As a freelancer, my work isn't tied to any physical location, and I tend to do a lot of work in coffee shops. I like the atmosphere, the easy access to caffeine, and the chance to sit back and watch the city walk by. As a professional beverage connoisseur, I've found it useful to follow a few best practices.
Sit Where You're Appreciated
I always feel bad taking the last table at a crowded coffee shop, especially when I know I'm going to be camping out for a few hours! Also, the more empty tables to chose from, the more likely you'll find one with an outlet underneath. If the only coffee shops nearby are tiny corner-cafe types, use the Starbucks store locator or Google Mapsto find other locations in your area.
Put Up The Firewall!
You never know who else is on your network, so make sure your firewall and anti-virus software is up to date. Windows comes with a Firewall built in; Zone Alarm is also a good alternative. AVG offers a free anti-virus solution that should take care of anything the firewall lets through.
Build an Ergonomic Stimulus Package
The comfy coffee-shop chair you're sitting on and fashionable coffee-shop table you're typing on were probably not designed with ergonomics in mind, so you've got to help yourself:
- Use an external mouse instead of the trackpad or touchpoint built into your laptop, especially for extended work sessions.
- Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor, with good posture.
- Get up and move around every 15-20 minutes to give yourself a break and get your blood moving.
Wikipedia has more information.
Buy Something Already
You don't want to be known as the mooch that just comes in to "steal the internets," do you? Plunk down some change for a coffee. For a healthier zero-cal alternative, try some herbal tea (blackcurrant is a particular favorite) or steamed milk (which goes great with cookies!)
Get a Hotspot Account
While many mom and pop coffee shops have free WiFi access, you may have to pay for internet access at corporate chains like Starbucks and Borders. AT&T and T-Mobile offer hotspot plans, and each offers a discount if you already pay for their other services, such as DSL or phones. (If you are an AAdvantage member,
earn 5,000 AAdvantage miles by joining T-Mobile -- 250 miles for each month paid and 1,000 for each six months, for the first year.)
Be Aware of Theft
If you have to pop away for a second to order another drink or use the restroom, make sure to pack up your belongings and bring them with you, or ask the barista or a trusted acquaintance to look after your things until you get back. Don't leave your laptop unattended near a door or window under any circumstances: a passer-by may see your laptop, pop in and grab it, and run out before anyone has a chance to respond.