A Life of Productivity tip #60: Coffitivity

Some of A Life of Productivity‘s tips have caused my friends to raise a sceptical eyebrow or two – I think none more so than #60:

Download Coffitivity (web, Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac). The ambient hum of a coffee shop has been proven to boost your productivity and creativity. Coffitivity simulates that same vibe on your computer.


Explaining to my nearest and dearest that I am wearing earphones not to listen to Taylor Swift but to, essentially, pretend that I’m in Starbucks, turns out to cause much merriment. “Technology has gone too far,” quoth my other half. “Are you going to make yourself a pretend coffee as well?” wondered a colleague. Arf arf arf.

A year ago I probably would have laughed along, but here’s the thing – Coffitivity works. Last November I had my annual crack at NaNoWriMo and – for the first time in six years of taking part – actually completed a 50,000-word first draft of a novel.

Over half of those words were written in the last 2 days of November (don’t try this at home, folks) through the old-fashioned lock-yourself-in-a-room-and-don’t-come-out-until-you’ve-done-it method. I needed something to listen to – if only to drown out other, more distracting sounds, like distant dogs and burglar alarms and the weird mystery noise coming from the takeaway downstairs – but I find music with lyrics too distracting when I’m writing fiction, and don’t know enough about classical music to pick something to listen to. So, having seen ALOP’s reference to Coffitivity earlier in the year, I gave it a go.

ALOP refers to a study that suggests people are more productive in coffee shops – like Family Guy’s Starbucks Writers in the image above – because, basically, they’re being watched. And it makes a kind of sense that replicating the ambient noise of a coffee shop could work as a kind of productive conditioning. Whatever the reason behind it – Coffitivity works. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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