The sweet, sunny days of early summer make you want to be outside: go to the beach, work in your garden, do anything that involves fresh air and being away from your desk. There’s no month like May for tempting us to be outside as often as we can. You may even feel the urge to do usually indoorsy things outside if you can swing it – like your work. And, why not? Here are some tips for working outdoors.
(Photo Credit: Luigi Mengato/Flickr)
1. A little goes a long way.
You don’t have to commit to hours at a picnic table to enjoy the benefits of spending some time working outside. It’s scientifically proven that spending time outdoors is good for you, and you only need a few minutes (even just five to 15) to feel some positive effects. So, sneak in a few minutes outside when you can. It’ll be worth it, even if it’s only for a short time.
2. Don’t bring too much.
Under normal circumstances, it’s completely reasonable to come to your workspace bearing a laptop, three yellow pads, two books, and a portfolio full of documents. But, working outside can be challenging when you’re trying to work with too many pieces. It’s better to be a little more contained. Trying bringing just two things instead, maybe a laptop and a notebook, or a file and your notes. It’ll be a lot easier to accomplish tasks while working outside if you limit the materials you’re trying to juggle.
3. Be aware of time.
It turns out that time really does fly when you’re having fun. You sit down under a lovely tree to catch up on some paperwork, and the next thing you know, two hours have passed. But, the idea of working outside is to enjoy it and heal yourself by working in a more relaxed environment, so don’t look at your watch/phone every five minutes either. Instead, try setting an alarm on your phone so that you can let go and enjoy the time – without losing track of more of it than you intended.
4. Expect your mind to wonder a bit.
It’s natural to get distracted a little when you’re outside. You might not work at the same clip in an environment where birds chirp and branches sway, but sometimes it’s good to not be super focused on achieving extreme rates of productivity. Just know going into it that this probably won’t be your most efficient time of day, and set realistic goals from the start. Allow your mind to wonder a bit when it does. That’s, at least partially, the point of this anyway!
You might think your computer screen is pretty clean, until you take it outside. It can be difficult enough to see screens in direct sunlight when they are clear; adding streakiness and fingerprints to the mix can make it really tough. Keep something in your workbag to clean your screens as needed.
Consider investing in an anti-glare screen protector for your laptop or tablet, to make the screen easier to read in sunlight. And, if you work outside fairly regularly, it might be worth it to purchase caps for your USB ports. This is also a good idea if you’re going to work somewhere like a beach where there is a good likelihood of the outdoors making its way inside your machine.
6. You don’t need a chair or a table, but you do need to establish some kind of work zone.
In order to keep all of your materials safe, clean, organized, and to be sure you don’t leave anything behind, you’re going to need to establish some type of workspace when you’re outside. Ideally, you can sit a nice table in a comfy chair,(be mindful of your back if you have to hunch over) but if you don’t have that option, just put a blanket down and work from there. Keeping all of your materials together will help keep them in good condition, and you’ll remember to take everything with you when it’s time to pack up. It’s amazing how things can get lost in the grass.
7. Bring a snack.
When you work outside, you have to bring everything that you might need with you. Be sure to have a water bottle to keep you comfortably hydrated, and bring a snack along too while you’re at it. Planning ahead, in general, is important when taking your work outdoors. Think in advance about what you need to bring with you, so that you don’t waste any time going back and forth.
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