Ask LH: How Can I Get Outside More During The Workday?

Dear Lifehacker, The weather has been great lately, and I find myself wishing I could be outside when I’m sitting at my desk. I realise I have to work to get paid, but is there a way I can get outside more during the workday without losing my job? Sincerely, Sun Blocked

Title image remixed from Dmitriy Shironosov (Shutterstock).

Dear SB,

Taking your workday outdoors is a great idea. In fact, as Harvard Medical School points out (and as your mum has been telling you for years), going outside does great things for your health. It’s also good to get out of your usual environment every now and then to boost productivity. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can take your work outside.

Take Your Meetings Outdoors

Meetings are one of the most tedious parts of the day. Fortunately, they’re often easy to take outdoors. The benefit isn’t just in the fact you get to soak in some rays, but also that you’re leaving the office and all its trappings. Fewer distractions could even help you get through a meeting more quickly.

Thinking outside the box is good for personal creativity, and it’s not a bad way to conduct a meeting either. With the familiar surroundings gone, you might find that people are more willing to brainstorm ideas and play with new concepts during meetings.

You can also take the Steve Jobs approach and do walking meetings. This is a good way to get outside when you’re only meeting with one person, and you can get a little exercise while you’re at it.

Of course, not all meetings can be held outdoors; you might need computers or projectors for presentations. If that’s the case, you might want to see if you can do work remotely every now and then. Photo by Office Now.

Take Your Office with You Anywhere

Working outdoors isn’t all that different to working from home, and you can take the same approach as telecommuting to convince your boss to let you work outside. Since you’re away from your usual distractions, it’s often easier to get things done when you’re plopped down in a park or outside a cafe.

We’ve previously talked about what you need to work from anywhere, and the same basic rules apply here. As long as you have a laptop, you can work from nearly anywhere, including outdoors.

It’s not too hard these days to find a cafe with free Wu-Fi and a nice outdoor area for you to do your work. If there’s no Wi-Fi, you can always stay connected by tethering your phone (check out our picks for iPhone/Android). Besides internet access, the only other thing you really need is an extra battery pack for power. Make sure you follow our guide to maximising battery life.

You’ll inevitably get a lot more done when you’re working in a place where no one can bother you. Plus, you’ll get some Vitamin D and relaxation in at the same time. When working remotely isn’t an option, it’s time to force yourself outdoors and get outside every chance you get. Photo by stuartpillow.

Get Outside for Breaks, Phone Calls and Lunches

You won’t be able to have meetings that can be taken outside all the time, and it’s unlikely that your boss will let you work while sitting underneath a big tree five days a week. So what about the rest of your days? Your best bet is to keep it simple and leave the office every chance you get.

Instead of sticking around the office and waiting for phone calls, try taking those calls outside. This is especially good for conference calls where a little peace and quiet is better than sitting in front of your computer. Other options might be to take your lunch outside to a park or sit in the outdoor area if you’re at a restaurant.

You can also take care of small tasks directly from your phone. Knocking out a few items on your to-do list or replying to simple emails is easy to do in the sun, and you’ll feel more productive for it in the process. Photo by NateBW.

When you get out of the office during your workday, it’s a refreshing feeling. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, it’s rejuvenation from the doldrums of normalcy. If nothing else, at least you’ll get a little sun.


PS Have you successfully convinced a boss to let you work outside for part of the day? Share your tips in the comments.

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