Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Want to Get That Project Done? Pray for Rain

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I don’t know about you, but I feel definitely feel a strong weather influence on the way I work. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I get my fair share of gloomy days—thankfully tempered with a few spectacularly sunny and scenic days, as well.

I wondered if it’s just me, or if there is a true correlation between the weather and the ability to get stuff done.

Turns out, the weather can have a major impact on your productivity—and the way you think.

If you want to really drive through those tasks you’ve been dreading or procrastinating on, here are a couple weather-related techniques to try.

Save Your Most Dreaded Work for the Worst Weather Day This Week

In a study involving mortgage-processing employees at a Tokyo bank, two years of productivity reports were correlated with weather statistics over the same time period.

Results showed that the more gloomy the weather and the lower the visibility level, the more productive office workers were in completing their bank transactions.

Conversely, the more sunny and clear it was, the less productive the workers actually were.

Can you blame them? A vision of sunny skies outside your window brings up thoughts of everything you could be doing outside—instead of getting down to work in your drab office. So if you’re having trouble focusing on a particular project, take a look at the weather forecast for the week and save it for a rainy, overcast day when you’ll likely be much more productive.

Get Rid of Your Beach Screen Saver

It’s not just the weather that affects you—even just thinking about nice weather can bring your productivity down.

Here’s an example from another study: Harvard students were asked to complete spreadsheet entries with the promise they’d be rewarded based on how quickly and accurately they completed the work.

The experiment required some to do the work on sunny days, while others completed the assignment on rainy days. Some, but not all, of the rainy day participants were shown images of sunny day scenes and activities before they started their work.

Of the participating groups, the most productive were not only those who did the work on the rainy day, but the group who had not seen any of the sunny weather images.

The takeaway? Now that you’re aware of how sunny weather—and even evocative images of it—can disturb your work, do something about it! Get rid of that serene beach screensaver, and even consider taking down your vacation snapshots. Does it make sense to put a picture of a misty, rain-soaked Scottish moor on your desktop? Maybe so. It might be just the trick to keep you mentally focused.

Stay Late on Rainy Days; Leave Early When it’s Sunny

Given that you’ll probably be more productive, rainy days can be a great opportunity to log a few more minutes at work. And studies show we tend to spend, on average, about 30 additional minutes working on rainy days versus sunny ones.

So, take advantage of this! On overcast days, plan to stay a little longer and knock out some of the work you’ve been putting off. The good news is, if you knuckle down on crummy days, you’re much more likely to have free rein to pop out early when that sunny sidewalk happy hour is calling your name!

In many places across the country, the nice spring weather will be here before you know it. Make the most of the inclement days now, so you can really enjoy the summery days that lie ahead!

Photo of rainy day courtesy of Shutterstock.