As I mentioned in my wrap-up post about working from libraries, spending so much time commuting all over the city (and outside the city) had really burned me out. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve overcompensated a little and have been working from home almost exclusively. I’ve also been catching up on client work.
I recorded a new episode of Timetable this morning to try to capture this change in work focus. Talking into the microphone for 5 minutes actually helped me assess where I’m at with my projects, and what I need to adjust to continue to make this blog and my podcasts a priority.
And speaking of podcasts, Ben Thompson and I published episode 3 of Technical Foul last night. We talk a lot about the wild last minute of Spurs/Thunder game 2, which I’m still thinking about even a couple days later.
I’ve now wrapped up the first week of my attempt to visit a new coffee shop I’ve never been to, every day for a month. To track the progress, I’ve created a web page with all the visits so far, the coffee shops I hope to try soon, and also a bunch of places I’ve already been over the years (and so which are disqualified from this endeavor).
This has required a little more planning than I expected. I’ll be going to all corners of the city to not repeat myself for a full 30 days. Even then, I’ll have to broaden my search to include more traditional cafes and donut shops too.
I’ve also realized that I need to do a better job of ordering something unique when it’s on the menu, or asking for a recommendation. After all, the point is to get out of the house more often — to take a break from the isolated work-from-home environment, be exposed to something new, even if it’s just a simple drink or view outside, and get back to my current projects refreshed.
Yesterday this weblog turned 13 years old. I don’t usually miss the anniversary; it’s a nice time to reflect on what I’m writing about here. But I’ve been incredibly busy this year, working on a range of things from real work to side projects to family stuff.
Over the weekend I also helped out at the annual STAPLE! comics show in Austin. This is always a great time to check out what independent artists are up to, and as usual I came away inspired to get back into drawing.
I’ll have a longer write-up about yesterday’s Apple event soon. I have a very negative opinion about the $10k Apple Watch Edition — not because it’s expensive, but because of what focusing on the super rich says about Apple’s priorities. Daniel and I talked about this at length on Core Intuition episode 174 a couple weeks ago.
Overall the event was great, though. I’m looking forward to pre-ordering a watch and getting into development. Leaning toward the 42mm Sport, with blue band and an extra classic buckle.
Ben Brooks makes several good arguments for working from coffee shops:
“Coffee Shops started sprouting up everywhere in the U.S. because of massive demand for the coffee shop — not massive demand for coffee, mind you, but for the seats in the shops. This is evident with the way most shops are setup, but no more evidence needed than to look at the move of Starbucks providing free WiFi, instead of paid WiFi they started with.”
I agree. There’s no sense in fighting this trend, and the coffee shops that do will largely fail. But also, as customers, we should be careful not to abuse the privilege. I try to follow these simple rules when working from a coffee shop:
- I don’t take up more space than I need.
If there’s a line, I usually wait until after I place my order before claiming a chair.
For local small businesses especially, I leave a tip.
After a few hours, I order another coffee or wrap up and leave.
Ben also points to a post from CJ Chilvers about libraries. I worked from my neighborhood library earlier this week — it’s a really nice, quiet environment — but the Austin libraries don’t allow you to bring any drinks inside yet, let alone have an on-site espresso machine. While traveling in Oregon a couple years ago, I remember the Eugene public library having a really nice cafe and I was immediately jealous.
Amy Hoy writes about master craftsmen and being accountable to your real customers:
“When you live and work in an insulated life — divorced from the end result of your work — you are spoiled. You’re graded more on your ability to please and manage gatekeepers than your work product. Gatekeepers are human; humans can be persuaded to accept excuses.”
Just enough separation from customers is healthy — email and tweets, instead of phone calls. But put up too many walls, too much bureaucracy, and you might no longer care who you’re building the software for. You might forget why it has to be great.