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.
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.