Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box. —Deepak Chopra
In a study published in Psychological Science, Angela Leung of Singapore Management University and her coauthors enacted the popular metaphor thinking “outside the box”. They created two comfortable work environments, one literally inside a box and one on the outside. Then they gave participants a test used to measure creativity. Those who worked outside the box performed better.
My first thought: well good thing I don’t work in a cubicle. My second: I kind of do. I have a great home office with loads of books, supplies, and light. But it’s still an office, with desks and walls. So I decided to work outside my box. I worked in several places: my home library, the porch, and a local coffee shop. All of them provided what I needed: a non-office space to think and write “outside the box.”
After my experiment, I remembered that many of my clients and colleagues like working outside the box, too. They found success working at parks, bookstores, and fast food joints.
The takeaway? Work somewhere other than your office. See if it helps you break out of your rut or—if you’re not in a rut—explore new levels of creativity.
Your turn. What other writing metaphors do you take literally? Do you think better on your feet—that is while walking or standing at a desk? Leave your comment below!
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