[Video] Location, Productivity, and Happiness

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Hey hey!

I did something different here with this video. Different is the wrong word. Maybe time consuming would be better. I don’t think I’ll do it this way much in the future. Too much editing. :)

Watch the video here:

If you can’t watch the video, the gist of it is the question:

How does location affect your productivity?

Bonus question: “How does location affect your feelings of happiness?”

Personally, when I’m cold (in any location) my productivity goes down considerably. As does my happiness. :)



47 COMMENTS

  1. Location DEFINITELY changes my productivity. My day to day is I’m a financial analyst, so throughout the day, my task is to analyze and problem solve. When I began working a day or two at home, I noticed that my productivity had TRIPLED! My boss & I were blown away. What I realized is that the location of my house was distraction free; no one was walking by, large copiers weren’t churning out paper, large heating systems were no longer bellowing their heat and noise…at home I literally sat down and it was GO TIME!

    For me, location is a big factor in my productivity.

  2. Well, for me works a bit the opposite when it comes to productivity. If is too warm, like usually here in Recife hehe, I cannot concentrate in doing nothing. So work from the office is good since we have powerful AC :D and if it comes to happiness, I am pretty happy enjoying winter. Its true that the longest winter I had was 3 months while living in Berlin, but it was really pleasant. I loved it! And cant wait to have more! :)

    By the way, I liked to video idea… it was good to see you! :D

    • Thanks Dea! I think a lot of people would agree with you and say when it’s too warm they can’t work. I, on the other hand, want to sweat on my keyboard.

      Berlin’s Winter, although still too cold for me, is pretty similar to where I am right now. That’s rough. :) A lot of people I’ve met who grew up in a warm place without Winter love spending time in a cold Winter. I wonder why that is. hhhmmmm…

  3. Okay, I grew up in the midwest mainly and the winters were cold. Weeks of windy subzero temperatures in the winter. I’ve done my time. Now I live in the northwest (Seattle-Tacoma metro area) and it’s much warmer on the thermometer but the frequent, dare I say constant, rain lately makes it just as cold. Not to mention, DARK. I get up, it’s dark. It’s 7am here, right now and essentially, still nighttime. I work in a building where the windows are short, tinted and 7 feet above the floor. It the sun comes out during the day, say “Hi” to it from me because I can’t see it. I drive home, takes me an hour, in the… you guessed it… DARK.

    Starting to see a pattern here?

    Productivity at this time of year I would have to say much lower than in the summer. Although, it never really gets that hot here in the summer. I cannot function well unless I am in a location that is between 76 to 78 degrees F. (min) indoors, no A/C fans blowing air around causing drafts. If I am outside, I like to be warmer still. And I like good light.

    You really struck a chord with me on this one, Karol. I gotta get myself in a position where I could just up and go to someplace like India. Especially when it is cold here. And dark.

    • Thanks Glenn. I was just reading yesterday (doing some research after I made the video, haha, got that backwards) how lack of sunlight affects mood. And mood, in turn, affects productivity. I definitely notice that for myself. It’s so cold here in Michigan that I’m not outside much. And when I do go outside it’s usually after sunset to go hang out with friends. (Maybe we’re vampires? :) )

      Good luck getting into a position where you can roam wherever you’d like. It is possible and you can do it!

      P.S. I loved Seattle for the short time I visited 2 years ago! (It was Summer.)

  4. If I am completely engaged in the task, it doesn’t matter where I am. I live in Colorado and the sun shines here 300 day a year. That helps my mood and happiness, although January is my least favorite month. I do work as an analyst to make money. I don’t enjoy very much, so I am easily distracted.

    When I write or do what I love I get totally in the zone and don’t notice the time or anything else. I had a job a few years ago that was completely wrong for me at the time. So the conditions of the office and location bothered me more. I was so hard to focus on the task and the nature of the job made me sad.

    Light does help, and nature of the work, but location, not so much.

    • “When I write or do what I love I get totally in the zone and don’t notice the time or anything else.” Awesome! The same thing happens to me, except when it’s cold I don’t bother sitting down to write or work as much. The more I think about this, the more I realize I’m just making excuses. Thanks for helping me realize that Erin!

