To Cafe, or Not To Cafe? That is the Question

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One of the perks of freelance life is that you can pick up your things and move out to another location, like a cafe, on a whim. A change of venue can sometimes be just the thing to get your creative juices flowing and help focus on work when the doldrums of home begin to overwhelm.

But I have found that going to a cafe can sometimes have the opposite effect. There have been times when I thought that going out would help, but upon sitting down at a coffee shop of my choice realized that I was no better able to work at the cafe than I was at home, and I just spent $3 on an espresso long to boot.

There are a few things you can ask yourself to determine if going to a cafe will help or hinder your progress. Here’s what to consider.

Are you getting the itch?

Are you really at the point where you feel like you have to get out of the house for a bit or you will physically explode? If you are just too restless to focus on anything and are endlessly checking Facebook updates, idly scrolling through your news feed, it might be a good idea to pack your bag and head out somewhere, even for a little while, to clear your head.

Does the cafe offer the right atmosphere?

Not just any cafe is good for working. I have found that some are more suited to socializing while others seem to be more suited to working. Comfortable seating, steady tables, low noise levels, and ample lighting are all important factors in determining if one particular cafe is a good temporary workplace. Ambient music can also help as long as it’s just loud enough to be in the background but not so loud as to become a distraction.

Can you afford it?

While coffee is cheap, going to cafes every day will add up very fast. Add in snacks like croissants, cookies, cakes, muffins, and scones, you can easily end up spending $5-7 in one sitting. Do this everyday and you’ve spent $20-30 a week at cafes when you could have stayed at home and not paid anything. I like to keep my cafe days to 2-3 times a week including weekends, and most often avoid baked goods to keep expenses down.

Does this even work for you at all?

For some people, going to a cafe to work is useless in the first place. I have one freelancer friend who can’t do this at all, and refuses to have to pay money just to sit down somewhere. He has a nice little office set up at home and lives with his girlfriend, so he’s pretty comfortable where he is. Why mess with a good thing? Some of us really are better off at home.

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