Fresh air. A break from screen fatigue. No grating sounds leaking over your cubicle’s wall. Being outside with colleagues can provide a way to rub elbows with the C-suite as well as a stress-free space to take out a pen and commit your best ideas to paper. Furthermore, leaders who want their teams to retain information can use working outside to encourage groups to sit (or walk!), engage and take notes by hand. In fact, studies show that taking notes by hand promotes long-term memory and can inspire creativity.
Planning a meeting outside—one where everyone is armed with a notebook—may be the productive endeavor you were looking for. Plus, we could all use the change of scenery: Today, most of us spend roughly 93 percent of our day inside a building or in a vehicle.
Here’s why your team should grab your notebooks and head outdoors.
Reason #1: Avoiding electronic distractions ultimately leads to greater productivity.
Time together outside the office can eliminate the formality of scheduling time on your CEO’s calendar, and it allows for an informal check-in with the summer intern. Plus, face time can fuel productive collaboration. According to a 2018 Workplace Distraction Survey by Udemy, 50 percent of respondents said workplace distractions cause them to be significantly less productive.
Consider leaving your smartphone behind: Smartphone separation anxiety is real, as is the temptation to shift your attention every time you hear a chime. Encourage your team to take advantage of the peaceful silence that comes when unplugging by taking notes and brainstorming on paper. Unlike typing, taking notes by hand forces you to process information in a different way and your brain activity heightens.
Reason #2: It fuels creativity, fosters productivity and reduces stress.
Walk outside to meet, or walk outside while meeting. Walking increases creative ideation by 60 percent, according to a study by Stanford University. Just the act of strolling increases blood flow and can get your creative juices flowing, says neuroscientist Andrew Tate.
So, walk, talk and listen. Then come together to sit and reflect on what was discussed by writing things down in your notebooks—a stress relief technique in and of itself. Writing lets you reflect and better evaluate a situation, helping you approach challenges with longer periods of focus.
Reason #3: Mother Nature can boost your overall health and mood.
Too much time sitting appears to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fear factor aside, merely providing employees with a view of trees and landscapes reduces the amount of sick time taken per year, according to a study from the University of Oregon. Actual contact with nature amplifies those benefits. A drop of nature is like a drop of morphine to the brain, says Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature, since it stimulates your brain’s neurons while turning off its stress response.
Encourage your team to take advantage of their alfresco meeting time by writing down ideas and questions related to business challenges in their notebooks. Sometimes the best ideas come when unplugged, so put them on paper and resolve to today a productive one.
- Bui, D. C., Myerson, J., & Hale, S. (2012, October 8). “Note-Taking With Computers: Exploring Alternative Strategies for Improved Recall.” Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030367