The coffee shop office

2017-09-25

OK vagabonds. Let’s look at our offices!

I moved into a motorhome in 2007.

My first rig was actually a chevy van. Not much room for an office there but I did build a little table that I could sit on the end of the “bed” and use my computer on. I had one of those all in one things. Where the flat screen monitor housed the whole machine with a separate keyboard and mouse.

It was so modern it had wifi and I had figured out how to run linux on it.

Back then no one protected their wifi and it seemed like everyone was getting it, so I could just drive around until I found an open router and get to work. Right in front of a big apartment building was usually a sure thing.

When I got my first real rig, I tore the dinette out right away and made a desk there. I had a super nice rolling office chair so I figured out how to secure it to the desk with a bungie while I was driving. This worked great. After a while I even got one of the original 3E “laptops” so I did not have to run the generator to charge the computer hardly at all. Those all in ones were real power hogs.

After a few years on the road I moved onto a sailboat. It had a very nice dinette with an oak table. There are wear patterns where the feet on my macbook pro contacted the varnish.

These offices inside worked in a pinch but I always tried to find a coffee shop if I could. It doesn’t matter that I make better coffee than the vast majority of shops. It is nice to sit down, plug in, and get to work without thinking about bandwidth or power.

And it fits in nicely with the Monk Mode Morning hack.

“The execution of the monk mode morning is straightforward. Between when you wake up and noon: no meetings, no calls, no texts, no email, no Slack, no Internet. You instead work deeply on something (or some things) that matter.” http://calnewport.com/blog/2017/02/24/the-rise-of-the-monk-mode- morning/

This way, I never look back at a day and think I did not get anything done. This approach goes well with cafes. Get up in the morning, take the dinghy to shore, walk to a coffee shop and set up. Order coffee. Get to work. Get a refill and order some food. Get back to work. By the time I am done with breakfast and my second cup of coffee, I have four solid hours of work in. Basically uninterrupted, focused work done. No matter what I do for the rest of the day, I have accomplished something.

Dan over at Tropical MBA makes this comment,

“These are the spaces, outside of perhaps only our beds, where many of us spend the most time. And for all their importance to our small subculture, I rarely see them talked about.” http://www.tropicalmba.com/accidental-workplace/

In this article he talks about establishments all over the world that seem to cater to the vagabond business person, location independent entrepreneur. I have not spent much time in developing economies so I have not experienced these establishments myself, yet. I am interested in your experiences.

Then there is the hotel lobby. Many financial and self help advisors recommend spending time in a high end hotel lobby as a method to increase a mental equivalent and demystify the opulent lifestyle. Generally they make good coffee, albeit dearly valued. And the service is always excellent. I found that if I felt I may not be welcome to hang out there, simply asking “is it OK to hang out here” cleared that up right away every time. It’s amazing what simply asking the questions can do.

In all of these scenarios there is the inevitable issue of finding a power outlet within reach. A good long charging cable is a necessity. For my phone, which I use as a full blown workstation quite a bit, I have one of these:

Asking to plug in to the only outlet around when it is on the other side of your neighbor is a great way to get started with a new friend.

If they are already plugged in with a laptop out, asking “how’s the internet here” can get the conversation going.

And there is the value of finding a coffee shop in a new port or town. When you got up this morning and made coffee in your kitchen it was nice. But you’ve done it before. You’ve done it before so many times you don’t remember doing it today. But if I get up in a new town, find a coffee shop and hang out all morning, often there is an experience that sets the day apart.

How much time do you spend in a coffee shop state side? How much time have you spent in establishments abroad? Leave a comment below!

Lonn

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