I happened across an article on LIfehacker the other day by Robby Macdonell, which really resonated with me. It advocated “Location Boxing” to get your brain to switch gears between different styles of thinking. The suggestion is that when you need to switch the type of work you are doing, changing your physical situation can help you more quickly and successfully transfer your brain from your last task to the next one.
This is an interesting thought and one that I think makes a lot of sense. It reminds me of a study I read about years ago. It said that people associate what they are learning with the place they learned it at. So, if you studied math in your room, you would remember the math and perform it better in that room. If you practiced your speech in the room you were going to be giving the speech in, you would remember the speech better when it came time to talk than if you memorized it in your car and presented it in a theater.
So, I can see where logically it makes sense that if you usually do analytical thinking in a certain setting, then your brain would gear for that type of thought when you settle back into that setting. It definitely seems to be the case for me. If I sit down at the kitchen table to do some work, I take longer to settle into work than if I sit down in my office. The difference between the spaces is that I’m usually distracted at the kitchen table and in my office I only sit down and work. The funny thing is that even when I’m home alone, with no distractions, I take longer to be able to get completely focused at the kitchen table. If I’m in my office and a distraction pops up, on the other hand, I’m able to dismiss it more quickly.
The article really served as a reminder that I need to get a little better at choosing where I work on certain tasks. I need to make a point to only doing nonessential, quick tasks in the kitchen. My serious work needs to happen in my office. Now I just need to pick a better location for brainstorming and creative pursuits. I’ll give a few spots a try over the next few weeks.