Getting Out of Your Rut: A Change of Scenery


Working in different places can prove to be quite beneficial. A change of scenery could be exactly what you need if you’re stuck in a creative rut or experiencing writers block – or just simply bored.

By changing your location, atmosphere, tools, and even clothing, you can change the way you work.

I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting with this, and find it to be quite effective. Here are some examples of some different work environments and the types of work you can achieve in each setting:

The Office

  • Desktop: I do most of my heavy-duty work sitting at my desk using a laptop connected to a second display, with a full keyboard and mouse. A great setting for writing long emails, analyzing stats, updating spreadsheets, photo/video editing, final design work, etc.
  • Laptop: When I first get into the office in the morning I’ll sit in the kitchen and have a cup of coffee while I scan through Twitter, read the news, and check for any important emails.Later in the day, when I have the heavy-duty stuff out of the way, I’ll often sit on the couch with my laptop and efficiently go through a bunch of short emails.When working on a very particular single task (i.e. writing the script for a marketing video) I’ll head over to a private room and work from my laptop in complete silence.
  • Pen and Paper: When brainstorming for new projects I like to go old school – I’ll grab a sketchbook and pen and sit a large table and let my ideas flow.

Home

  • Desktop: At home I’ll also use my desk with external monitor when doing heavier tasks.
  • Laptop: At home I primarily use my laptop for writing. In the summer I’ll sit out in the back yard and enjoy the inspirational calmness of nature to help me write a blog post. When weather doesn’t permit I’ll often sit on the couch, or find a new place I haven’t worked from before. I find working from my laptop keeps me focused on writing – without a mouse I’m not as tempted to get lost in the world of social networks, instant messaging, and hilarious videos.

Mobile

  • Phone: I use my iPhone to read the blogs I follow, take in the latest industry news, and jot down important notes and tasks. Since I always have my iPhone with me, I can usually get all of my reading done while I’m away from the computer – when I’m eating, waiting for a movie to start, or sitting passenger in another vehicle. If I read something that needs further attention, I’ll send an email to myself and check it out later.

Another work environment I couldn’t go without is the shower – yes, the shower. The shower is a great place to escape distractions and let your mind relax. Once you’re able to do so, great ideas seem to find their way into your head. Sometimes I’ll jump out of the shower and write something on the foggy mirror, although you can actually buy notepads for the shower with waterproof pens and paper – pretty neat!

Clothing

If your office adheres to “casual fridays” (or in my case, a formal day once in a while), you’ll probably notice a change in behaviour amongst your co-workers. The clothes you wear while working can steer you towards creativity, professionalism, productivity, and punctuality. When I’m home I usually like to be as comfortable as possible (sweatpants), but find that sticking to a more formal dress code can make me more productive. Throwing on those sweatpants can make you want to sit back and watch a movie – instead of work on that important project.

Music

Depending on my mood and work strategy, I’ll play different types of music. If I’m trying to hammer through a bunch of emails I like to listen to something upbeat and energetic. While editing photos and browsing the Internet I prefer something mellow. When I’m writing I usually avoid music all together. If you work with music in the background, try experimenting with a drastic change in genres for certain tasks – you may be surprised at the results.

Things

The things you have around you also impact the way you work. Do you really think you’re going to be super creative in that all-grey cubicle? If you don’t have the option of working outside of your cubicle, it will be up to you to liven up your work atmosphere. It’s amazing how much a plant or two can do for creativity. Just make sure you don’t have too many photos, toys, and other items on your desk or you’ll become distracted.

Experience a change of scenery – it may change more than just that.


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Hello! I'm the Marketing + PR Coordinator for Marketcircle and a full-time driving enthusiast :D
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Discussion

  1. Rondal on the 24th February

    Very insightful article, Ryan. Makes me think of how my disorganized I can be sometimes and how much that might be affecting my performance.

  2. James spencer on the 24th February

    Great points Ryan, personal appearance is a tool not many people think of. Going from tee’s/jeans to dress shirts/pants has not only improved my work Mojo but my overall attitude as well. Now it’s a “let’s get down to business”.

    Keep these coming!

    (Maybe I’ll work from a fort made out of blankets and cardboard).

  3. Melissa on the 24th February

    Wow Ryan, you really hit the nail on the head here.

    After reading your article and knowing I have an essay to write for University I immediately took a shower, put on some presentable clothing (from sweats) and went into my kitchen (when I usually work in my bedroom) to get to work.

    Refreshing myself with a shower to start the brainstorming process and changing clothes and scenery really helped me, as James said, “get down to business.”

    Thanks for the great advice!! I can’t wait to hear more!

  4. John Paul Aguiar on the 24th February

    Great tips. For me I am much more productive after a shower and getting dressed then I am in the mindset of getting to work. Staying in pj’s just keeps my mindset to relax.

  5. Vunky on the 24th February

    Great article. I’m sure you are one of the first to get an iPad to read blogs on the go ;)

  6. Marsha Egan on the 27th February

    Shifting your frame of reference can shift your perspective. If you have any large project to do, such as writing a book, or a project that will take several weeks, it can be very useful to find a new place to work on it. I know someone who wrote an entire book at her local coffee shop. When she was there, that’s all she worked on — nothing else, when she left — she stopped working on the book.

  7. Ana da Silva on the 2nd March

    I like this article Ryan!

  8. Ryan on the 4th March

    Thanks for the great comments guys!

    @Marsha – that story about the author who wrote an entire book at her local coffee shop is amazing! Any more details on the story?

  9. Chris Roane on the 5th March

    I currently work out of my home office which is in a basement, that is in a room without any windows. I can definitely relate to how changing the work environment can have a positive impact on a lot of things!

    One thing that I haven’t tried yet is to see if my programming improves if I am naked. I’ll give this a shot and let you know the results! :)

  10. Ross on the 15th April

    Hi, Ive never had an iphone because Im afraid if will “stick” me too much to my work. On the other hand I keep thinking of the things I may be missing out on when Im away from my “office”. I feel that productivity includes getting away from it all… (office and computer..) any advice?

  11. Ryan on the 16th April

    Ross, you’re definitely right when you worry about the iPhone making you work “all the time” – but you’re also right when you say that it helps you avoid missing things when you’re out and about.

    If you can manage to keep yourself somewhere in between both extremes, you’ll enjoy the iPhone.

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