When you work from home it can be tempting to skip making coffee for yourself and head out to a local coffee shop. Generally I resist the temptation, but I was reminded the other day that giving in to it could be a very good thing for creativity and for business, even though you pay more for the coffee.

What happened was that on Monday last I had a call from a Sydney-based friend and colleague who had mentioned that he would be in my neighbourhood this week. We had previously agreed that it would be a good opportunity to catch up. So I put on one of my better – and nicely pressed – t-shirts and headed out.

Apart from the enjoyment of having a very well made espresso at a new coffee shop at nearby Coolangatta, overlooking the beach, it was great to have a bit of a brainstorming chat with my colleague, livewire David Addison, MD of the go-ahead, Sydney-based events management company, Avanti Events.

I came back to my home office an hour or so later fully fired up with new ideas and enthusiasm – and it wasn’t just the coffee.

My belief – and I read somewhere that someone else thought of this well before I did – is that by getting away from your regular working environment you give your brain a chance to surface some new ways of thinking and new options. And I recall very well that in the past when I was working on some big projects, some of the best ideas were written on a paper napkin from a coffee shop or restaurant.

My hunch is that the burst of creativity which produces solutions in that way is a combination of:

  • being away from the papers on your desk or the stuff on your screen
  • being in more free-ranging conversation mode than when you are in the office, concentrating on whatever the current agenda is.

Which reminds me, I’m often amused to observe that, although ‘agenda’ means literally ‘(things) requiring to be done’ (in the rather lumpen way we used to translate Latin words and expressions), the ‘agenda’ for meetings in the world of government, business and organisations is often used as a device to stop anything getting done.

That’s another reason to head for the coffee shop and have an agenda-free, broad-ranging conversation with intelligent friends or colleagues.

It could actually be better for your business than sitting at your computer or on the phone all day, drinking your own coffee.

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