(a) I was sharing a room with graduate students and I was motivated by rubbing elbows with hard-working people.
(b) I spent two weeks thinking about a single problem.
(c) I felt at ease wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a hoodie to go to work.
(d) Seeing old friends and being in my undergraduate department brought me memories of the “good old times”.
(e) All of the above.
This whole experience made me think of a related topic. Everyone has their productivity trigger. Some little thing that you do that improves your performance, or some place to which you go that awakens the genius inside you. When I was an undergrad student, I remember spending long hours on my way to and from school (long walk + bus ride) thinking about homework problems. Often, my best ideas would come to me during the commute. Later in life, I gathered more substantial evidence that good ideas come to me when I think about a problem as I walk (increased blood flow to the brain?). I should do that more often.
I wonder if anyone out there has a quirk of this sort. What is it that you do that fuels your creative mind? I’m willing to try new methods!