How to Turn a Coffee Shop Into the Ultimate Office Space

Last Updated Sep 14, 2010 4:50 PM EDT

As I predicted years ago (ask Dave, he'll tell you), most coffee shops now offer free Wi-Fi--which makes them ideal secondary workplaces.

Indeed, on those days when I can't stand being chained to my desk for one more second, I head to Panera Bread, order an iced tea and French Toast bagel, and get to work. More often than not, I accomplish as much in a couple hours there as I do in a full day at the home office.

Of course, there are secrets to making the "away office" a productive place. You need the right software and settings for your laptop, the right accessories for your gear, and even the right attitude. To that end, Lifehacker explains how to stay productive working from coffee shops. For example, if you really need peace and quiet, consider skipping the coffee shop altogether in favor of:

The Library. Yes, the Library
I'm embarrassed to admit how much of a revelation this was for me, but there's a really good chance that your nearest public library has all the conditions you find lacking. It's exceedingly quiet, the Wi-Fi is secure and much more stable than most coffee shops, and you don't need to purchase coffee to use any of it. Even better, you can score all kinds of freebies and cheap tickets to local attractions. When I was down to the wire on my book and needed a place to squirrel away for an entire day's worth of writing, I'd find a plug near the reference stacks and start plugging away.
Author Kevin Purdy really covers all the bases here, like Dropbox for keeping your files in sync, PDAnet for tethering your phone (just in case the local hotspot's on the fritz), and extra batteries for your stuff (in case you can't sit near an outlet).

But I can't concur with his take on headphones, which he says "defeats the point of getting out in public." All too often I get distracted by background music, coffee-prep equipment, and/or people yelling into their cell phones. That's why I never hit the away-office without a pair of noise-isolating earphones -- and my iPod, of course.

How do you fight distraction and improve productivity when you're working the Starbucks shift? Hit the comments and share your tips.

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