How can you increase your productivity by changing where you work?

Have you ever feel a drop in your motivation over time, compared to the start of the new project? Have you ever started a new way of organising your time, only for the energy boost to trail off within a week?

You might be coming up against the novelty effect, which can sap your productivity and block you from achieving what you want to. It’s something I’ve experienced in my own life. Here are some tips and observations that have helped me when I face it.


What is the novelty effect?

In case you didn’t already know, the novelty effect is a common phenomenon where performance or motivation will initially improve at first when something new is introduced. However, this is not down to any actual improvement in learning or achievement, but rather a response to increased interest in the new element that has been introduced.

It comes about as a reaction to stress, surprisingly enough. When something new happens, our bodies perceive it as a potential threat. We go into overdrive, to make sure we’re not caught off guard by this unknown risk factor.

Of course, nowadays we’re unlikely to meet a life-threatening risk in the workplace or daily lives. Instead, that extra spurt of energy tricks us into thinking that we have more motivation, are working better, or are more productive than we ordinarily are.

Sometimes, this can be fun. Think of the excitement of starting a new job or a fresh new notebook. Having something new and exciting to focus on can be a positive thing.

The danger, however, is that we will then continually introduce new practices of techniques, then wonder why the effects aren’t long-lasting. Not only is this confusing, but it’s also a waste of time and resources, which could be used to practice older, surer habits. We can’t always expect to have dramatic changes in our lives or buy new ‘toys’ to keep us entertained.

To help guard against this misleading effect, my best piece of advice is to make really small changes, rather than change everything all at once.

How can you bring novelty by changing where you work?

If you are working from home all the time like me, chances are you are isolated and that might affect your performance, motivation and focus as well. Here are some examples of little changes you can make, that can offer part of the novelty effect without disrupting your routine too much:

  • Work from some other room in your house
  • Change the location of your desk in the same room
  • Hang up a new picture, poster on the wall
  • Place a new object, maybe some flowers on your desk
  • Listen to a new playlist
  • Change your clothes
  • Tidy up the clutter on your desk

My personal favourite novelty action is working from somewhere else for a change. Sometimes that’s a coffee shop, sometimes a coworking space, or sometimes just a different area of my own home.

I know it’s not always an option for everyone, depending on resources, space, and so on. It can be particularly hard for you if you need special tools to do your work, such as if you need a bigger screen, a keyboard, a sketch board, and so on.

I try to work from my favourite hotel lobby at least once a week. It gives me a reason to go out, get away from the ‘home office’, and be around others. Personally, I prefer hotels cause I can stay longer hours without disturbance, and they are usually less crowded than cafes.

I also block my calendar for a video-call-free day when I am working from outside to avoid potential noise disturbance.

If you are interested in finding a new workplace, you can check platforms like Othership to find free workspaces or day passes for professional co-working spaces. What’s more, your day can be even better if you can find a co-working buddy to meet up for the day and have some chat in between work.

Here is an additional recommended read from Leapers, showcasing some top places to work outside of your own home.

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