My most productive places to work are coffee shops. They're not particularly inspirational. In fact, they're usually loud and uncomfortable, yet I get stuff done faster and more efficiently while I'm there. Writer Asher Stephenson has a theory behind why this happens: it's about novelty.
Photo by Neo_II
We spend a lot of time and energy arranging our workspaces so they're inspirational and productive. As Stephenson points out, none of that matters as much as simply working in a place you're unfamiliar with. Here's why:
What [coffee shops] do give you is an environment free of the mental distractions that fill your home and your office. When you go somewhere new, getting work done there is as novel as watching Netflix for six hours there. Your body (and brain) doesn't fall into your usual unproductive slump, because it isn't exposed to the triggers of your usual environment.
I consciously change up my work environment, not because those other environments are better, not because they're inherently more productive — I do it to exploit my own mental tendencies. But, at the same time, I work hard to keep myself from relying too heavily on those external cues for productivity.
In other words, sometimes the cues and triggers we establish to motivate us actually backfire. If they don't work, we start to associate them with distraction, which is why it helps to change things up. It's not to say you should abandon your workspace altogether, but it might pay to focus your efforts more on novelty than inspiration. For more, head to the full post below.