According to a recent study written about in the New York Times, we learn better and retain information more effectively when we switch up our study and work environments. So for the wanderlusters who can’t sit still in a sterile library room for hours at a time or have to hop from cafe to cafe to get a paper done, fear not–when your brain craves a little novelty in your studying or working environment, it’s perfectly normal and actually is a very good thing.
As somebody who is lucky to work from home, I can definitely attest to this. Staying holed up in my apartment all day definitely does not do me any good. I work best when I can switch it up and work in different settings, whether it is a local coffee house, a bookstore or a friend’s couch. Sometimes I prefer the solitude of staying at home, and sometimes I prefer the background buzz of strangers conversing over their lattes and frappucinos in a busy part of the city. Variety indeed is the spice of life when it comes to working and learning.
So what can we all start doing to spice up our usual hum-drum study desks, work cubicles and offices? Here are 6 tips to start adding some exciting variety to your usual working environment:
– Make a habit to study and work at different locations. Explore new wifi hot-spots in your neighborhood. There is nothing like the joy of discovering a new coffee house that has great internet, big desks and a welcoming cafe vibe.
– Switch up between working alone and working in groups. Sometimes you really need to hole yourself up somewhere to concentrate. Other times, it helps to bounce off the energy of other people’s ideas. Switch between both.
– Stuck in the same cubicle all day? Change the appearance of your environment, even if it is a little bit. It can be as simple as adding a potted bonsai plant on your desk, adding framed pictures, or simply de-cluttering the pile of papers and office supplies covering half of your desk space.
– Listen to different music than what you usually listen to. Switch up radio stations, listen to different podcasts, get new music from your musically inclined friends. If you can’t change your location, you can at least change the soundtrack of your study / work session.
– If you work at home, find local meet-ups of other freelancers who work from home. In many big cities, freelancers who are not bound by the cubicle do regular meet-ups at coffee houses and other public wifi places during the day so they can bond communally as "co-workers" instead of always being isolated. See if there is a freelance group in your neighborhood, or start your own.
– Ok, this is cheesy but it’s effective… change your ATTITUDE. Attitude changes everything. You can be moaning and groaning that it is still the middle of the week, or be absolutely thankful that you are employed when millions of people don’t have regular jobs. You can be annoyed that your boss gave you a big project that will take a lot of your time, or be honored that you are trusted with a big responsibility that you know you will excel at. At the end of the day, it is always an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude that will keep everything fresh, no matter what.