· 3 min read

Emotional Spaces (& Productivity)

The other day I was on a stroll and as I crossed the bridge, I suddenly thought of this podcast with Dr. Huberman.

This was exactly what I’d been listening to when I walked across that same bridge a day before.

We humans have an uncanny ability to remember environments.

We link memories and emotions to spaces. We don’t even notice it but those are very strong bonds.

(This is why the method of Loci works so well if you want to remember something.)

I’m sure this has happened to you: some song plays, or you pick up some smell, and…

Flashback effect! (with the wavy visuals and twinkle sounds, you know)

You’re just teleported back to that memory.
It hits like a brick.
And for a second you just…freeze.


This affects you every hour of every day.

But most people aren’t conscious about this.

  • They play their favorite party music when working…do you really want to mix up those memories? Thinking about partying at work, thinking about work when partying?
  • They turn on all their lights in the evening…do you really want to feel like it’s daytime when you’re about to go sleep?
  • They put on their noise cancelling headphones when out on a walk…what’s the point of going into nature when you block it all out?

So let me give you some principles of how I think about this.

Music’s emotions.

Most of us listen to music through a large portion of the day.

So pay some attention for a minute and ask: what’s the emotion created by these songs?

Are they sad, highly energetic, melancholic, inspiring, strong or soft?

Then, ask: is that emotion going to support me in what I’m doing right now?

I just switched from some house music (Spotify’s Lowkey Tech playlist) to a calm, inspiring cinematic playlist I built—because I felt I needed that to write better right now.

Music’s presence.

Some music is very present—it’s really meant to capture your attention. It’s interesting to listen, maybe you want to sing along or dance to it.

Don’t play that when you’re sitting down and doing some focused work.

You’ll be training the excitement away, and you’re hindering your ability to work.

On the other side of the spectrum there’s music like on brain.fm. It’s designed to kind of disappear into the background—so there’s still something but it’s really meant to still give your own thoughts room to be present.

Physical location.

Don’t work in your bedroom.

It’s meant to sleep (and to none-of-your-business 😉 ).

Types of locations.

We know from research that large, open spaces with high ceilings help you be more creative.

On the other hand, just grinding through some work is better in a dark, small room with some noise cancelling headphones on.

Cleanliness and rituals.

Trust me, a clean desk helps.

Even the ritual of cleaning up before a serious work session helps.

Just like the act of commuting gives your mind time to “transition into work mode.”

I’ll stop here for now so you can get back to it :)

Go crush it, with love. 🚀❤️


    Don't miss the next ones

    Get these e-mails straight to your inbox

    Back to Blog