In Toronto, where I live, we endure weather extremes. From a wicked ice storm at the end of April to a week of heat alerts just two months later. With that, I know we are not alone in feeling the urge to take advantage of gorgeous weather. When it’s nice outside, it can be harder than ever to feel motivated and stay focused on work. We may also have purposeful goals to accomplish during these weeks and find it hard to fight the pull to be outdoors.
So, what can we do?
Have a listen to this interview in which I chatted with Rubina Ahmed-Haq for CBC Radio. You’ll hear some interesting perspectives from folks on the street.
Here are some simple strategies you can employ to get the important things done this summer:
1. Plan Your Play
Take some time to craft plans to be outside and enjoy the summer, whether it be festivals in the city, an evening on a patio or a weekend getaway. If you’ve made plans you can look forward to and enjoy, it can help you keep focus knowing you will be having fun. And when you’re off work, really be off work. Your mind will be more refreshed and ready to contribute when you return.
2. Keep it Comfortable
It’s wonderful to have a breezy office, but as soon as the humidity builds, it’s time to put on the air conditioning to preserve your cognitive function. Simple tasks are less negatively affected by heat and humidity than complex tasks, so choose wisely if you can’t control the heat. If you’re in an over air-conditioned space, use layers to keep warm, so when you’re in the right clothes when you do get outside. Ideally, your office will be between 17 – 23 degrees.
3. Take Your Work Outside
Take a close look at your tasks and identify which might be done outside. Read on a bench in a nearby church, voice record while walking through a park, or have walking meetings. Even look at parking further away and adding some walk time to your commute. Make your lunch a picnic. Schedule a networking lunch on a patio.
4. Shift Your Schedule
Mix up your routines to enable more time outside. I parked my gym membership until October and now do yoga either on my balcony or at the beach. Evening walks outside after dinner are a must. Get out for a run or walk in the cooler mornings, and work inside in the hot afternoons. Caveat – most Canadians (60-70%) are low in Vitamin D, so do make some time for safe sun exposure when the sun is high in the sky.
5. Play Beat the Clock
Commit to an early stop-work deadline each day and let the adrenaline flow to help you beat the clock. Structure your day with a mix of focused and engaged time.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Regular meditation is a focus exercise for the brain. Practicing builds the focus muscle. Get clear on your intentions and articulate those in your calendar (your daily road map). Then simply apply your focused mind. If getting stuck, use a sticky note on your computer (paper or virtual) to remind you of the task you’ve committed to. I recommend creating a Focused Five™ list of the top things you wish to accomplish in a day, and keeping that in front of you to help you stay on track. If you’re still not motivated, check in with your “why?” Perhaps there is a bigger question to answer.
7. Stay Fueled with Healthy Food
Watch your intake of food and drink that sabotages your ability to think clearly. Stay hydrated (watch out for caffeine and alcohol) and avoid low nutrient foods that are perhaps filling but only provide a sugar rush…and eventual crash.
8. Take Smart Vacations
Plan carefully so you are not exhausted upon your return. Taking a day to land, unpack, and get settled is a wise investment and will help you get back in the spirit to contribute at work.
Heat and Humidity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4701920/ National Centre for Biotechnology Information
Vitamin D – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/statscan-finds-widespread-vitamin-d-deficiency-in-canadians/article596998/