Whether we realize it or not, our environments have a huge impact on our mentality. Such as, what is it about coffee shops that make us feel more productive?

Many on campus head over to the Konditorei or Duos when we have an enormous stack of assignments to get done. Part of it has to do with finding where we are comfortable. This is about where we head to find our peace or a bit of solitude.

“Having colder, kind of more industrial aesthetic fits better for some people and helps them feel more focused and not get too comfortable,” Dr. Cynthia Bane, professor of psychology at Wartburg College, said. “But I think some people, if they’re experiencing anxiety about whatever it is they’re working on… if you’re in a more comforting setting that feels emotionally warmer and cozy, you feel more relaxed and allow you to calm down enough to focus on the work you’re doing.”

As a student, I need these emotionally warmer settings. The comforting smell of coffee, the warm color schemes, the quiet murmurs of conversations — these environments are so comforting to me. I’m a person who stresses pretty easily, so completing bigger assignments in these settings help with focus.

According to a research statistic found by the University of British Columbia in 2012, 70 decibels of ambient sounds influence creativity and productivity. Coincidentally, this is the noise level found in a crowded café.

“A little bit of activity that can capture your attention briefly… that often helps when you’re trying to gain new insights,” Bane said. “If you can take a brief break from that, you’ll be able to break that mental set you’ve had with whatever you were working on.”

So a little distraction is not always a bad thing. Taking time to notice the things that are happening around us as we work can sometimes inspire new ideas or different ways to look at the world.

I have a hard time focusing for long periods of time, so the occasional person coming into the coffee shop or a new song playing can provide a short mental break. There also may be a certain novelty associated with heading to a coffee shop to get work done.

The soft acoustic music, comforting aesthetics, dull murmurs of conversation, the smell of coffee — for some, this is the best possible place to be. When we do this, we are also creating an intention for the space we occupy.

“If you have taken the time to go to this specific place, it can serve as a reminder that you’re taking out time to get things done,” Bane said. “You also have a structured period of time and space you are in and I think that makes the task more salient.”

There is more to coffee shops than just lattes, they are hubs for productivity for those that do not mind a little background noise.







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