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Architecture and Work

Want to think big, abstract thoughts? Try sitting in a building that has high ceilings. Have to focus on detailed work? Maybe you should be in an office with lower ceilings. That is according to Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. Her concepts are part of an article How Room Design Affect Your Work and Mood in Scientific American. “Ceiling height affects the way you process information,” Meyers-Levy says. “You’re focusing on the specific details in the lower-ceiling condition.”

Another interesting concept covered in this article is the affect that natural surroundings have on people, especially children. The article cites a study by environmental psychologist Nancy Wells that found that children who moved with their family to a home with more views of natural settings, such as a garden, field or forest, made the most gains on a attention test. Another study from the University of Illinois found similar results in children with attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week has an indoor garden that his office overlooks.  He uses this space for relaxing, inspiration, and taping episodes of Random with Kevin Rose, founder of Digg. Perhaps the next time you are struggling with a task, whether that’s balancing your checkbook, coding your latest feature, or coming up with a brand new business idea, stop and consider the environment that you are working in and how it might be affecting you.