I’ve been trying to figure out for years now why sitting on a train is such a productive environment when it comes to designing and writing. It has occurred to me in the past that, when I’m struggling to get something done, I’d be better off getting a ticket to somewhere – anywhere – and not getting off until the job’s done.
Obviously this doesn’t work if the train’s so crowded you have to stand. That’s why at peak times I’m happy to pay for a first class fare if it means I can concentrate properly on what I’m doing. The economic argument is straightforward: the additional cost of a first class fare v the value of a really productive work environment. In other words, think of the fare as an investment, not an expense.
Which doesn’t explain why the environment is so productive. There’s one obvious reason of course: you are at least partially protected from interruptions. Yes, you can get calls on your mobile and yes, with a good signal, you can receive emails, but somehow it seems so much easier to put these to one side and get on with the job. But there’s something more. Something about the way you are cocooned in a tight space with just your screen in front of you. Something about the motion of the train. It just works.
Of course, the same argument works for learning. A train journey is also ideal for reading, viewing, listening and interacting with learning materials, particularly on a tablet (see Why does learning content seem so much more exciting on an iPad?). And with a set of noise-reducing headphones, you really can escape into your own little world.
Three posts this morning. How come? I travelled up to London yesterday and returned just now. On the train.