We’ve all had the experience of feeling like our daily work routine is a well-worn path that leads from home to office and back again each day. Having the same routine in the same location has some benefits but it can also stifle creativity and eventually lead to a reduction in your energy level and productivity. Sometimes working in a new location can be beneficial when you need to get more from yourself and see things in a new way.
Can travel really be the ticket? Yes, it can. And there is long-standing scientific research that supports this. The short and simple explanation starts and ends with the nature of your brain. The human brain exhibits a quality called neuroplasticity. This quality relates to how your brain is “wired.” This wiring is largely a result of your behavior and your environment—when you follow a consistent structure and routine that wiring remains consistent as well. When you change what you do, how you do it and where you do it that wiring changes and adapts to the new structures and routines. You think differently and see things in a new way. These new perspectives can, in turn, energize you and motivate you to achieve your goals.
Here are some thoughts on how a major, or even a minor change in scenery can open your mind and improve your productivity.
• Beyond the Border: If you are fortunate enough to have a career that allows you to work virtually, international travel can be just the thing you need to change your game for the better. Traveling to a different country exposes you to new sites, sounds, smells, cultures, languages and routines. Learning a foreign language—or even listening and just trying to understand—changes how you conceptualize words and information. This radical change in your environment can stimulate your brain and energize your creative thinking like nothing else. And this benefit continues even when you aren’t working because you are immersed in this new experience 24/7. Barcelona anyone?
• Trading Time Zones: If international travel is not a possibility, simply working in a different time zone can shake things up in a positive way. If you live in California, spending a few weeks in New York can get you out of your routine and experiencing new things that change your perception. The change in time—moving 3 hours ahead to east coast time—forces your brain and your body to make an adjustment. And allows you to experience things in a new way.
• Across Town: For some of us, our commitments are such that jetting off to another country or the opposite coast simply isn’t feasible. So what’s a person in search of inspiration to do? The answer is simple. Just change your environment. Take your laptop down to the beach and use the sights and sounds of the ocean as your work space. Head to a new coffee shop in a different part of town and work there. Need some peace and quiet to stimulate your senses? Check out one of the public libraries in your community. Or head to a local museum or art gallery and find a bench or a chair you can camp out on for a few hours. Any step outside your routine, no matter how big or small, will have a positive impact on your ability to think differently and boost your productivity.