Need to Think? Go Outside

Where do you do your best thinking?  While taking a shower?  While driving?  Or maybe you do you best thinking while relaxing before bed.

Have you ever said “I need to take a walk to clear my head”?

Based on a new study, there may be some science to support the idea that you do your best thinking outdoors.

Researchers examined the carbon dioxide level inside various rooms and compared those to decision making performance.  The results showed that in rooms with a higher level of carbon dioxide concentration, decision making was impaired.

Given that we exhale carbon dioxide, imagine the impact of the gas in a window-less meeting room where a group of individuals are conducting a brainstorming session.  Definitely not ideal.

So, next time you need to make a decision or do some deep critical thinking, take a walk and get some fresh air. You might gain some perspective and boost your brain’s performance.


Learn more about how Critical Thinking and Creativity are related in this white paper.

Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.

2 responses to “Need to Think? Go Outside”

  1. Chad Fife

    How about an outside shower? Even better!

  2. Lynn Ferguson-Pinet

    Nice post, I find most people would likely agree but giving scientific evidence to support that its worth taking the time might be enough to push them to actually take the extra 20 minutes to get outside during a break.

    I also believe the other critical element is you have “changed the scenery” which can open up creativity. I was recently conducting a workshop and an alarm went off and I took the group outside to a court yard out of necessity but an interesting thing happened, I believe the group was more open to the discussion after we moved outside.


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