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Fuel Your Productivity by Stepping Outside

26 May 2021

Working in the office all day causes people to experience higher degrees of weariness and burnout than typical. Even if only for a few minutes, going outside throughout the workplace can boost well-being and efficiency with minimal time and effort.

It's no mystery that spending time outside makes many of us feel so much better. Whether it's the fresh air or the change of scenery, going for a short walk out can typically help to lift our spirits. It can be challenging to schedule outside activities regularly, and although many of us yearn for the outdoors, we put it off until the weekend or vacation. Staying at your desk all day causes workers to experience exhaustion, indifference, and even burnout sooner than usual. The average American spends approximately 90% of their time indoors. According to an extensive poll of over 7,000 office workers, 47 percent had no access to natural light at their workstations, and 58 percent have no living plants nearby. This emphasizes the importance of getting more workers outside during the workday.

We live in a technologically advanced society that needs constant interactions. As a result, people now spend 25% less time in nature than they did 20 years ago. Although it can be challenging to get outside during the rush and bustle of the workweek, studies suggest that individuals who engage outside are happier, healthier, and sharper, and more productive at work. 

What does going outside have to do with being productive?

Getting outside can be one of the most effective ways to periodically decompress a functioning mind to assist your brain recover and restore its keen edge. Many studies have found that spending more time outside can help with short-term memory, stress reduction, focus, and mood enhancement. This is due, in part, to the perceptual richness that an out-of-office atmosphere may bring; in such a scenario, your senses arouse more than at your desk, which can boost alertness to your environment and concentration once you return to the office. Bursts of imagination and problem-solving occur after times of healing and leisure in natural settings, which help renew the prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain responsible for memory retention, planning, organizing tasks, and other related functions.

The big misconception about achieving these efficiency gains is that it takes too much time, particularly during the workweek. Incorporating little midday tips to get the advantages of nature can be quick and easy and more profitable in the long run. 

Here are some convincing reasons to step away from your work and spend some time outside:

Improves concentration

As the week unfolds, many of us find our attention fading. Time spent in nature may aid in regaining efficiency that you would otherwise lose owing to a lack of attention. 

In a test on how nature affects focus levels, researchers divided ADHD children into two different groups. One group spent time in open green places, whereas the other spent time indoors. Even when completing the same tasks, the outside group displayed fewer symptoms of ADHD than their peers.

Improves short term memory

A quick memory test was administered to University of Michigan students, who were then separated into two groups. The first group strolled through a botanic garden, while the second strolled down a city street. The researchers repeated the memory test, and the subjects who had walked in nature performed over 20% better than the first time. Those who went the urban way did not fare better.

Even a brief walk outdoors can aid boost short-term memory, which can lead to increased productivity.

Increases creativity

Creativity contributes significantly to our total production. Several studies have demonstrated that being outside in nature increases productivity. A breathtaking landscape or a one-of-a-kind moment in nature may inspire your next thought. When you're in a creative frame of mind, you're more able to tackle the duties at hand. Discovering new ways to execute your chores more productively allows your brain to exhibit the inspiration ignited by your outdoor experience.

Minimizes stress

A study found that after just 20 minutes in nature, levels of cortisol, a stress indicator, reduced considerably. Simply looking at a garden or trees, or going on a stroll, might help to relieve tension. Being in nature provides clear signs of stress management, including physical symptoms — such as a decreased heart rate.

Promotes positivity

According to one research, a 90-minute walk in nature can benefit your brain. The researchers discovered that participants who strolled in the park rather than the city had lower amounts of blood flow to the areas of the brain involved with rumination. Rumination concentrates on negative ideas; hence the reduction in blood flow to that area of the brain demonstrated a significant rise in positivism. When we are more favorable about ourselves, we are usually able to accomplish more. The lack of negative ideas may allow you to execute more. There is also the theory that we react positively to things that are fundamentally beneficial to us and our survival, which is why trees and other natural components can help improve our spirits.

Develops mindfulness

Nature is so captivating and comforting that it might distract you from your anxieties. Being in nature raises our awareness of our surroundings and ourselves while minimizing the number of ideas that dominate our days.

Natural Light

According to one study that looked at the influence of windows and daylight exposure on office workers' general health and quality of sleep, employees who worked in windowless offices reported "role limitation" due to physical difficulties and a lack of enthusiasm. In other words, their typical everyday activities were disrupted, including their work performance and effectiveness.

There are numerous ways to increase the amount of sunlight in your day.

● Get to bed on time and get up on time.

Rather than staying up and sleeping late, increase the number of waking hours can present you to natural light. Simply by waking up at six o'clock instead of seven o'clock, you can add an extra hour of natural light to your day.

● Collect your lunch or go out to eat.

Because it is a defined break, your lunch break is an excellent time to get outside the office. Many employees feel pressured to have lunch at their desks if they miss an important email or need to leave early. However, this is not a sustainable habit; eating at your desk means you're passing on an opportunity to fuel your body while also unwinding your mind from your work. At midday, get out of the office and into some fresh air to re-energize yourself. You can have your lunch outside, but you can also go for a walk and reap the benefits of both workout and natural light. 

● Walks for meetings and phone calls.

Take your meeting outside if you are not requiring presentation slides or need to be immediately in front of a computer. This is especially true for one-on-one meetings, where the focus is frequently on the interaction. You can conduct meetings or phone calls while walking around your office building, taking a stroll a few neighborhood blocks, or even stopping by a neighboring coffee shop. Adding mobility into meetings or calls helps to ease up joints and promote blood circulation. It's good for both your brain and your body.

● Take your break in the open air.

Take advantage of your breaks to receive a 5- or 10-minute dosage of natural light. Try to spend as much time outside, but if that isn't possible, choose a spot near a window to spend your break. While you finish your drink, take a little break outside or go for a walk. Being outdoors will also provide you with other benefits, such as increased vitamin D and serotonin levels in your body. This effort offers you a short period in the middle of your work-time to rejuvenate, allowing you to return to work feeling refreshed.

● Exercise outside.

Take your workouts outside instead of performing them in the gym. Take a stroll or run, ride your bike, or even lift weights in your backyard. FlexiSpot's Sit2Go 2-in-1 Fitness Chair has a slim, streamlined body supported by smooth-rolling wheels, making it very easy to transfer from room to room and inside to outdoors. It cycles noiselessly and smoothly, so it won't interfere with your work or the job of your coworkers. This chair then helps maintain mental alertness and activity throughout work and creative pursuits. 

● Utilize your company's established outside meeting/eating areas.

Multiple studies have shown that merely spending time in more natural locations, ideally without heavy metropolitan surroundings and with some natural greenery, can enhance motivation and productivity, whether for a short conversation, a quick snack, or to get some fresh air. Offices that offer outdoor spaces should also guarantee that they are built to fulfill the demands of their employees. This includes providing them with comfortable seating, power sockets for electronics, and, if necessary, shaded places.

● When likely, sit near a window.

If you work on a laptop, ask your boss if you can work beside a window for a while. Similarly, seek a window seat when commuting and spend as much time indoors in light, open rooms.

If finding a means to get outside is difficult, consider bringing nature indoors. Find resilient plants to care for in your office space to begin experiencing nature on a small scale. With time, you may discover that you have more time on your calendar to spend outside. Whatever method you use to incorporate nature into your routine, keep in mind that it will be worthwhile. Increased productivity and a general sense of well-being will compensate you for the time you set aside to enjoy nature.