When I ask people what their biggest barriers are to getting outside, "work" is often at the top of the list.
Having to go to work and earn a living really gets in the way of our opportunities to relax, our ability to manage stress, and it's hard to feel like we have enough TIME to DO ANYTHING.
When we get home from a long day at work, we have house-work to do, and paying-bills-work, and playing-with-our-kids-work, and cooking-work, and laundry-work and... heck, even the commute to and from work is, well, work!
What about those lucky people who get to to work from home? Well, it's hard for them too... they don't even have the opportunity to leave their home and get outside by default - they are in the house, working, from the minute they wake up until the minute they get to bed - with all the same pressures - except they don't even get to be outside between the house, the car, the office and back again - unless they head out for a meeting or to go to the bank or go to the store to figure out what to eat...and organizing all of that can seem like a lot of... well, you know...
Then there's the parents who stay home with their kids - what they wouldn't do for a little adult alone time, where they can actually sit and eat their lunch in peace - inside OR outside. Their day is full of worky-work-work, too...
Who wants YET ANOTHER THING to DO on their TO DO LIST?
But...! I hear you say... Going outside isn't WORK! It's PLAY! I just don't have TIME to DO IT.
Are you SURE you don't have time?
I know I am guilty of getting sucked into Facebook for more than 20 minutes at a time. I look down to just check one thing, and POOF! THERE GOES TWENTY MINUTES! I also don't always do a good job of scheduling my day ahead of time - sometimes a whole day goes by and I realize I COULD HAVE gone outside if I had been more focused on it...but the day flew by and there I was, inside all day ... AGAIN...
So why should we even try, if it takes such an effort? Is it really worth it?
Spending time outside in your work day will:
- improve your focus,
- help you to be more creative,
- increase your happiness levels,
- improve your attitude, and
- up your energy level.
So the real question is - why don't we do it MORE?
I don't think it's a lack of TIME. I think it's a lack of STRATEGIES...
HERE ARE 10 WAYS YOU CAN BRING THE OUTDOORS INTO YOUR WORKY-WORK LIFE... no matter what your day looks like!
PLANNER-TYPES OF THE WORLD UNITE:
1. Plan a lunchbreak where you are outside. Take your brownbag lunch out to the street, and sit and people-watch. Or - better yet - find a green space near your work and sit there.
2. Plan your next check-in meeting or brainstorm OUTSIDE. YOU WILL BE SURPRISED at how AWESOME it is! Getting people outside can really shake things up. A walk-and-talk with a colleague, mentor or mentee is an amazing way to get creative and find connection.
SPONTANEOUS PEOPLE OF THE WORLD UNITE:
3. Instead of emailing someone to deal with an in-depth (or a prickly) communication, drop by and ask them for 10 minutes of their time, and take the meeting outside.
4. TAKE A "NO-SMOKO". Remember the olden days - when people would go outside for a smoke-break (a "smoko" is what we call it in Australia), and that it was considered totally cool? As in, it was NORMAL? I remember feeling envious and wishing I could take 5 minutes out of every hour to step outside. NEWSFLASH! YOU CAN! Just DO IT! Just go for a nature break instead of a smoke-break!Just tell your colleagues "I'm taking a no-smoko, be back in 5!"
5. Feeling stuck? Head outside. Or at least to a window and open it up wide! Feel the breeze, breathe in some fresh air. Walk around and get some fresh perspective. I know one person who has told her boss many times that "a run would really help me solve this problem"... and now it's a joke between them - now when her boss has a tough question or issue to deal with, she will say "it's time for you to head out for a run right now then come back and help me" - HOW COOL IS THAT?!
TOOLS TO HELP YOU:
6. STICKY LOVE-NOTES and SCREENSAVERS! Write a positive affirmation along the lines of "I love my lunchtime walk" or "I am happier outside" or "A WALK HELPS ME TO SOLVE COMPLEX ISSUES"... The statement has to be a "now" statement, and "I" statement and should have an "I am doing this" quality... Put these self-love messages in key places - on your bathroom mirror, on your computer screen, on your phone's screen, on the center of your car steering wheel...
7. PARK YOUR CAR a couple of extra blocks away from work, so you get to have a calming walk in and out of your workplace (or park your car a block from home!)
8. Bring sneakers into work, or put them by your front door WITH SOCKS IN THEM... AND A HAT, AND A WATER BOTTLE!
FRIENDS ARE AWESOME:
9. If you know someone who is trying to improve their life (at work, in your neighborhood, another mom, whatever) - losing weight, dealing wtih anxiety, wanting to manage their feelings better, be more outdoorsy... whatever it is... you could buddy up and set a few objectives - one walk a week together... or one picnic lunch meeting a week... or maybe an after-work debrief walk once-a-week? Having a friend who can motivate you and keep you accountable is a great strategy!
10. Tell whoever you live with that you are wanting to get Happier Outside, and so when you are done with work, you want to find ways to bring more outdoor activity into your lives. They will PROBABLY surprise you with ideas, support, and a willingness to be involved.
After all, being outside is actually more about PLAY, than about WORK...