When the days are full of hot sticky shirts and uncomfortable sweaty chairs, and our arms have to be peeled away from our desks at frustratingly frequent intervals, working in the summer can be a bit of a nightmare.
Unfortunately, for many of us, choosing our working location is a luxury we’re yet to enjoy, with workers across the country being crammed into commuter trains, office cubicles and intensive labour spaces with little escape from the humidity and heat. And where heat goes, distraction follows. It seems our generation can’t go five minutes without making a comment across social media about the negative effects of the heat on our productivity.
We can’t sleep, we can’t drink hot coffee, we can’t sit comfortably, we can’t think. The heat seems to cram itself inside our heads and slowly melt our brains into goop almost every working hour – making even the most simple of tasks impossible.
So I thought I would work out a couple of tips for keeping your focus in the hottest of heats, and share my advice for keeping cool in every working environment.
Dress in Layers
At this time of year, finding the right balance of fashion, comfort, cooling mechanisms and professionalism seems almost impossible – but it is achievable using one simple, ancient self-dressing technique: layers. To truly feel the benefit of that cool office air con, or refreshing coffee shop breeze, aim to layer up clothing with cardigans, jumpers, blazers, etc… and then sink into that blissful relief of taking them off again when the sun reaches its highest point. By midday, you’ll be so relaxed and cool that even the toughest of tasks can simply be snapped into action.
For heatwaves like the one currently roasting the UK, the internet is going to be your new best friend for finding unique, and office-appropriate, gadgets for keeping cool. Never mind the noisy, clunky desk fans that propel lukewarm air into your neatly coiffed hair and clutter up your already cramped workspace – why not invest in a mini-USB attachment with streamlined neon propellers for a seriously chilling workday breeze? Or a cooling seat pad for your office chair? So long as its neutrally coloured, and you don’t start an office riot with it, these little seat pads can make a really big difference to the comfort of your office space, and help you cool enough to focus on the big job at hand.
Keep It Neat
No I’m not talking about everyone’s least favourite spot for hair removal. I’m talking about the clutter that sits upon our desks day in, day out, blocking up our creativity. So this summer its time to clear it out: get rid of the teddies, the memo blocks, the chewed pen lids and the kitsch but empty folders. Stack em, tidy them, lock them away or pile them into a drawer…the method of disposal is entirely down to you. But the more miscellaneous items we pile onto our desks, the harder it’ll be to stay focused at work. Distraction is the killer of productivity, and whilst they don’t always have to come in the form of people, or noises, or physical distractions, the very notion of limited space and arm flexibility whilst typing can really decrease your motivaiton.
Switch the drinks
If you’re anything like me, this one is going to be a wrench. But if you want to stay focused in your office, on the hottest days of the year, it’s time to ditch the coffee. Indulge yourself in a stylish, non-sporty water bottle, or cutesy drinking glass, and swap up those trips to the coffee machine for treks to the water cooler instead. Dehydration is another common factor in lost productivity, and it can seriously affect you in more ways than you imagine. With symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, loss of concentration, dry mouth and dizziness threatening to ruin your average working day, running for the coffee pot will not help your motivation. So stock up on the ice cubes, and put that water cooler to the test this summer – your boss will definitely thank you for it.
Accepting The Temperature
This may seem daft, but I’ve noticed, on so many occasions, that on hot days, the people of Britian like to talk about the weather. Shocking, I know. But they don’t just talk about it; they Google it, they Tweet about it, they Instagram it, and they Whatsapp about it. Memes are created, Tumblr pages made, news reports finalised as they describe the fact that we all know: today, it is hot. And as tempting as it is to spend 12 hours of the day describing exactly which orifice the sweat is dripping from today, it’s not going to help you get anything productive done at all. Unless you’re a weather reporter, in which case, congrats on the heatwave! But next time the sweat-patch based banter begins in the office, just keep your head down and refuse to contribute. Not only will this help to distract you from the scorching weather outside, but it might also help you to keep your focus that little bit longer, leaving room tomorrow for your own special breed of high temperatured gossip.
I know it’s tough to even sit down at an office chair in temperatures such as these, but unfortunately your to-do list doesn’t get to take a summer holiday, and neither should you. So whip off those cardigans, plump up those ice packs, pop on your finger fans, and get to work. Good luck!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and that the summer heat isn’t distracting you too much this Monday! To check out my last post, on my own personal form of anxiety distraction, click here, or to see some of the snaps I’ve been taking of the summer heat, you can follow my Instagram profile here!