  5. Hi Karol! I feel I can answer that now because we just had the coldest spell ever registered in FL the last two weeks! I lived here 8 years and I never felt so cold. I actually thought I never felt so cold in my life since we are not really well-equipped for warming up our bodies and homes! Luckily it’s over now and we hope it won’t happen (ever) again.
    Anyway, I am usually a very high energy, highly productive person……. during the cold days all I wanted to do was stay in bed (under every blanket I could find), drink hot-HOT tea and just do nothing!!!!!!!!!!! I’m more active when I have a flu!! LOL I usually have more ideas than time for all, but my ideas were frozen and I couldn’t sit and do anything productive. It’s been horrible! I wasted a lot of time. Now it’s warmer (70F today) so I better go and catch up on the lost days!!
    Love the video! I haven’t seen snow in person in at least a decade (or two!)
    x

    • Thanks for sharing Marina! I’ve heard from quite a few of my friends back in FL how the cold has affected them. It’s a lot more difficult when, like you mentioned, you’re not well equipped for it. Below freezing temps in FL and no thick Winter jacket? Crazy! :)

      Here’s to getting more things done right NOW!

  6. Hi Karol,

    Loved the video!! Was very cool (pun intended?) to see you. :) And YES – my environment absolutely affects my productivity. I’ve lived in the Chicago area since birth – and winters here are harsh and tiring. I can be very happy in a cafe – however that’s ONLY if I’m in one of those ‘comfy’ chairs, and if the space is draft free. One chilly breeze is all it takes to make me supercranky (oh, and cold toes… :) I’ve since learned that’s it’s TRULY important to have the right socks and winter boots – only took 36 years!)

    My day job environment is very busy, and can get incredibly loud (I work at a culinary arts school in the city) and because of this, I’ve created an oasis of sorts in my office. I don’t use the overhead flourescent lights and instead use two cozy desk lamps and a string of Christmas lights to illuminate my work. I’ve also surrounded myself with colorful photgraphs that I’ve taken, and lots of good quotes for inspiration! Everyone that comes into my space comments on how good they feel when they’re in it – (“So calm!” “So cozy!”) which makes me very happy.

    I fight my need for both social connection and quiet time, so for me, giving myself this space is probably the only reason I’ve been able to ‘hang on’ as long as I have in this stressful environment. Each day is an adventure in balance, but one that I work hard on consciously choosing. Lots of deep breaths help too.

    Thanks for this post!!! And keep warm!

    • Thank you Erika! I love that you took control of your environment and made it work for you. Much better than what I did in the video and just complained about the cold. :)

  7. I’m not happy when it’s cold or dark which means I’m also not as productive. Can’t even imagine how people plan vacations to go where it’s cold. That sounds miserable to me.

    • “Can’t even imagine how people plan vacations to go where it’s cold. That sounds miserable to me.” I feel like 50% of the population can handle cold well. :)

  8. I’ve lived in Eastern Washington for a long time, and right now I am spending a year in Montana- both places have warm summers but cold icy winters. I find that during the winter I am far more inclined to stay inside and I end up becoming very sedentary. I don’t like being cold but I have sort of grown accustomed to it, so I can do work while I’m cold but I enjoy everything more when it is warm. I love being able to sit outside on the grass on a warm night- something I don’t get to do all that often here.

    As far as being at home, my home means television, the internet, video games, etc- distractions. I am most productive when I am away from all those things. Recently I have taken to going to the library to study and read rather than staying in my room, and I am accomplishing more and getting better grades because of it.

    • Somebody I follow on twitter just today suggested getting a private study room at the library to get work done. I thought that was an astounding idea. Thanks for reinforcing that Caleb!

  9. Let me just add my voice to the others who agree that it is hard to work in unusually cold weather. We’ve just had a cold snap here in GA (like the one in FL) and it’s hard to concentrate when the weather is so far off the norm. I’ve lived in cold and hot places and I think one can adapt to working conditions when one has time to acclimate but with sudden weather, or perhaps your return to a cold climate for a visit, I think the lower brain takes up all the processing power to help one’s body physically deal with the temperature.

    Regarding location, I can only get serious work (bookkeeping, proofreading and editing) done when I am NOT near my computer. Music can be playing, people can be talking (a la coffee shops), but I cannot be near the computer to get an Internet or solitaire fix because then I cannot focus. I also like to clear my desk of all visual stimuli, too, so that I’m not distracted.

    • Yeah, I agree that if we’re forced to adapt we will adapt. I mean, I grew up in Michigan and excelled at many things despite the miserable weather. :) Thanks for sharing Noelle!

  10. Personally, location to me involves the relationships (i.e. distractions) that come with the location. For instance, when I go to where I grew up, I can never get a thing done. I always have to meet up with old friends, spend quality time with family, visit family that I don’t even like, and eat at the old places I loved growing up. So obviously, I get nothing done.

    Interestingly enough, I have found that even if I am just somewhere with my wife and we are relaxing with nothing to do, so at a beach or a cabin in the woods, I still can’t get anything done. My wife and our relationship is the distraction. So I am forced to work while in bed late at night, often times when I am not feeling particularly creative or productive.

