Sitting on the front row

When I was in school, this was a small daily choice. Plenty of open seats in the classroom, where do you sit?

I’m sure some people assigned meaning to certain spots in the room. They held stereotypes about troublemakers in the back row and teacher’s pets in the front. Others (like myself) didn’t think much about it.

All things considered, seats don’t matter too much. You get the same lecture whether you’re in the front or the back. But looking at a room from a design perspective, sitting on the front row forces you to be more committed.

You’re more committed because you’re more visible. If you pull our your phone and start texting, the teacher will see you. If you drift off to sleep and start nodding, your peers behind you will see you. You can’t leave without being noticed. Now you can still do these things (guilty, here) but it comes at a higher social cost.

When I realized this, I recognized sitting on the front row as a life hack. It was a design decision that allows pre-lecture Bryan to trick the middle-of-lecture Bryan into getting more out of class. I started doing it all the time. I still do it. At my last job, when I got to pick my office workstation, I picked one where the computer screen was visible to people walking by. That adds a subtle pressure to spend less time on distracting websites.

If you’re going to be in class, be in class. If you’re going to be at home, be at home. Life’s better when you’re committed, so I try to find ways to “sit on the front row” wherever I happen to be.