THE BLOG

Coping With Summer-Induced Focusing Problems

04/15/2014 04:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2014
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Rejoice! After five months of relentless Cleveland Steamers from Old Man Winter, warm weather is finally on the sunny horizon.

But as the majority of the nation emerges from their dormant hibernation -- with atrophied muscles and the demoralized demeanor of someone who's been punched in the stomach every hour for the last 175 days -- they'll be faced with a significant problem: the inability to focus at work.

This is something I experienced firsthand when I moved from Wisconsin to Southern California two months ago. It was 8 degrees below zero when I packed the moving truck, looking like Randy from A Christmas Story. One week later, I stepped outside to unload and was welcomed by a 75 degree blanket of soul-warming sunshine.

While this drastic change in weather was great for my inner drive to keep living this life, I found that getting work done became nearly impossible.

And using a home office didn't help. It's easy to hunker down and write when you're locked indoors like a desperate prisoner (e.g. Stephen King's Misery). But after months of relentless abuse from a wintry mix of snow, subzero temperatures, and sidewalks that doubled as ice-skating rinks, I found leisurely strolls on the beach far more desirable than staring at a computer screen.

So, to get my writing done, I had to employ several tactics to keep me on track. While my weather change experience is extreme, you'll probably be facing similar productivity issues when that first 80 degree day peaks its glorious head over the top of your cubical.

Here are some tactics that can help you stay productive:

Work with the blinds closed.
Simple, yet incredibly effective. If you work in a large, open-air office and this isn't an option, strap-on a crude version of horse blinders made from your belt and index cards.

Listen to really depressing music at your desk.
No one wants to dig their toes into the sand and sip margaritas when they hate everyone and everything. No one.

Get two hours of sleep and avoid caffeine the following day.
Sure, sleep deprivation might not be "healthy," but its side effects can be useful. Baking in the sun is the last thing you want to do when you're nauseous, irritated, and having a hallucination of King Arthur fighting a stegosaurus.

Research the effects of excessive sunlight on the human body.
Skin caner, heat stroke, eye tissue damage, and increased body wrinkling. Bottom line, the sun can kick your ass. The fear of having skin that looks like a 70-year-old horse saddle when you're older should be scary enough to keep you indoors for a few days.

Go shirtless, all day.
If none of the suggestions above do the trick, this is your last option. Go ahead, call into work and treat yourself to a sunrise-to-sunset beach day. However, you must follow three rules:

  1. No sunscreen
  2. No sitting in the shade, even for a second
  3. No cooling off in the water

Over the next week you'll be in so much pain that any type of light -- including the artificial kind from your ceiling fan -- will be mentally and physically agonizing.