How to Make the Most of Summertime During Work Hours
posted on August 12, 2019 | by Sophia Ronga
I live in Boston and, yes, it’s as cold as people say it is. Not only is it really cold, but it’s really cold for a lonnnng time (don’t get me started on the time that landed at the airport in mid-May and had to put on my puffy winter jacket). Needless to say, when the longer, warmer days do roll around, I’m excited for them and want to make the most of them.
You can ask Harvard if you must, but getting out to enjoy the summertime is extremely good for you. Higher levels of serotonin, improved memory, improved mood, lower levels of anxiety, lower blood pressure, higher ability to focus. The list goes on. Essentially, if it’s good for you, getting outside heightens it and if it’s bad for you, getting outside probably gets rid of it.
But how do you get outside when you have a 9 to 5 job that requires you to be inside? Read on to learn my tips about stealing your summertime back from the office, one outdoor meeting at a time (spoiler alert).
Eat your meals outside
For me, the easiest way to get outside is to step out of the office during my lunch break. Whether I’ve packed lunch or I’m buying, walking out of the office to pick up a meal or sit at the local park is typically my best excuse for soaking up sunshine.
Typically, I’ve found that even on my busiest days, my managers are fine if I choose to take 15 minutes to eat my sweetgreen salad on one of their patios. But if there are days when you’re convinced that you’re simply “too busy” remind yourself that just getting away from your desk for lunch at all actually makes you more engaged with your work and, in turn, makes you more productive.
Take team meetings outside
(Disclaimer: this tip does remind me a bit of when I was in high school and the “cool teacher” would let us have class outside, but hear me out). Taking meetings outside does not mean you have to sacrifice productivity for a few rays. In fact, experiencing meetings in ways that you don’t normally could lead to more creative and productive outputs. Yep, you can have your cake and eat it too.
When you’re taken out of your routine, you begin to think in different ways than you would, well, routinely. In addition, the new setting and new atmosphere may break down any barriers that could have previously led to a lower level employee holding back their latest and greatest creative juices.
I wouldn’t recommend it for every meeting. Confidential client information needs to be discussed? Probably not a good idea. Video conferencing is a necessity? Outside is not your best bet. But for meetings that call for a more casual, creative flow of ideas? In the summertime especially, it may be best to take those to the great outdoors.
Ask for flexibility in your hours
In the dead of winter, when the sun disappears at 2:34 PM, I don’t necessarily mind being inside for the next few hours. Hey, it’s not like there’s too much going on outside besides things freezing and maybe some snow falling. But in the summertime, when it’s comfortably warm and there’s a glow from your office windows for all of the day, I’m itching to get out and explore (more than just an outdoor lunch or meeting may allow).
Exploring could mean taking time during work hours to peruse local farmers markets, wander through the city’s local parks, or going for a quick run along the water. It may mean a lot of different things to different folks, but if your 9-5 gets in the way of pursuing those things, the only way to be able to do them is to change up your 9-5.
In the summer months, consider approaching your manager about changing up your hours. It’s possible that you may be able to come in an hour earlier in exchange for ensuring that from 2 to 3 in the afternoon each day you get an hour to make the most of summertime.
I’ve written extensively about asking for more flexibility in your current role and I’ve found that there are two golden rules:
-If you don’t ask, you’ll never receive. The worst thing you can be told is no. Even then you can make it a conversation. No, you cannot go for a run from 2 to 3 PM today because we have client meetings, but maybe we take it on a day by day basis. No, 2 to 3 PM won’t work, but maybe you can go from 11 AM to noon. But if you don’t ask, it never gives you a chance to have that conversation in the first place.
-More successful flexible work schedules work out because there is open communication with the employee and a manager. Your work is finished, so you’re heading out for an hour and if anyone needs you they can text you. You are swamped so you’ll probably skip the outdoors today. It’s raining so you’ll stay inside today but you admire the flexibility. Communicating any and all of these things can be the key to successfully spending more time outdoors during your workday.
Quit your job
Spend all of your time outdoors. Now you’re really taking advantage…
It’s important to spend time outdoors in all of the seasons, but in the summertime that importance and desire is heightened. Time spent out of the office does not equal unproductive time and in many cases can mean the opposite. So swipe your ID badge, head out of the office, and embrace the warmth and glow of sweet summertime. Your desk will be waiting for your return come Autumn.
How do you make the most of summertime when you have a 9 to 5? Let us know below in the comments!