I don’t know about you, but on rainy days, my mood tends to be gloomy. In general, it tends to go as the weather goes. As a result, my productivity sort of decreases. Today was one of those days. It was raining pretty hard at five in the morning when I woke up, and even if it only drizzled a couple of times the rest of the day, the sky stayed covered with dark, ominous clouds. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love a stormy day -when I'm safely at home, of course- but the reality is that on those days I tend to slack.
I spent my morning and early afternoon engaged in phone calls and video meetings. A productive morning it was. After lunch, I had no deadlines to meet; except for the ones I had set for myself. Which meant that I had to push myself to do what I needed to do. According to my planner, I had a busy afternoon. Yet, I felt like sitting on my favorite corner of the black leather sofa by the fireplace (this is Houston, the fireplace would have been just for drama) with a novel and a cup hot ginger tea, reading until dinner time. But what about my duties? Suddenly, this thought crossed my mind: "Who cares? I can do all this tomorrow, nobody will notice." Technically true.
The thing is that I would notice. I knew that during my reflection time later at night, I would be frustrated and disappointed in myself for not having finished what I was set to do that day. Even worse, the following day, I would need to finish two days’ worth of work (more like a day and a half, but still.) Definitely not my modus operandi!
What should I do then?
It’s funny when you feel two competing forces pulling you in opposite directions inside your head. On one side, a little red devil with its short legs dangling from my left shoulder was murmuring convincingly, “Come on! You know nothing really terrible is going to happen if you take the afternoon off once.” He was right, really, what could happen? On the other side, a gold-winged angel hovering over my right shoulder was reminding me that I had already taken an afternoon off this week. "You did take the afternoon off to watch the Houston Astros play the Yankees in the ALCS yesterday, didn't you? Two consecutive afternoons off? Are you sure?” It was right. I had taken the previous afternoon off to watch the game, but at least that was an intentional, scheduled, decision, not a mood-driven decision. After all, the playoffs happen only once a year, and the Houston Astros playing in the ALCS is a relatively recent occurrence; hence, I had to watch the game. Anything different would have been considered disloyal to my home team, don’t you think?
Well, I had to make a decision. I decided on something I recommend ofter; something that works like a charm for me: go to a different location. Right then and there, I packed my laptop and drove to a nearby Starbucks. It was around 3:30pm. All the small tables were taken, so I put my stuff on one of those larger ones shared by people focused on their own thoughts, wearing tiny earbuds, and staring intently at their screens. I ordered my favorite hot tea and set up to work. Surrounded by other hard-working people, I already felt more proactive and ready to tackle my work. First, I completed lesson 25 from a self-paced course I’m taking. Next, I read posts from four of my favorite bloggers, and finally, I checked my inbox. From time to time, I exchanged several WhatsApp messages with my Wellness for Growth Foundation co-volunteers about a fundraising event we're organizing. The next time I saw my watch, it was 6:30pm already. I felt accomplished!
By relocating to a place different from your usual workplace, your productivity can improve substantially. I am lucky enough to work from my home office, with a lovely view and everything I need. Yet working from there day in and day out can be monotonous. Working from a library or coffee shop once in a while breaks the routine stimulating creativity. Sometimes, even working from a different place in the house or office can be beneficial.
Tonight I was about to turn off my computer when the idea for this post popped in my head. I put the laptop back on the kitchen table and started typing what supposedly was a couple of lines -so I wouldn't forget them. Several minutes later, my post was over 800 words long -editing not included. This would never have happened on a rainy day like today working from my desk.
Consider breaking your working routine once in a while and see what effect it has on your productivity. Chances are it will be a positive change.
What are your tricks for when you have to work yet don't really feel like it? Does the weather affect your mood in any way? Share your thoughts below!