suit but taking a call from a coffee shop. It just sends a message that you don’t really care about the other person and that it’s more important for you to sit in your coffee shop than in a private meeting space with your interlocutor. Maybe this depends on the office culture you’re in, but I can’t imagine jumping into a creative call from a place where the entire conversation could be overheard.
A separate section must be reserved for overly social or sensitive strangers. One case that stood out: I was told that I typed too loudly. Sure, a decade of playing the piano can make my fingers press harder than most people. What surprises me is that not anything else is distracting me in this place, everything else except my typing is fine. Not a coffee grinder, not a noisy high school student, not anything else. Another is when people happen to look at what you’re doing and start commenting on it. While it’s great for making friends, it’s counterproductive when it comes to getting actual work done.
Lack of resources
While coffee shops may have good coffee and food, they lack the other things a good office needs. While most freelancers only need a laptop to work, they may still want to plug in, use a desk lamp, have a couple of hard drives, and maybe even a mouse — all All of this on a nice table on a comfortable chair. While completing a few hours in such a setup is nice, it’s not viable in the long run. A good desk layout also boosts productivity, meaning you can make more money per unit of time while also increasing the joy you get from working.
Wi-Fi is another problem in the cafe. Due to the large number of people using it, the majority will not be able to upload and download content. If you’ve ever tried uploading 10-20 images to WeTransfer on Starbucks Wi-Fi and it worked, I’d love to know your secret.
So, unless you’re looking for a cost-effective way of communicating, a coffee shop should be the last place to get the job done. Maybe I’m easily distracted and greedy, but that seems unprofessional and counterproductive to me.
With all this in mind, I sometimes work in a coffee shop when I have to, just like I work on planes, trains, and even on my way to work. There’s no reason not to work in a space with a bare minimum, but I wouldn’t deal with a bare minimum in the long run.