Working On A Beautiful Spring Day


It’s been cold in DC for the last few weeks.  Not just chilly, but bone-biting, wind-driving, snow-piling cold.  The bulk of people in the city have spent their time hiding indoors, layering like they live in the North Pole, and Ubering places they could easily have walked.  I Ubered 4 blocks the other day.  It was embarrassing.

Not anymore, though.  The sun came out this weekend, we hit the mid-60s, and people have been running around like it’s the middle of summer.  All anyone wants to do is join in the outdoor fun, but what if we have too much work to get done? (Yes I know that rhymed.  No I didn’t do it on purpose.  Yes it was still awesome.)

On days like this, when warm weather is still fresh and novel, it’s important to take advantage of what you can.  It’s important to get outside.  It’s important to breathe the fresh air.  It’s important recharge your batteries like one of Elon Musk’s solar panels.  The question is: How?

I’m an extrovert – always have been and always will be.  I’m also a big believer in marrying work and play, being active, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.  So if you, like me, have far too much work to do today, but refuse to let the beautiful weather pass you by, there are a few things you can do:

  • Work Outside – Okay, so no shit this is the most obvious answer of them all.  But if it’s so obvious, why aren’t you doing it?  There’s absolutely no reason (especially in these days of mobile internet) you can’t work outside.  Go to the roof, the patio, the park.  Bring your laptop, notebook, papers to grade, headphones (if you want), and sunglasses.  Sit down, smile, and work a little happier.
  • Take 15 Minute Breaks To Do Errands – Errands?  Errands?!?  Running errands is not a break, right?  Or is it?  Try taking fifteen minute breaks from your work to walk to the grocery store, or drive there with the windows down.  Take a walk.  Go to Starbucks.  Hit up CVS.  If you want to go absolutely nuts, go the dog park and run around petting all the random peoples’ dogs (if you have your own dog I’m very jealous).  Do anything that involves getting out of the house.
  • Work With Friends – Know anybody else that has to get stuff done, too?  Meet at the local coffeeshop, or at the park.  Everyone knows mutual accountability works fairly well when it comes to doing work with friends.  Sure you’ll get sidetracked and argue about your March Madness bracket for 30 minutes while not getting anything done, but that was also kind of the point, right?
  • Go For A Run – Just kidding.  I hate running.
  • Reward Yourself – Make outdoor plans with friends (drinking at a beerhaus being the preferable option), but make them for two hours from now.  Don’t let yourself go out until your work is done.
  • Do All Brainstorming / Problem-Solving / Outlining / Plotting Outside – If you have any work that’s mostly made up of heavy thinking, unplug yourself from your computer, grab some music, and head outside.  Think as you walk – you never know which of your surroundings might give you inspiration.  At the very least, even if you don’t solve any problems, you’ll have recharged your brain and can get back to work when you return.  More likely than not lightning will strike in the form of at least one idea – write it down on your iPhone so you don’t forget it.

But whatever you do, please, please, do not let this amazing weather go to waste.

13 comments on “Working On A Beautiful Spring Day”

  1. I can confirm that going outside helps massively with untangling complicated ideas or problems in my plotting. Even beyond seeing inspiration outdoors, there’s something about not being walled in and being able to just move around in the open air that helps me focus on ideas until I find the solution.

  2. I can confirm that going outside helps with brainstorming, especially with complex plot issues. There’s something about being in the open air, and not walled in, that helps massively. Maybe it’s the rush of new information, sights smells etc. compared to sitting in my room, trying to figure things out. I can look at the most random thing, like a branch on the ground from a certain angle, and suddenly get a totally new outlook on something.

  3. Next best thing if the above was not possible: put a chair by the window, open the shades, open the window and bask!
    Another benefit: Vitamin D!!!!! If it’s been a bleak and dreary winter, we’re all suffering from sunshine (Vitamin D) deficiency to some degree, so getting outside, even if it’s just to sit in a lawn chair and breathe, is the best thing you can do for yourself. Really!
    Is winter depression (not clinical depression, although it may help with that a bit too) getting you down? Get some sunshine!

  4. Loved your post, as always, and happy to say I spent the weekend on a short hop in our rv to the outdoors. 🙂 The editor in me is writing to say that I think you misused the word extrovert. I couldn’t think of a suitable replacement, other than outdoorsman, so I went to Google. It’s probably not quite what you wanted, but I found a fun word: Nemophilist – one who is fond of forest or forest scenery; a haunter of the woods. Keep up the great posts.

  5. I live in Tucson where the winter doesn’t bring cabin fever, but the summer does. Spring and fall are the best seasons, especially spring. However, this year it’s been a record-breaking March (90+ degrees) and we gave in and turned on the air-conditioning yesterday. Next week is looking better, with highs in the 70s and even 60s. The roses and lavender are in full bloom, and the orange tree is blossoming. I’m looking forward to sitting in my writing chair outside with a glass of iced tea and my dog.

    But echoing what Shane Hall said, I used to hike up a nearby mountain every Sunday to get the next big idea on my novel. It seemed to fall from the sky around the time when I’d thoroughly exhausted myself, somewhere around the 2.5 hour mark as I made my way down the mountain, totally drained of energy.

    1. I love that – I’ll have to find the nearest mountain to climb when I’m ready for my next book. And the picture you just painted of your area sounds amazing! I’m more than a little jealous.

      1. It’s lovely here most of the time, but come summertime I’ll be jealous of the rest of the country when temps go above 100. Carpe diem! And enjoy your hike, when the time comes. 🙂

  6. This is great advice! I love your enthusiasm on getting outside, we need that from more individuals. I can attest to the benefits of working outside: productivity and vitamin D 🙂

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