Top Tips: 6 ways to be productive in cafes

Ben Hibbard -
Top Tips: 6 ways to be productive in cafes

Many of our customers use our cafes as a place to study, to work or for meetings. For some, it’s even their office!

One person who uses us a lot as a place to work is Francesco D’Alessio who frequents our Birmingham cafe. So much so, that he’s written us a blog with some tips on how best to be productive when working in cafes…..

There are few places across the globe that don’t have access to the internet. Whether you’re a remote worker or someone who visits cafes before and after work to crack on with… more work or even a weekender looking to continue the grind these tips will hopefully find you well.
NOTE: This is for worker bees, this will only be contextually relevant if you are using these tips to work in a cafe.

1. Find that wall socket…
Your first mission after ordering at the counter is to find the one thing that will be power to your work. Always seek out the seat/chair/table nearest or in closest reach to the wall socket. This golden tip will actually save you time in the near future when your phone decides to roll over and die, the same goes for laptop/iPad.

Worse case scenario:

  • 30 minutes into your workflow, you realise that your laptop is running out and you have commando run over to a socket holding your bag, a hot tea and a cable. This disturbs your flow massively and can knock you off course by up to 15 minutes.

2. Your coffee is an investment…
Cafes can be great place to get some work done but sometimes you need to get the balance between knowing you are in a cafe and that each drink is an investment into your work. For example, you order a tea for a reasonable £2.10. You need to pace yourself with the drink and realise that the 20 minutes/30 minutes it takes you to drink this you will need to make it back with the ROI of work (return on investment). Use the cost of the drink as a benchmark of your hard work and making sure it paid off that amount invested.

Worst case scenario:

  • Buy a coffee for £2… Get 20 minutes of browsing Facebook, Instagram and a little paragraph for your monthly report slides with a finished coffee. Order a new coffee (£2)… 30 minutes later… 2 slides with 4 sentences are complete. End goal for the hour was to complete full 10 slide report. The £4 invested into the coffees and the 1 hour surrounding that had weak outcomes.

3. Flip the iPhone
Another situation you can get yourself into is the two screens issue. Watching a lot of people watching TV these days showcases the epidemic of two screens having to be in your face. For the TV situations its fine, because you are all engrossed by media and relaxing but when you are trying to make the grind work in a cafe it’s a new story. Top tip: Flip the phone, change the ringer to silent. If it is important your laptop will tell you I’m sure. Also mentioning Apple Watch + Android Wear, flick them to priority notifications only to avoid annoyance, this will only allow calls from favorite to buzz your workflow.

Worst case scenario:

  • You get an Instagram notification, end up checking SnapChat and emailing 5 people, then return to the task on the PC to realise 15 minutes has gone from just that act of sudden randomness. Save time and flip the phone.

4. Don’t go with friends
Unless you are in a startup team or need a colleague to be there for you avoid bringing friends. As reference to the first point about the investment of your drink being your benchmark, you want to be the most productive you can be and friends can be a barrier to productivity here. If you go with friends, go with friends to relax. If they aren’t essential avoid bringing them… Although they might be great!

Worst case scenario:

  • You invite a friend… They are doing work too but haven’t read this post and don’t want to work smart. They spend the next 30 minutes explaining the thesis of the Buzzfeed article they want to write and you are mutlitasking and trying to juggle creating a piece of written work that is turning to mush… Avoid bringing your buddies, save it for a social visit.

5. Order light and often…
A top tip is to make sure you don’t pack your tray at the start. There is a little and commonly known technique called the Pomodoro Technique, invented by another Francesco in the 1980’s, he discovered the attention span of the average human is up to 25 minutes each time and from here you build in 5 minutes breaks to reengage your attention. Use this technique when it comes to ordering, use the 5 minutes of time every 25/30 minutes to go and order the next batch of drinks and food to keep you fueled. That mini walk to the counter and communication with the staff will help flick more energy into your workflow.

Worst case scenario:

  • You start by ordering 3 lemon drizzle cakes, 4 teas and a coffee. You balance it all on one tray and camp out. The camping allows you to stay dedicated to the position and your work but limits you to options of moving and speaking to people. A little like you are hibernating. Order one drink or one item of food at a time to help balance your workflow.

6. Get your card stamped
This is something that has become a habit. Make it become a habit for you. If you are going to the same cafe every single day, you need to be aware that they stamp your card when ordering hot drinks… This can be a golden ticket over time to getting free drinks!

Worst case scenario:

  • You miss out on 23 stamps over you 11 visits and you are unable to claim the 2 coffees that would make your workflow that extra special.

This is my first Guest Post for Boston Tea Party, I’m based regularly in the Birmingham cafe so come and say hello if you read this post. If not, feel free to follow me on Twitter and let’s get into some productivity/time management/best practice conversations there.

If you want to write us a blog, please feel free to get in touch.