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Like my writing colleague Bill, I recently had the good fortune of getting a new job. To arrange my things on a new desk won’t take much longer than five minutes. At work, I travel light. Possibly as an effect of getting laid off so many times, I don’t like to bring anything to work that I can’t fit in my handbag and carry out with me on a moment’s notice. I often receive compliments on how organized my desk is and admiration for my ability not to accumulate knick knacks. I don’t know, though, if this approach is helping me to reach my greatest success.

A recent story on NPR’s Morning Edition discussed the impact of place on our habits and behaviors. For example, if we get a doughnut on our way to work, whenever we approach the doughnut shop in the mornings we are likely already craving our favorite Boston Cream. The behavior, our choice to indulge in a doughnut, becomes reinforced by place – the sight of the doughnut shop. If we changed our route to work, we would likely be more successful in breaking our doughnut habit than if we took the same route and relied on our willpower alone when confronted with Boston Creams.

When I move into my desk, I think I’m going to readjust my perception of work – that I always need to be ready to walk out. I think I will bring in a wedding picture, a picture of our cats, a coffee maker, and a calendar. Maybe I’ll call my mother and ask her to send me a picture of me and my childhood friend, who is still one of my dearest friends today. I am going to change my place, leave a little more of myself at work, and hope it changes my habit of leaving myself every day I walk through the office doors.