429: Thinking

Where do you get most of your thinking done?

Full episode script

As we talked about a few episodes ago, the human mind seems to like activity and, many times, default to it. Yet unless one takes time to sort through and think through things, things can get a little piled up.

There are innumerable tips and tricks on how to create spaces and places conducive to thinking. There’s been a lot of research on specifically creative thinking, though it does seem that much of that research pertains to all types of thinking.

As reported in the New York Times, quote:

In a series of experiments that looked at the effects of noise on creative thinking, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had participants brainstorm ideas for new products while they were exposed to varying levels of background noise. Their results, published in The Journal of Consumer Research, found that a level of ambient noise typical of a bustling coffee shop or a television playing in a living room, about 70 decibels, enhanced performance compared with the relative quiet of 50 decibels.

A higher level of noise, however, about 85 decibels, roughly the noise level generated by a blender or a garbage disposal, was too distracting, the researchers found.

Ravi Mehta, an assistant professor of business administration at the university who led the research, said that extreme quiet tends to sharpen your focus.

Or perhaps it is not so much the level of noise as it is the level of light. As reported in the Pacific Standard:

“Darkness increases freedom from constraints, which in turn promotes creativity,” report Anna Steidle of the University of Stuttgart and Lioba Werth of the University of Hohenheim. A dimly lit environment, they explain in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition,” all of which encourage innovative thinking.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, it has nothing to do with light or noise levels, but more about what a place means to you personally.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.