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13 Jun

Shed no tears for rainy days

Datum: 2017-06-13 10:35

There are so many fac­tors influ­enc­ing how eas­i­ly we get things done — that much has been made clear to me over the years. How our office is designed, whether or not we get to tick things off” our list often, how green the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ment is where we work, how often we are inter­rupt­ed by sounds and move­ment (and col­leagues!) around us, and more, all influ­ence our state of mind and being. Even the weath­er has an effect on how we feel and work.

The Har­vard researchers Lee, Gino and Staats asked 198 peo­ple pri­or to a study how they thought the weath­er influ­ences our pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Over 80% of the peo­ple asked believed that nice weath­er would increase the pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and that rainy or bad weath­er would reduce it. They were wrong.

Think of rain
The study that fol­lowed this ini­tial ques­tion, in which 598 393 tasks com­plet­ed by 111 peo­ple dur­ing 2,5 years were ana­lyzed, showed that the com­plete oppo­site was true. When the weath­er con­di­tions were bad, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty increased. 

Why? Well, the researchers inter­pret­ed their results to indi­cate that when the weath­er out­side is nice, we dis­tract our­selves by think­ing of the alter­na­tive activ­i­ties we could be doing instead of work­ing. When it is pour­ing out­side, we have no such thoughts. Then we work. Period.

Do this
How can we use this result to our advan­tage? At least in two ways, if you ask me.

  • When the weath­er fore­cast pre­dicts bad weath­er, we can fill our sched­ule with a few extra tasks that need to be done, since we know that it will be eas­i­er to focus on our work and get things done.

  • When we know that the weath­er will be nice, we can brace our­selves and exert a bit more effort to get today’s tasks done. Per­haps it is a good idea to make our­selves unavail­able to oth­ers dur­ing these days, so that we can work with­out being inter­rupt­ed and main­tain the focus we have man­aged to muster?

Instead of check­ing the weath­er fore­cast every five min­utes, let the automat­ing ser­vice IFTTT​.com email and tell you if rain is expect­ed for tomor­row. You cre­ate recipes in the ser­vice that takes care of keep­ing an eye at the skies. It is easy; I did it in less than a minute (since IFTTT helped me with that as well).

Opti­mize your days
If you take advan­tage of the myth-bust­ing result from the study and adapt how you plan your days accord­ing to the weath­er, not only will you be assist­ed by the weath­er gods in get­ting things done, but you will also be proac­tive in plan­ning your time so that you do not lose any of it due to the weath­er being unfa­vor­able (mean­ing, nice and call­ing for you to do outside).

What’s your rain dance like?
Does your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty peak when the skies are grey as well? Or, is your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty sub­ject to some oth­er influ­enc­ing fac­tor than the weath­er? Feel free to share in a comment.