We’ve been in Dallas for a couple of weeks. One of the pressing issues I currently face is locating an acceptable coffee shop in which I can do some serious writing. This is one of the most important things to do when moving to a new community, ranking just above finding a safe place to live and enrolling the kids in good schools.
This is one of the few areas in which I have some expertise. For the past fifteen years, I’ve done 95% of my sermon, blog, and book writing in coffee shops. (This post fits into the other 5%. Please forgive if it isn’t up to par.) During this time, I’ve observed what kind of public places are best for getting work done.
Before I share my experiences, I’m going to address a frequently asked question: why do I prefer writing from a coffee shop rather than my office?
With my first job at a tiny church in Bellingham, Washington came the freedom to decorate my office however I liked. It was a blank slate. I got to pick the carpet, the paint, and the furniture. Heather and I jumped into the project with aplomb. We chose colors that would inspire creativity and enhance productivity. We made multiple trips to Home Depot and spent hours wandering around used furniture stores. (We were given unlimited freedom, not an unlimited budget.) We arranged everything just so. It was perfect.
My first week of work I settled into my office. I was the only full time staff member. There was another part-timer who would come and go, but most of the time, for most days of the week, I was there by myself. As I sat there isolated in my feng shui office, with music playing and candles burning, I was overwhelmed with loneliness.
I’m an introvert, so I don’t mind being by myself, but I like being by myself around other people. After a couple of weeks of trying to focus in an office that had been designed with my specific creative needs in mind, I decided to use my office for meetings and admin work. When it came time to write something, I’d go to a more a public place to do work.
Offices are also rife with distractions masked as urgent, but not important, (RIP Stephen Covey) tasks. I could always find something to “work” on at the office. Sometimes it was admin work or correspondence that needed to be addressed at some point, but usually served as an excuse to avoid the more important writing I needed to be doing. I’ve found a special kind of accountability in my trips to the coffee shop. If I’m going to get in my car and drive across town to write, then when I get there, I better get my work done. For me, its easier to waste time in an office than at a coffee house.
When I moved to Tulsa to work with a much larger church, I discovered a new reason to escape the office to get work done. The constant interruptions occurring in a high traffic office make it easy to appear busy while getting very little done. I expect my new office to be no different. While I’ll spend the majority of the day in my church office, it’s going to be essential for me to find a “second office” reserved exclusively for writing.
More than anything, I love working in coffee shops, because that’s where I’m the most creative. I wasn’t surprised by this article on the connection between creativity and crowded coffee shops.
That doesn’t mean I can walk into any ole coffee shop and started waxing eloquent. Some places are more conducive to content production than others. In my next post, I’ll give you a rundown of some of my previous coffee shop work experiences and what I learned from them.
What are your experiences with getting work done in a coffee shop?