Here at Lifehacker, we've often encouraged switching your working environment to spark creativity and prevent burnout. Even taking a few days each month to work in a new place can benefit you greatly. Here, entrepreneur Wesley Verhoeve explains the benefits of his favourite non-office space: the local cafe (or, as Americans such as Wesley would have it, the local coffee shop).
Image remixed from etraveler (Shutterstock)
While team Family Records was in between offices in early 2012, we had six weeks to bridge until our new space was ready. During that time we were fortunate enough to be taken in as guests by awesome companies for stretches of time, and for the remainder we took over corners of coffee shops all over Brooklyn and Manhattan. The experience was so positive that even after we moved into our new home, I made sure to get in a few "coffee shop days" each month. For carpal tunnel-related reasons alone, I would not recommend working out of coffee shops every day, but here are some reasons why it might be great to try it for one or two days every month.
A change of environment stimulates creativity. Even in the most awesome of offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity. Changing your environment, even just for a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.
Fewer distractions. It sounds counter-intuitive, but working from a bustling coffee shop can be less distracting than working from a quiet office. Being surrounded by awesome team and officemates means being interrupted for water cooler chats and work questions. Being interrupted kills productivity. The coffee shop environment combines the benefit of anonymity with the dull buzz of exciting activity. Unlike working at home, with the ever-present black hole of solitude and procrastination, a coffee shop provides the opportunity of human interaction, on your terms.
Community and meeting new people. Meeting new people always provides me with new ideas, a different perspective at existing problems, or an interesting connection to a new person doing something awesome that inspires me. Today alone I met a top Skillshare teacher whose class I will now take, a sleep consultant, a publicist who offered to help with a project, and a wine consultant who recommended some bars.
To make the best out of your 'coffee shop days', keep a few things in mind:
Rotate locations. Rather than going to the same place every time, switch it up, and avoid the stifling feeling of routine you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Buy something. Don't be a cheapskate nursing that one coffee throughout the day. Buy drinks and food throughout the day. Coffee shop workers are awesome, and they'll be awesome to you if you are a good customer.
Placement. Don't sit near the door or the register, if you can avoid it. Temperature differences and high traffic don't help you to focus.
Power up. Come with a full charge. I like to not bring a power cord, unlike most folks, because I get six hours out of my laptop battery, and it forces me to take a break and work with focus because I will run out eventually.
There you have it: a few reasons why I recommend taking a break from the office at least once a month, and some tips on how to get the most out of it.
Wesley Verhoeve is the founder of Family Records and GNTLMN.com. He writes about the intersection of music, tech, and innovation, as well as modern marketing, product strategy, and great customer experiences across different industries.