Lessons from a Coffee Shop Wanderer

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 10.56.39 AMI’ve become one of those people. I’m that girl with the headphones, the Macbook and the scattered papers taking up prime real estate at your coffee shop. I’ll totally ask you to switch tables if you’re near an outlet and I need one. You probably think I’m pretentious – sorry about that!

Coffee shop working is pretty acceptable and even common place these days, especially in big cities, but when you live in a destination tourist town and summer is right around the corner? Not so much…

Most of the winter I camped out at my favorite local coffee shop, Empire Tea & Coffee, with no problem. There were plenty of others just like me there. As the nice weather rolled around however, I started seeking out some outdoor spots. I tested out the local Panera which sits across the street from the harbor and has several outdoor tables with umbrellas, a new Empire location which also has outdoor seating, and a downtown joint with no outdoor tables but good people watching never-the-less. This is when my coffee shop wandering started to present a few problems. For one, parking meters downtown switched on for the summer meaning I’d have to trek by foot to the downtown spot, lugging my laptop the whole way. This walk also forced me to walk by fudge shops, throngs of “cruise shippers,” t-shirt shops and vacationers, which can really breakdown your motivation when it seems you’re the only person that actually has a destination and obligation tied to your afternoon stroll. Then there was the sudden crowdedness of my spots. People were actually there to sip coffee absent-mindedly and chat about the weather. How dare they, I’m trying to work!

Maybe I should just hole up in my home office for the summer and leave the coffee shops for the tourists…but what fun would that be? I find it harder to stay focused at home when the sun is shining out my window and if I’m at least out enjoying the ambiance while working, I feel infinitely more motivated.

Since my current work mostly consists of telecommuting from my home base in Newport, RI or posting up somewhere on the Cape, I’ve learned a few tricks for being a New England digital nomad:

1) Tip generously. Duh, I was a hostess/waitress/bartender/shot girl for a good portion of my first quarter century of life, so tipping well has always been my mantra but some people may not realize those baristas need a little love too. If you want them not to hate you as you return day after day for that $2 coffee and a wi-fi password, make sure they see you throw a couple bucks in their cleverly wordsmithed tip jar/bucket/mug.

2) Accept the fact that the majority of people drinking coffee outside on a gorgeous June day in Newport/Cape Cod/anywhere with salty air are probably not concerned with the fact that you’re on deadline. They probably wonder what the heck you’re doing, as they order another scone and debate what they’ll do for the day (beach? shopping? cocktails?) Yeah, their life is rough…

3) Which brings me to point 3. Headphones are key to avoid overhearing the mostly vacation-minded conversations happening all around you. If you let yourself get sucked into people watching *cough* eavesdropping, you will find it extremely hard to continue working and very much want to cut your day short to go sunbathe/sip cocktails/frolic, etc. DO NOT DO THIS – you have bills to pay!

More tips to come, as well as my ever-growing list of favorite coffee shops in little Rhody and beyond.  Happy sipping friends 🙂

 

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