DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE READ, ONE SIZE, ONE SOLUTION, AND ONE RESEARCH STUDY DOES NOT FIT ALL. 

At Corgan, we’ve been engaged in a year-long conversation about this issue with The Brain Performance Institute, an offshoot of the University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for Brain Health, focused on unlocking the potential of our brains. The science tells us that most of us need quiet to focus on tasks that require deep thinking. The science also says that 45 minutes is the maximum amount of time our brains can do this type of thinking at its highest level. It also says, we lose focus in meetings after 20 minutes! Tasks that are more rote or require less focus may benefit from being done with more stimulus. Ultimately, our brains need time to recover and reset between bouts of deep thinking—the kind of thinking that leads to innovation and new ideas.

Jennifer Zientz, head of clinical services for the institute explains: “While the science is helping us to understand environmental conditions for optimal performance, the truth is that we are currently working with the brain we’ve built. It may be surprising, but much of the way we function in the modern workplace is toxic to our brain health, and this translates to a cost on our performance.” Having a choice of space dependent on type of task may help to mitigate negative effects.

Think about your typical work day. You have email to answer, a spreadsheet to enter some data into, you grab coffee, work on a complex project, attend a few meetings (longer than 20 minutes, I feel sure), eat some salmon (brain healthy), look at Instagram (admit it), take a quick walk, and finally, more email. Should you do it all in one place, and if you did, would it optimize your performance?

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D Magazine > 2019 > May