    In summation, for me the location has everything to do with the relationships and obligations that you have to cater to while there.

    • Interesting points Marc. I can understand how relationships affect productivity although it’s not a problem for me right now. Even though I’m back where I grew up it’s pretty easy to not let that distract me. Most of my friends/family work during the day.

  11. Dude, if I walked around my old stomping grounds by myself with a video camera in tow and there were kids frolicking around in the snow, I’d have the pedophile stamp on my forehead so fast!

    Three words: seasonal affective disorder. It sucks – all sleep, no energy, constantly cold, cravings for sweets and weight gain – just a few of the symptoms besides being unproductive. Not to mention how fun it is to go for a run on a snow covered sidewalk with sub zero winds slamming you…

    Of course, for us vegans it must be because we don’t eat meat, right?

    Take us all to India with you!

    • haha…I actually thought about that for a second. A few old people were staring at me and the Police station is right next to the park. But then I realized I was overreacting and kept filming.

      I’ve heard lots of talk of S.A.D. I don’t buy into it. Except when it stands for Standard American Diet. ;) It’s just a way to sell more drugs and doctor’s visits.

      Lots of people do blame veganism whenever a vegan has any sort of issue with anything, don’t they? Oh, you’re cold? Must be because you don’t eat meat. Ahh, your foot hurts? It’s probably because you don’t eat meat. Sleepy? I’ll bet it’s because you don’t eat meat. hehe

  12. Hey Karol!

    I’m in Ontario, Canada here. So I can totally relate. I think snow is great when you are a kid. There is nothing funner than playing in 2 feet of snow. I used to love winter time and snow. Not so much anymore. I also realize I don’t do anywhere near the amount of winter activities that I used to. I haven’t been skiing, skating, sledding (with a GT racer, the good old days) haha. I haven’t even made a snowman in years. Do you think your amount of enjoyment from a certain season or location depends on your attitude towards it?

    I have considered the possibilities. Instead of hating winter and all things cold, I’m wondering if I should (while living here) embrace the winter time and make the most out of it. Especially if that includes enjoying winter activities.

    Someone also already touched on this point, but for me personally, I find the lack of daylight astounding. That is one thing I dislike immensely. In the winter you are lucky to get 10-12 hours of solid day light. Most of the time it is overcast.

    I have come to LOVE the summer time and the heat especially. I think I was born on the wrong continent. There is no such thing as too hot! Bring on the sweltering heat. I love it. The summers here are awesome, but really short. Too short! You’re lucky if you get 2 or 3 months of solid sun. July and August primarily. One part of me wishes it was summer all the time, and another part of me thinks its nice to have a change of the seasons that way I can appreciate the heat all the more when it is here. As opposed to winter time that seems to last for 6 months of the bleeping year! If I had to choose, I would pick snow/winter over constant cold and rain.

    And just an observation, I can tell you people around here are MUCH more friendlier and seemingly happier in the spring and summer time in comparison to the colder, darker times of the year.

    Just FYI, this must be my geeky side emerging, but I was curious to see how colder temperatures in Fahrenheit compare to Celsius.

    Apparently C and F become the same at -40.

    Here’s hoping for an early spring!

    • “Do you think your amount of enjoyment from a certain season or location depends on your attitude towards it?” Yes, I do. A negative attitude doesn’t make dealing with miserable weather better at all. :)

      It has been in the 20s Fahrenheit…around -5 Celsius.

      Thanks for commenting Kevin!

    • I wrote an article called Why I Quit Traveling about a month ago that, although not specifically mentioned, deals with these issues. Being on the move regularly makes it difficult to have any sort of routine and it’s also physically and mentally draining. That’s why my new travel strategy is to stay in any place I go to for at least a month. Exceptions are transition periods (example: I’m flying into Mumbai and staying for a few days before going to Goa) and places I don’t like.

  13. Hey Karol! I totally agree with your point about productivity. For me, the worst condition is extreme heat and humidity. I currently live in Iowa and absolutely loathe July and August. I feel sluggish, rarely go outside during the day, but start to feel trapped inside with the air conditioning. When I lived in the Northwest, summers were amazing but the dark rainy winter really got me down. I began to crave sunlight like a drug. I surrounded myself with colors like hot pink and orange and ate lots of spicy food. I don’t mind the Midwest winter as much as you do, and actually enjoy snow, but if it’s too cold to do outdoor activities comfortably with a reasonable amount of winter clothing, then that’s too cold for me (think single digits, like last week).
    I enjoy the weather in places like Colorado and northern New Mexico-four seasons, thunderstorms, sun, and snow. I guess I don’t care for extremes, and prefer dry to wet/humid. Great post! Weather is something people tell you to suck up, like not being a morning person. I say, why suffer? Location is one of many things that can have a huge effect on happiness and productivity.

