12 Productivity Tips for Laptopping at Starbucks

To go back and buy me a drink, here’s the link.
Thanks and now for some productivity tips:

1. Sitting position

When sitting, curl your legs back, and sit straight up, even arch back a bit.

This helps open up your body to better oxygen flow.While more oxygen ups your energizes, I think it’s more about the reduction of oxygen from bad posture that tires you.

Another reason this works is that when your upright, you’re in an attentive, active, awake state. Like in sports, you’re body is in an active position. You’re ready to work.Your body position affects your attitude. Ever try laying down when your angry? It doesn’t work. ;)

Watch this breathing in this video.

See how it’s shallow when I sit hunched over and how if I sit upright, my breaths are deeper and more replenishing.

Still think talking about breathing is hoo-haa ish?

I like swimming and yoga. I recently had the idea of doing some breath work before attempting to swim an olympic pool-length without coming up for air.

In the past a swim buddy of mine made me do this, and I did it, but not  without  intense self control and bursting out of the water gasping for life at the end. It was rough.

So, long story short …

… I did a series of quick breaths followed  by a 10 long deep breaths, and consciously relaxed my body and swam the length of the pool, underwater, with very peaceful strokes (imagine a manatee), and walked out of the pool without stress or gasping. It’s as if nothing happened. Amazing. So that’s how the magicians do it!

I’ll have to do a video of the swimming thing. ;)

Key: Position yourself for maximum oxygen intake.

This 12-hour stretch on the computer wearing on Kenn. Get me a drink.

2. Get a work buddy

Get a friend to go with you to the coffee shop to add to the fun. The cabin fever from working at home alone can wear on you. We humans are social creatures – not meant to be alone for too long. (Seen Cast Away with Tom Hanks? Great film).

MUST!!! Make sure your friend is a productive one.

Don’t invite friends who are just killing time playing around on Facebook, or there to kill time. Instead find industrious people who are, ideally, developing their career/businesses.

There’s energy being around others who are productive. Very nice.


The drink link to put a smile on Kenn’s face.

3. Tell yourself this if you resist getting started

I’ve read The Now Habit by Neil Fiore (A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play) several times. Yes it’s one of those books.

And in it, a huge resistance reliever was this self-talk statement in my own words:

“I can take one, small, imperfect step now for just 20 minutes, knowing I have plenty of time for play.”

You begin by setting a timer for 20 minutes.

Then go to work. When the alarm goes off STOP work and reward yourself with some fun activity. Even just walking out in the sun for a breath of fresh air and an outstretch.

If getting started has been tough for you, doing just 20 minutes starts (feel free to increase this later) and rewarding yourself will train yourself to be happy about doing work. Yes it’s Pavlov’s dogs at its best.

Think about this …

Just think, if you’re procrastinating by eating pretzels or playing iPhone games, you’re actually rewarding yourself for avoiding the important. And in the long run this just gets worse!

The beauty of this statement is that it softens many resistance spots stun your efforts. 

  • Imperfect step – Yes, you can be human and do something less than perfect.Whew!
  • Just one step – You don’t have to do everything at once. You have permission to let go of everything and just do one single thing. Nice.
  • A small step – Yes, you can do something small. You don’t have to climb a mountain all in one single effort. Ahhh.
  • Just 20 minutes – I don’t have to work for days on end without a break, I can stop. Thank god!

Oh! Get a timer.

Get this alarm clock to set your timer to 20 minutes. Remember: do not stop during those 20 minutes for anything, no phone calls, email chimes, door knocks, or nose picking. Stay focused during those 20. Pee after. ;)

Get Cool Timer – a quick and dirty timer tool that works like a charm (Windows only).

Plan B: Get your iPhone clock out.

I give you permission to take one, small, imperfect step now for just 20 minutes, and afterwards you can stop and go do something else fun.

Does begging for drinks reduce my professional image? I’m not sure, but I know it makes me kinda thirsty. Buy Kenn Tea.

4. Money-saver: Free tea and coffee refills at Starbucks

If you get a Starbucks Card and make 5 purchases you get the green level which entitles you to free refills of coffee and tea.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, YES, you can choose a new and different tea bag when you ask for a tea refill. Or at least I should say that the one rep I contacted from Starbucks Customer Care said it was so. She said, in an email I have,

“When it comes to the refill on a Tea, you can defiantly request a different kind of tea. You can defiantly print this out and let your store view this email.”

5. Leave an extra jacket or sweatshirt in your car.

Reason: Air-conditioners gone wild and Jack Frost. It sucks to have to leave a coffee shop because your cold. I personally love American apparel thermal shirts. Fit great and keep me warm without a lot of bulky material.

(pic of me in my grey shirt and doofy hat at bux)

6. The day before trick

The evening before, put your top one or two items to complete the next day. Must be A priority items towards your most important goal. Must! And no more than two items. They must be completable within an hour each.

This is to help create momentum. When you feel like your moving towards your most important future goals, you’ll get a boost of energy that will leak into getting lots of the smaller things done.

It’s the opposite of doing the small unimportant things and feeling empty because you know your bigger goals aren’t being moved along.

The reason it’s the night before is to (1) stop you from thinking about work because you know you’ve got tomorrows list ready (helps you sleep to), AND (2) you won’t dilly dally with email or wakup trying to prioritize your start of the day as it’s already been done.

Bonus point 1 – Pick a time and place to get started for the next morning and arrive on time.

