Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dedicated Spaces

I am noticing a pattern - I really enjoy going somewhere specific to do something.

In the past week, I have visited my local library branch twice to work on my linear algebra homework, and both times, I was quite productive. The library just got remodeled, so it's pretty nice inside. (Unfortunately, the chairs are uncomfortable - as in, my feet don't reach the ground - but I was able to move one of the comfy sitting chairs to a table and use it instead.) There are computers there, but you have to reserve one if you want to surf the Internet, and there are no computers at the plain tables where I sit. There are virtually no distractions - just enough so that when I get bored, I can wander through the stacks for a few minutes to invigorate myself.

I am the same way about exercise. I have an annual pass to our local rec center, and going there to exercise is actually easier for me than exercising at home, or by walking around outside near my home. It's a dedicated place. It's a trip. I think I like going places to do things.

Last night, Ed and I went to Perkins (a 24-hour chain restaurant like Denny's or IHOP). We had dinner, and then pushed the plates and condiments to one side of the table while he joined me on the other. We spent the next hour or so hashing through some math that I didn't understand.

It was perfect. The flat, smooth plastic table was ideal. The restaurant was nearly empty, so I didn't feel we were stealing a table from our waitress. (I did overtip when we left.) Our drinks still got refilled. It was just much nicer than attempting the same thing at either of our homes.

I think my preferences in this respect may be the opposite of what most people want. It's not that I don't value being home. I just feel like I get more done, more easily, and with more fun, if I go to a dedicated space to work.


rvman said...

I don't know whether this is people's preference, but it is what the experts suggest for many things. Only use the bed for sleep and other bed activities, for example, don't read there, because it encourages your subconscious to think of bed as a place to lie awake, contributing to insomnia. 'They' suggest studying in an environment as similar to where the test is to be taken as possible.

S and I went to Macaroni Grill a couple of weeks ago, and while waiting for food, eating, and while she was drinking her tea, she wrote out a bunch of her stat test formulae on the tablecloth as a kind of review/confidence building session. (Macaroni Grill, for those who are unfamiliar, has paper tablecloths and leaves crayons out, so this isn't as destructive as it sounds.)

Sally said...

I love doing work at the college library, which almost seems like it was particularly designed to facilitate productivity or something. Eerie. I love the gigantamous desks for spreading out a lot of papers. I am fairly easily able to do math homework at home, but I find the library really useful for reading and doing work for my marketing classes - I find the material interesting but am more easily distracted from it.

rvman, I doubt that Bayes's Theorem was the strangest thing that has ever been written on a Macaroni Grill tablecloth, but it was fairly weird. It was surprising to me how I basically knew all the formulae I needed for the exam. Too bad I didn't learn the definition of a sample space...