Solving problems while sitting in your office lends itself to coming up with solutions as boring and routine as your office walls have become. Get out and adventure — across the city, the state, even the world — to solve problems creatively and effectively.
Photo by David Paul Ohmer.
Looking at the same problems from the same location with the same perspective day after day can lead to stagnant problem solving and lacklustre solutions. At the productivity blog 99% they’ve taken an in-depth look at research related to travel, movement and creativity.
As Jonah Lehrer writes in a recent Guardian piece, “Several new science papers suggest that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking.” Certainly, we’ve all experienced the feeling that work concerns are just less important the farther away we get from the office. Now there’s proof to back up the classic “out of sight, out of mind” expression.
Lehrer goes on, “The reason such travels are mentally useful involves a quirk of cognition, in which problems that feel ‘close’ – and the closeness can be physical, temporal or even emotional – get contemplated in a more concrete manner. As a result, when we think about things that are nearby, our thoughts are constricted, bound by a more limited set of associations. While this habit can be helpful – it allows us to focus on the facts at hand – it also inhibits our imagination.”
In the most extreme form people take entire sabbaticals from work and travel to enhance their creativity. Realistically most of us can’t take a few months or a year off to leverage Rome as our creative muse. We can, however, get out of the office and do some serious thinking at the local botanical garden, while surrounded by foreign speakers at a cultural festival or other places that temporarily shift our thinking away from the constraints of office walls. Check out the full article at the link below for an interesting look at how location alters our thinking.
Have a story or two to share about how greener pastures made solving your problems a snap? Let’s hear about it in the comments.