I was working in a cafe the other day when I noticed that I was being oddly productive.
After some consideration, I decided my ability to write more in the cafe – than, say, in the privacy of my apartment – was in-part because of a small group of people sitting directly behind me. Those individuals could possibly see the full view of my computer screen, I knew.
As a result of this subtle difference (the cafe, with people being able to view what work I was– or was not – getting done, versus my home, where nobody would be there to look over my shoulder as I worked) I found myself forced into being more productive.
Where we decide to work does that to us. Our environment shapes our behaviors and our ideas more than we may like to admit or consciously acknowledge more often than not.
The musician who practices in a private studio may find herself more focused, but if she were to move to a busy street corner she may find herself challenged more, since the constant barrage of strange passerby’s would pressure her into performing without error.
Or consider the artist who practices his painting in a classroom. The instructor or a fellow student may occasional glance at the work the artists is making and provide feedback, potentially improving (and propelling) his craft.
Take that same artist and put him into an unusual environment (like that of a cafe) and the feedback will undoubtedly change. In this example the responses would be less of instructional ones to more of peculiar, interest, or possibly critically scoffing ones (who paints in a cafe anyway?).
The point is this: to truly challenge yourself and what you’re capable of doing with your creative work, you have to shakeup your environment.
Go try working where someone wouldn’t expect you to be, or go work where you haven’t been before. The environment will surely shape not only your productivity, but the ideas you have for and around the work too.