How To Stay Productive At A Coffee Shop When All That Caffeine Starts To Backfire

When you pack up to get some work done outside of the house, being productive at a coffee shop is usually the goal. By nature, a cafe brings up thoughts of people bent over notebooks and drumming up business plans, leaning against tables and reading newspapers while sipping at their espresso, or folded into corner booths and reading books while writing notes in the margins. It's a quiet, productive place that encourages efficiency and the motivation to take a solid swing at your to-do list. Or, at least, that's what it is during the best of times.

When packing up your bag to go to one of these coffee shops, you're making the conscious decision to leave the distractions of home and the fridge behind. That, at least, is the intention. But what usually happens is you get distracted by the cake pops, you somehow get sucked into Pinterest and your phone, and before you know it you have a secret travel board and you're group texting over which taco bar to go to that night.

As someone who spends quite a bit of time working in coffee shops, I've learned most of these tips and tricks the hard way — and I've figured out what usually works best for really conquering that to-do list. In order to avoid these typical pitfalls, you need a plan to keep you armed and ready. Below are five tried and true tips to stay productive at a coffee shop — be strong!

1. Go In With A List

Walk into the coffee shop with a game plan already written down. Write a list with three must-do items you need to get done before leaving for the day and three items you would love to finish, but aren't a priority at the moment. I always feel like I'm making headway when I cross something off, and fall into a more productive mood because of that smug rush I get when I feel like I've actually finished something. Whatever your list includes, just try to keep it to around six items — you want to motivate yourself by crossing things off, and seeing too many bullet points left may only intimidate you or leave you anxious.

2. Leave Your Battery Charger At Home

Give yourself a sense of urgency by leaving your computer charger at home. If your laptop only has four hours of life left, you won't meander away too much time scrolling through Pinterest or opening a quick tab to see what Zara's fall collection looks like. Every minute counts, and you'll be more conscious of that fact if you know you have to leave to keep your computer alive.

3. Don't Open Any Social Media Pages

Just don't do it. Don't open any social media while you're at the coffee shop — you already know exactly what it will do to your productivity levels. If you're like me, then you'll get sucked into a conversation about which movie to see that night, end up scrolling through endless pictures of coffee cups and city snaps on Instagram, or just Snapchat photos of your coffee. Been there, done that. Programs like Cold Turkey (which you can install on your computer) will temporarily block social media sites so you can be your most productive self.

4. Bribe Yourself

Sometimes steam runs low, and that's understandable. The important thing to remember is that you don't have to feel inspired to keep working — it helps, but it's definitely not necessary. To keep yourself happy while all you want to do is put your head on the desk and call it a day, treat yourself with another cup of coffee or a sweet snack. Cake pops and triple fudge brownies will always squeeze a couple more hours out of me when it comes to making myself get some more work done.

5. Set Yourself On A Timer

Feel like you're starting to lose focus? Set yourself on a timer: Promise yourself that if you work just 10 more minutes, you can stop and take a break. By the time you hunker down and do it, you'll feel motivated enough to keep going or, at the very least, you've made some good progress. When I use this trick, it keeps the momentum going and makes me stay on track, even if my commitment to the task at hand is waning.

Coffee shops are some of the most wonderful places in the world: free wifi, cappuccinos, and — if you follow this list — productivity. There's no reason why you can't enjoy your coffee and get your work done too, so use some of these tips and get to it!

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