    • Thanks Brandi, you hit it on the head with “I say, why suffer?” Just another reason I’m going to help 100 people achieve Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom. With Freedom, there is no need for us to stay in places we’re uncomfortable with.

      P.S. I love hot hot heat and humidity. :)

  14. Hi Karol,

    Love your blog, and I’ve been enjoying reading it for some time now, though this is the first time I’ve commented.

    How serendipitous this entry is! All week I’ve been struggling to figure out why I moved back home to NYC, as I’ve had such trouble getting out from beneath the warm blankets each morning. I am residing in a gorgeous landmark home…that is unbelievably drafty, which detracts from its beauty.

    I spent much of my time traveling the globe in ’08, and managed to be in mostly spring or fall-like weather with the exception of time in Sweden. It was unintentional, but in retrospect, I realize that in many ways those were some of the most productive days of my life. Now that I can contrast this with living back in my hometown again, I’m realizing that I need comfortable weather and sunlight to be at my functional best.

    I had made a detour to more southern US locations for a time, and I suppose that I needed the sudden contrast of a cold winter to drive this home. I’m an author and have a comfortable level of location independence, but I also have children who are readying themselves for college, and are craving some permanence for awhile (I homeschooled them, and they are tired of traveling, are longing for more time in one place to figure life out, thus the return to my hometown). Well, they say they are, when not talking of perhaps backpacking through Europe next summer :-)

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say hi, and express my gratitude for the site in general, and the well-timed video post as well, as it served to reinforce exactly the thoughts in my own mind these days. I think that once my kids figure life out a bit more, I’m going to begin to plan a new phase for myself (I became a mom when quite young, and now they are about to fly the nest, leaving me in a position to re-invent my life in a way that holds some fascinating potential). I believe that ensuring I am in climates that support my happiness and productivity is going to be at the top of my life, though it may involve a lot of travel that is focused on sun-chasing :-)

    Thanks again, Karol!

    Create an amazing day for yourself!
    ~Laura

    • Hi Laura,

      Thank you for your kind words and for commenting.

      I obviously don’t know what it’s like with kids, but I can see them wanting to stay in one place for a while during the transition period to University.

      “leaving me in a position to re-invent my life in a way that holds some fascinating potential” That sounds fantastic!

      “I believe that ensuring I am in climates that support my happiness and productivity is going to be at the top of my life, though it may involve a lot of travel that is focused on sun-chasing.” hehe, in my How To Travel Light article I stated how I won’t travel to cold places. Of course, I broke that rule by staying in Michigan on this US stopover. All in all, it’s a great plan though. :)

      Thank you again!
      Karol

      • Hi Karol,

        First, we all tend to break our own rules when it comes to visiting family and friends. A little bit of cold is a small price to pay, ultimately, for some time with loved ones. Within reason ;-)

        You haven’t traveled with kids, but I think your readers should know it can create an amazing life experience for them, and create extraordinary bonding opportunities. Our travel was more in terms of relocating a lot….we would live somewhere for many months or a year or so, then move on. It provided some stability for them, while affording them the ability to explore different regions. However, when they were 13 and 14, we put all our belongings in storage and spent almost 6 months driving/camping our way throughout the continental US. I believe that it is because of that trip that they possess an unusually good understanding of US history, politics, and geography. No better way to learn than by doing. As I was a single mom, everyone told me the trip was insane, dangerous, etc. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and we made friends along the journey who still remain in touch with us today.

        Now, as for not traveling to cold places, some of them ARE worth passing through….if timed correctly, and you just want to see/experience them for a bit. But I have learned (the hard way) that planning is the key to making such adventures a positive experience. Planning in terms of choosing to explore such reasons when don’t have many work demands, and by not putting too much expectation on yourself to perform when there (for instance, I had a book deadline bearing down on me when I was in Sweden in the middle of winter. It was the one and only work deadline I have ever missed, and I am certain it was due to the climate. Btw, I otherwise LOVE Sweden. Just, winter was rough, at least when I was there).

        Karol, I’d love to ask you some questions about WordPress. I have decided to launch a project for parents struggling with issues related to raising kids with ADD/ADHD as a completely free program (I walked away from a pretty big ‘deal,’ financially, in order to do so, because I think it needs to be available to all, rather than priced out of reach for people who could benefit from it). However, I’m new to blogging, and am having a bit of trouble with wordpress….any advice on tutorials, etc?

