Work Smarter//

This Simple Move Will Dramatically Improve Your Brainpower at Work

A new study shows that shuffling seats at work boosts creativity. Plus, two other easy ways to spark new ideas.

Photo credit: Ong Story/Getty Images
Photo credit: Ong Story/Getty Images

Our busy lives move at such a fast clip that we may sometimes feel that we’re missing out on opportunities to maximize our ample brainpower. It’s true that finding moments of solitude and quiet contemplation can help achieve that goal, but during a busy workday, that may also feel impractical. Happily, plenty of science suggests that we can successfully boost our creativity by merely making the smallest changes to our daily habits.

Work these three practices into your life at the office, and watch your imagination soar.

Stand up and walk

If you work at a company outfitted with standing desks, take advantage. Research suggests that you may have a creative edge by working on your feet, especially while working in groups. A 2014 study found that 54 teams of non-sedentary individuals shared information and worked more collaboratively together to solve problems. If you don’t have a standing desk, try taking a little walk inside or outside with your team — research suggests that helps fire up your imagination.

Play musical chairs at work

Switching up the scenery by sitting somewhere in the office that you don’t normally can give you a fresh perspective and get your creative juices flowing, especially if you take the opportunity to chat with colleagues you don’t often see. Steve Jobs famously made the bathrooms at Pixar’s headquarters far removed from all wings of the company so employees would get to mingle on their way and embark on creative collaborations — and a new study published in Organization Science proves he was onto something. Researchers from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University found that mixing up employees’ seating arrangements encouraged new interaction, exploration, risk-taking, and experimentation that resulted in innovative product ideas. The next time you find yourself sitting next to a co-worker you rarely engage with, mention some of your ideas to them.

Write it down

Several famous writers — J.K. Rowling, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Danielle Steel, to name a few — still compose their greatest works by hand, writing with a pen and paper rather than on a computer, and science suggests their creative output benefits from it. A 2012 study showed that writing versus typing improves cognition. With that in mind, try putting your next big idea on paper to jumpstart your creativity.

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