Bonus point 2 – Get a friend to do it with you and email each other your list – accountability. 

Kenn’s sugar levels are dropping. He needs a pick-me-up! 

7. Mix it up.

I don’t know too many people who don’t like some form of art, music, or dance or some other form of creative human expression. These are the spices life.

Just the same, having a few different spots for doing your work can add variety.  Sometimes you’ll feel like Bux other times the library and other times at home. Get to know the place around you and be open to trying new places here and there.

Reading these tips sure seems to make you thirsty. While you’re there,
can you grab me a drink too?

8. Make “YOU” time

I can’t live without basketball. It’s total me time. It’s totally play time. It’s great exercise to boot. This is my zone. You get burnt out if too much of your time is for your work or for others and not enough to your own fun outlets.

Just the same, you may be pleasantly surprised, that when you get solid play time in, two benefits to work happen: (1) problems at work get solved by the unconscious during play time, and (2) a solid break away from work can recharge you and actually make you return to work with more energy, focus and less fear.

I know it sounds backwards, but if you haven’t had enough time for yourself, try it out for an experiment. Find one of your most favorite fun past time (focued on you), be it a sport, drawing, bike riding, singing, painting, night club dancing, piano playing, etc.

The same drink link as before.

9. Three great computer geek stretches

Being on the computer can stiff you up, especially around the neck area as your body curls forward to the computer for hours on end.  The is even more true if some of our work feels stressful.

The answer? Stretches.

Neck stretches

An ex-girlfriend who was a massage therapist showed me this one. It’s gold. Oustretch one arm at a 45 degree angle downward, and make a stop sight with your hand, fingers upward. With the other hand, lightly pull your head the opposite way. Adjust slightly where needed to feel it.

Wall stand

flat wall stand (basic) for a minute breathing slowly and small of back pressed to the wall best you can.
Behind prayer

Behind payer (intermediate) make a prayer with your hands but behind you, at first you’ll probably only be able to just hold your opposite elbows. That’s ok. Work up to it. Again, a minute with back straight and neck straight.
short video.

Wheel pose (warning: very advanced)

This is super advanced. (I’m mainly doing this because I look like a paranormal demon and it’s hilarious) Most yoga students can only do this for a few seconds. Many have to do a modified version which is perfect. You’re at where you’re at.

(video of me showing the three stretches)

Kenn sucks at copy editing and it makes him thirsty. Quench Kenn with a drink.

10. Turn “interrupters” off

Leave cell phone leave in car or power down in your bag.
Do not open email or skype or other chat devices. In fact, turn off the setting that loads them on startup. (Do this now!)

Eww! Coffee grains in my drink! Get Kenn a new drink.

 11. What to say to interrupting people.

If people interrupt, and they will, here’s what to say to them, “Hey, I’m right in the middle of this. Let me get back to it.” Or “I gotta get this done.” Point to your laptop and make this face.

(video with this face: K).
(Here’s a face to make video)

If you’ve got to cut a conversation short, you can say, “Hey, Let’s pick this conversation up later, I’ve got to get back to this work.” People understand that “work” is important. Gotta earn that buck. Right?

If you buy me a drink, I’ll give you another five minutes of my time. Get Kenn a drink.

12. Earplugs without music

Earplugs are great for noisy coffee shops. They help deter people form interrupting you and they can drastically muffle down the noisyness.  They also don’t look space-age or retro like noise-cancelling headsets.

  • The best earbuds I’ve found to date are these JVC Inner Ear Sport-Clip Headphones (blackwhitepink) for around $13. They fit snuggly in the ear and block out a lot of sound. They come with three sizes of buds. For music their great too because they block outside noise to a decent degree giving you some good  sound quality. And they’re very inexpensive. One bad thing about them is the buds come off sometimes and get easily lost. Still worth it though.
  • You can also pop by the drug store (CVS, Walgreens) to pick up some ear plugs. Only thing with those is that they I can feel pressure inside my ears and the sound of y breathing is super amplified. They work too well – probably best for concerts or construction sites.

Got a solid tip? Tried out one of these?  Tell me about it.

3 Responses to productivity

  1. Malana Ashley December 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    More than happy to buy you coffee for all your help; your extra tips were a plus. The coffee gift will be coming thru paypal under (Roger) KlieshHawaii. FYI I could not log out of PayPal to return to you…not the best.
    Second: Your message from the Starbuck’s gal may not serve you if she really wrote “defiantely” instead of definitely.

    And lastly: my Latin translator came up with “Lorem itself pain he is amet consectetur to come up to elit. Maecenas upon nulla nibh , or always dui. Eneus word nibh and not feugiat dignissim.” for the translation of your message…?ok…I give.
    That was fun and the gift my pleasure, but I’ve got to get back to work.

    • Kenn December 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      She actually did say “Defiantly” (defiant!) in the email and by her voice it sounded like she meant it that way. But now that you bring it up, maybe she goofed and mean definitely. Thanks for the .01% boost in productviity for 2012!

  2. sheila March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    You have a charming way of attracting business and I like that! I bought you a TEA because of your creative ways. May I ask: I’ve got tons of articles to publish and would appreciate your direction to the sites that have helped you. I’ve been doing Daniel Hall’s RealFastBook to get started. I’ve also already published a book that needs promotion, so I want to exerpt chapters. I don’t like blogging…. because I don’t know how it really attracts a market.

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