We’ve all been there.
“Yeah, just spent the day at a nice little coffee shop working on a couple projects. It was a really productive day.”
I’m sure it was.
We all know that for 96% of us (source to be included in follow-up article), the most important battle at the coffee shop is not actually making progress on your projects – it’s looking like you’re making progress. Since, obviously, everyone in the coffee shop is paying attention to you and the world is constantly judging you.
So with that primer, here are five ways YOU can seem thoughtful and productive while in a coffee shop.
This should be obvious and mostly applies to males (also consider shaving using a mirror). It’s the only tip that requires action outside the coffee shop, but a crucial piece nonetheless. Shower, smell nice, wear matching clothing and suddenly people start thinking… “yeah, that look likes a productive person over there.”
- IST – GP Ratio and the Gladwell Theorem.
Working in a coffee shop requires oscillating between intensely staring at your screen and/or typing (“IST”) and gazing around and pondering (“GP”). Your IST-GP ratio should NEVER exceed 2:1 and should preferably stay around 1:1. Anything above that begins to draw unwanted suspicion from other customers. The Gladwell Theorem states that as your IST-GP ratio approaches 3:1, the probability that other customers realize you were just instant messaging friends the entire time approaches 1. Trust me, they know.
- Bring a notebook.
If you’re handwriting something in a notebook, people know that you’re a serious and productive person. It doesn’t matter what you write (or doodle) or even whether the pen has any ink remaining. All people will take note of is that you just put pen to paper, and that means you are most likely developing or brainstorming a creative solution to some problem you’re facing with respect to a project. Just don’t let anyone get too close and see what’s in the notebook.
- Take or make a phone call.
This one may require the assistance of friends or family, unless you are comfortable faking a conversation by yourself (not recommended). Get up from your seat, but be sure to leave your laptop on and a word document with some text up on the screen. If you have headphones, great, but you can also take the call in a traditional manner. Now this next part is vital. Step away from where you and the other customers are sitting, but not so far that your conversation is out of earshot. Now begin pacing back and forth and saying things like, “just trying to meet this deadline,” or “I’m working on a new project.” Nicely done.
- Do some work.
Consider working on a real (non-imaginary) project. Actually doing some work is arguably the third most effective way to seem like you’re working, studies show. It might just be your missing link.