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5 ways spring fever can boost productivity

(MoneyWatch) Winter hasn't been too bad this year in much of the country, but even so, the first few weeks of spring just feel different. A pleasant breeze gives you more energy. Sunshine makes you feel happy for no reason. With flowers blooming more copiously by the minute, it's hard to buckle down and focus on work.

But I think spring can be a great time to change things up a bit, and maybe boost productivity in some unexpected ways. Here's how:

1. Take that conference call outside. We live in a virtual world. Many of us sit tethered to our desks in order to type on laptops and talk on cellphones. This doesn't make much sense. If you've got a long call, go sit outside and smell the flowers while you chat. One-on-one meetings can be done just as easily on a park bench outside your office building as they can be done in a conference room.

2. Get up early to exercise. Now that the temperatures are warmer, burrowing deep under the covers isn't quite so tempting. Set the alarm half an hour earlier and go for a run or walk outside. Even two to three days a week can make a huge difference in your health and mood. (See the related post, What the most successful people do before breakfast.)

3. Use that planning instinct. Some ambitious souls think about their summer vacation plans the previous summer. I've never been that organized, and I know I'm not alone. For some reason, warmer temperatures lend urgency to thinking about what you'll do during your time off. But if you can plan a trip four months from now, in July, why not think about other things you'd like to have done by July? What professional goals can be achieved in the medium term? You think through specifics like hotel reservations, so start thinking through specifics like how you'd meet a new client, how you'd scale up work at an existing one, etc.

4. Take a strategic afternoon off. A big chunk of the happiness boost associated with vacations comes from anticipating them. But you don't need to take a whole week off to anticipate good things to come. Look at the 10-day weather forecast, and choose an afternoon that will be lovely. Put in to take that off, block it on your calendar and plan what sort of spring fun you'll have. A picnic with your kids? A hike in a nearby nature preserve? A mini-canoeing trip? Knowing that your afternoon treat is coming, you'll likely be more organized and productive in the mean time.

5. Bring some blooms into your life. Flowers are rare in January but they aren't now. Make a habit of cutting a few from the yard and bringing them to work with you. Even if you're trapped in a cubicle, a few magnolia blossoms floating in a glass bowl make life a little more calm and sweet.

How are you celebrating spring?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user brianfuller6385.
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