Creative Noise

By Rabbi Joel Wardinger

In an effort to further develop Steve’s productivity-enhancing strategies, I thought that I would make a plug for Starbuck’s. I must tell you that over the years that I was living in Israel, my family and I would always come back to Toronto for a 3 week summer visit. There were two main reasons we came for our annual visit. Number 1: Family. Number 2: Starbucks. (Note: I do not work for Starbucks). I just love the coffee and the creative atmosphere that Starbucks provides. I took one day last week at a Starbucks and I accomplished so much. Shlomo was at a different Starbucks that day and was singing the praises of the place, lauding its productive and creative powers.

Serendipitously, that same day these 2 articles came out http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/study-of-the-day-why-crowded-coffee-shops-fire-up-your-creativity/258742/, http://business.time.com/2012/06/21/need-to-brainstorm-head-to-starbucks/. These articles report a study that found that “While a relatively quiet environment may make it easier to, say, plow through a book, a noisy environment can induce a certain degree of “disfluency” or “processing difficulty,” which can disrupt your normal way of thinking in such a way that it actually enhances the sort of abstract thinking that can spur real creativity.”

Reading these articles, I am reminded of the “Kol Torah” of the study hall. The great Yeshivas all feature a Beit Midrash (study hall) where you might find hundreds of people all learning aloud with a chavrusa (study partner), working through a piece of Talmud or some other vexing text. For a quick peek at the study hall that became my home in Jerusalem, see the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENXP9HEul98&feature=plcp&context=C32b6f28UDOEgsToPDskIqA-KRPrFrwvgf7Xkqclu-

Hmmm… something about that noise just gets our minds working… see you at Starbucks! Or at the local Beit Midrash!

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