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The science behind ideal work environments and the perfect daily routine...

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Kellogg recommends working for 1-3 hour stretches before allowing yourself a break. This is most conducive to sharp, productive work, he stresses, and touches on the importance of this form of scheduling for writers, athletes and musicians, in particular.

Physical environment:

Kellogg cites cognitive cueing as the function of a perfect study environment. He notes the ideal workspace “cultivates an environment that cues the desired behavior.” In psychology, this is referred to as ‘encoding specificity,’ a term coined by Endel Tulving and Donald M. Thomson to describe the framework for understanding how contextual information affects memory.

The encoding specificity principle argues that memory is improved when the information available during encoding is also ready for retrieval. In his book Kellogg focuses on its importance for writers, claiming that “the abstract ideas, images, plans, tentative sentences, feelings and other personal symbols that represent the knowledge needed to construct a text are associated with the place and time of the writing environment.” He points out that associations are strongest when the writer takes part in few, if any, unrelated activities within the working environment. The creative space is meant to serve as a retrieval cue for the relevant knowledge to seep into your awareness, and when this happens, ideas pop into the consciousness.

Do the challenging mental work first thing in the morning:

Carcadian rhythms are the built-in 24 hour cycles in the physiological processes of humans, animals, plants and fungi. It helps coordinate our behavior within the natural changes of the day and night cycle. Kellogg cites a study from 1985 that found intellectual tasks are best suited for the morning, whereas motor tasks work better in the afternoon. Tackling any writing or thoughtful work early in the morning is best to maintain a stride to your day. After that, any sort of physical activity is welcome, just to give yourself some mental rest.


Kellogg’s studies also show that using the bedroom as a space dedicated only for sleep maximizes the brain’s ability to enter a state of rest when it’s time for bed. He explains how our brains cue that it’s time for rest each night just by entering that environment, a strategy similar to treating insomnia.

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