I’m writing this in the local library I used to visit when I was little. I came here to work on my thesis, and I managed to get several hours worth of work done, which wouldn’t have happened if I stayed home.
There is value in getting out of your normal habitat and doing work someplace else. At home, I’m surrounded by comforts and distractions. My bed is looking for an occupant, music wants to be listened to, websites need to be surfed, books want to be flipped through, guitars that want to be played, and so on. With all of those delights around me, how could I possibly choose to work on my thesis? Answer: I can’t.
The library is not my normal habitat. The chair I’m sitting in isn’t very comfortable; it’s not my chair. The cubicle is drab and cold; it’s not my desk. The lamp is harsh and glaring; it’s not my lamp. But, a library is quiet, and I’m surrounded by knowledge.
I always had a hard time doing homework in bed. It’s too comfortable. Too relaxing. Difficult tasks in easy places don’t mix. Desk equals work. Bed equals rest/play. You wouldn’t sleep on your desk, would you? Not on purpose, anyway. Sleeping on a desk doesn’t yield high quality rest anymore than doing work in bed yields high quality work. At least, not for me.
The utilitarian nature of this library cubicle forces me to do the work. I’m not going to surf the Internet here because I can do that in style at home, not to mention I didn’t drive here for nothing.
A new habitat forces you to see things in a different way, and subsequently to think in a different way. You’re probably so used to looking at the same things in your room, you don’t even think when you look at them. But, I’ve never sat in this library cubicle before. I’ve never looked out this window. I’ve never seen this street from this point of view. I’m surrounded by encyclopedias about the Cold War, the eighties, and names. The unfamiliarity of my surroundings puts me in a mindset different from the lazy, easily distracted one I assume every day at home. That mindset energizes me and helps me get things done. What else am I going to do in this ugly little cubicle?
Sometimes, the easiest way to fight distractions is to leave them behind.