Hello Coffee Girl

8 03 2010

I spent my lunch break today at a coffee shop and I think I had one of Oprah’s ‘aha!’ moments.  I was talking with someone last week who was having trouble working at home because her mother walking into the room would distract her and because she had difficulty setting time aside to do the assignments (similar to something I’ve heard several freelance writing friends of mine say was an issue for them as well).  I told her that when I was having trouble concentrating on a book club book or some other personal project that I found it helpful to head to a bookstore or coffee shop so that I wasn’t distracted by the things that needed to be done around the house.

She said she had considered that, but that her mom had said that if her mom merely walking in to the room was enough to distract her then trying to work someplace as chaotic as a bookstore or coffee shop would be impossible.

Personally, I don’t find that to be the case and based on the number of people I see in there on a regular basis who seem to be working in some form or another I’m not alone. So today as I was working on day 5 of writing my 750 words a day journal I pondered this phenomenon. Sitting there listening to the banter of the baristas, the customers placing their orders, the guy next to me making phone calls, the women across the way engaged in conversation, and the hum of the equipment (oddly enough no loud music like there usually is when I’m there), it did seem rather chaotic and yet it became a sort of white noise.   Every once in a while one of the conversations would break through and grab my attention for a while, but on the whole not so much. But it was those times or the times when I needed a break from my writing that I realized another one of the reasons I enjoy working in a coffee shop. I like people watching. I like catching snippets of conversations. I enjoy that the baristas there know me and chat with me when I’m taking a break.

For a time I had a friend who would meet up with me in the evenings after work at another coffee shop where we’d discuss the events of our days, work on our separate projects, and maybe grab a bite to eat. Being single, having that sort of outlet was nice. It allowed social interaction while still getting some work done.  Things change and friends move on so I don’t have a regular outing to the coffee shop scheduled anymore which is when the ‘aha!’ hit me.  Since the regular coffee meet-ups ended, I’ve been staying later at work.  It hit me as I sat there today thinking about how a chaotic coffee shop could be a place to be productive that the reason I was working later at the office was because that is a place where I can concentrate on the tasks I have to complete.  However, there is something key missing from this latest routine…social interaction…with physically present humans and not my friends from all over via the internet (not that I don’t appreciate them).  It explains why I’ve enjoyed going to my friends’ stores and the coffee shop at lunch and on weekends to work on projects…the social butterfly in me NEEDS this sort of activity to keep myself sane and from completely withdrawing into my shell.

I’ve decided that even if I have to go on my own, I will make it a goal to hit the coffee shop at least once a week rather than staying at the office so late.  I will make a date with myself to put myself out in public.  Who knows what that could bring in addition to continued productivity and some good people watching?!

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