        Thanks!
        Laura

        • Good that you didn’t listen to the naysayers. They don’t know what they’re talking about at least 99.99999% of the time. :)

          “Btw, I otherwise LOVE Sweden. Just, winter was rough, at least when I was there.” That’s how I felt about Germany when I was there last Winter. Loved it, but it was rough. :)

          As for WordPress: the beauty of it is, since it’s free, there are tons of free tutorials out there. Start here: http://shannonalbert.me/2009/06/26/how-to-have-a-professional-blog-without-hiring-anyone/

          • “Good that you didn’t listen to the naysayers. They don’t know what they’re talking about at least 99.99999% of the time. :)”

            Exactly :-) Imagine all I would’ve missed, had I listened to others. I think it is amazing that you are encouraging people to live ridiculously extraordinary lives, Karol. I try to do the same, in my own way (check out http://www.LauraSaba.com, for instance). But I love your style.

            ““Btw, I otherwise LOVE Sweden. Just, winter was rough, at least when I was there.” That’s how I felt about Germany when I was there last Winter. Loved it, but it was rough. :)”

            Yup. I intend to get back to Sweden in the Spring or Summer, though…looking forward to it, actually. Love countries where they use bicycles more than automobiles.

            Anyhow, thank you SO much for the links. I really appreciate the help.

  15. This is my whimsical explanation of my productivity levels….

    If it is cold…I am not productive

    If it is hot outside, I am either working out or partying with friends (aka not productive)

    If it is temperate…I am probably still not being productive

    Productivity is a major problem for me. Once I start an article or something, I can usually write forever. But that initial paragraph is killer.

    With that said, if it is cold, I don’t seem to accomplish anything in life other than browsing digg and watching football (Today actually).

    I am with you Karol. The warmer I am, the higher chance of procutivity there will be.

    David Damron
    TMP & LE

    • Thanks for sharing Dave.

      Interestingly, since posting this and realizing I was being a whiny baby I’ve been hella productive. Maybe not as much as if I was warm and comfortable, but definitely more than I had been.

  16. I’m with you on this subject…. we’ve had snow and freezing here for the last couple of weeks as well.. plus, being pretty north in the hemisphere, days can get incredibly short in winter. (Made up, of course, with incredibly longggg daylight in summer)

    I guess my body’s just wired to think: “Cold + darkness = SLEEP!”
    I have no trouble getting up at 5:30 am in the summer, but in the winter…. a completely different story.. ;)

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  17. Yo Karol,

    Cold doesn’t bother me and I prefer it a little cool.

    I don’t think the heat stifles my productivity either, but being home does.

    I work better alone and quiet versus around people and noise.

    I’m a people watcher, which has made me a very successful salesman, but it kills product creation for me.

    Now that Ive given up those secrets, how about you giving some up too.

    What camera do you use? No external mic? Sound was pretty good for a built in mic.

    What settings did you record at? 360?

    Thanks for letting us see some of your old stomping grounds!

    Now go get warm in India!

    • Hey Mike,

      Thanks for sharing. :)

      I used a 2 year old Flip Ultra. No idea about settings. It just works, like some products do. :) Just upgraded to Flip UltraHD so quality should be better.

      Karol

      • Thanks for the info Karol.

        I’m finding that I’m more productive with, in this order:

        1) Audio
        2) Screencapture Video
        3) Written Text

        I’ve also determined that I’m best with an outline on index cards, of all things and talking off the cuff, not written scripts, which sound horrendous.

        How about you?

        • I haven’t done enough audio/video stuff to really make a good determination. I’ll have more of it coming up though. My videos so far have come from articles that I didn’t post and instead videoed. :) Usually done in 1-2 takes talking off the cuff.

  18. Hey Karol.

    I’ve tested location with productivity and happiness. Drove 2,000 miles and stopped some place for less than a week to see if it worked out for me.

    It didn’t.

    I drove away from the place where I resigned my job only to find myself back where I started.

    This was a great test for me because I found out some things about myself which are similar and different from other people.

    Location doesn’t matter to me too much. I rushed back 2,000 miles across the country (after finishing all my required tasks in the first place I drove) for a relationship.

    I’m now typing away on my brothers couch and getting things done because of my desire to provide for this relationship.

    I would say I’m most productive when I have something to work for, while it is not always a relationship, it can be my own personal desire to be free or whatever.

    Though I’ll say location does matter somewhat which is why I’m looking for a room in a nearby city. Cold matters too, I usually sit around in a t-shirt and shorts during winters (Arizona native).

    Good video Karol.

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