Practical tips from a long time cafe warrior

I've been working from coffee shops and cafes for more than 15 years and I'd like to share some tips that may make your experience much better. If you have other tips or suggestions, add a comment, and I'll post a follow up entry soon.

Bring the power – I carry two very useful power options. First is the three outlet surge protected expander. It turns one plug into three, and provides a little protection as a side benefit. Is the power outlet you're closest to full? No problem: “Excuse me, do you mind if I plug this in so we can both have power? Thanks!”

Another indispensable tool is the grounded three plug extension cord. It sounds like a bit much, but I can't tell you how valuable it has become. Want to sit outside, but the power outlet isn't in a convenient place? No problem. Want to sit inside, but the only power outlet is right next to the bathroom? No problem.

Hovering – As you become familiar with your cafes, you'll undoubtedly find that some tables are better than others. I use a technique called hovering. Hovering is when you move tables strategically to get a better table. The target may have power, or may be in an advantageous location, who knows, but you need to be there. The tactic is simple: as tables become available closer to the target table, move to them. Then, as soon as the current occupant starts packing up, don't hesitate to ask if you can move in. This strategy is particularly useful in busy work spots where availability is tight.

The “locals” – If you're like me, you go to a coffee shop to avoid interruptions. Sure the place may be noisy but you can ignore all of that and focus like nowhere else. The bottom line is that interruptions (for me) void the whole point of remote working. Try to avoid meeting the other regulars at your favorite shops. That may sound like an introvert's practice, but in this case it is very useful. Imagine what would happen if you met just 5 of the other regulars in the place… you'd spend the first hour catching up on their son's soccer stats. Avoid the locals like the plague.

The staff – You'll want to take the opposite approach to the staff. Pick a couple of favorites, then get to know them well. I try to leave those relationships in the store however, as mixing them with your life outside could lead to interruptions on their breaks. Establishing a good relationship with the staff ensures free refills, extra shots, inside news, and all sorts of other cool stuff.

Buy the internet – If your goal is to have lots of potential – and reliable – locations, make an investment in a paid WIFI option. Sure free WIFI works but in my many years of experience it just isn't as reliable. Pay the $19.95 to AT&T and gain access to 71,000 options. As a bonus, if you have DSL with AT&T, it is only $9.95, and FREE under certain conditions.

Walk away – I've found that I have a tendency to sit in one place for hours at a time. That can't be good for you, so I recommend getting up every two hours or so and taking a break. While this isn't cafe warrior specific, it is more important for us. The chairs aren't built for marathon sitting sessions, and moving around keeps the blood flowing and the thought process sharp.

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michael

Husband, father, epic adventurer, perpetually curious, rule breaker, startup guy, innovator, maker.

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