I’d like to say a couple nice words about autumn. Autumn gets a bad rap. It signifies the end of summer and fun and, at least for the foreseeable future, settling into a long slog of work, responsibility and bad weather. But with a slight change in perspective, and a little preparation, autumn and even (gasp!) winter can become your season of productivity—a season to come alive.
"Back to School" doesn't have to mean the end of fun
"Back to School" is a familiar, cringeworthy phrase. Perhaps this is a leftover sentiment, from every back-to-school season that ruined our childhood. Autumn means an end to lying around places: lying on the beach, lying in a park, lying in the sun. Going out for a run seems less appealing if it's dark or raining. It marks the end of lazy, dreamy days. Even cinema seems in on the conspiracy, trading the brainless summer blockbusters for brooding, introspective movies about (ugh) relationships.
Understandably, this can be a rocky transition for all of us. We all have that exhausting 'Autumn Friend' who seems to relish in our misery, who thinks autumn is a time to rejoice. You have to wonder, why do they love awful weather and short days so much? Do they just love to accessorize? Or, do they know something we don't about the seemingly dreary months ahead?
Maybe this man knows something about Autumn that we don't?
Maybe all we need is a change in perspective.
I’m not here to trash talk summer. It’s not like there’s a competition between the seasons. It’s not as if kids, born in October are better than anybody else. What I’m saying is, sometimes all it takes is a paradigm shift to see that autumn is a season of possibilities.
I love riding my bike, but I’m not a fan of riding my bike in the rain. I don’t like riding wet, or cold. I spent far too many years fretting about staying dry. Every rainy season, I’d waste money buying expensive rain gear and still end up getting wet and cold. The thing about most rain gear: it doesn’t keep you from getting wet. And if you splurge on the high-tech, hermetically sealed rain gear, it works so well you end up arriving soaked in sweat. The simple fact is, if you ride your bike in the rain, you're gonna get wet.
Let the rain win.
So are we just going to stop riding our bikes because it's raining? That's what I did. In a rainy season, I’d either walk or take transit to work. But it wouldn’t take long until I was stir-crazy, jumping at the door for a ride. By the time the rain cleared, I’d clamber onto my bike only to find my legs were hopelessly out of shape.
Eventually I just gave up: I let the rain win.
When you look this good, it's hard to be humble
While I still can’t say I’m stoked to slog through a soggy commute, at least I’m doing much better. Since I gave up trying to stay dry I can stop focusing on the rainwater seeping into my shoes and, instead, enjoy the scenery. Sure, I’ll begin layering up when it’s too cold for a t-shirt and shorts—I’m no dummy. Also, I’ll put fenders on my bike because—bike lane etiquette—I’m not a monster.
Bike lane etiquette. Learn about it.
It’s incredible how that one little tweak in perspective can open the door to a whole new world. A new, exciting point of view.
Pro tip: get that hibernation station dialed
Chances are, for the next six to eight months, we're going to spend a lot more time indoors. Just like changing our perspective on biking in rainy weather, changing our surroundings at home could have the same effect. But for most of us, the furthest we prepare for a season inside are the few tweaks we make in our kitchen. We dust off the old, faithful crockpot, pick up some bourbon and hunker-down for the long haul, hoping just the right stew will stave off cabin fever.
However, perhaps the most proactive measure we can take to make the most of this season is getting our workspace in order. After all, work is where we spend the majority of our day. It helps to really take a step back and reevaluate your home or office. Is your workspace inspiring and inviting? Do you look forward to spending your time inside, at work?
Whether you work in an office or from home, surrounding yourself with the things that get you jazzed for the workday can really jump-start that paradigm shift and turn that seasonal slump, into a seasonal opportunity.
What is the best workspace to fight that seasonal slump?
The best hours spent working are the hours you forget about work. Our bodies are fantastic at reminding us we're working. Often, the solution is that simple: we can't get comfortable, so we spend all our time at work focusing on discomfort, rather than our work.
Studies show that we're not meant to sit all day, but we're also not meant to stand all day either. The key is to mix it up. A desk that gets you up out of your chair is the best way to add activity and variation to your day — with seamless transitions between sitting, standing, and everything in between. When you want to stand, stand smart and march and move and even walk. When you want to sit, find yourself a chair that keeps you wiggling and engages your core.
We can accomplish our best work when we have to tools to fidget and occupy our floating attention so we can focus on our work. With our mind occupied, and our bodies comfortable, then the hours start melting away and, chances are, you'll actually look forward to your time spent at work. And then, when you're ready to recalibrate and refocus, nothing beats a brisk Autumnal march around the neighborhood to get you back on task. Chances are, by next summer, you’ll surprise yourself with all the work you've accomplished. You'll be so far ahead of the curve, you can take next summer off. Rejoice!
Hey Portland! Here's what's going on this Autumn
There's still autumn skeptics out there. And that's fine. For the skeptics, maybe this list of delightful autumn activities may change your mind about enjoying all this season has to offer.
• Your favorite bike ride, but now, awesomeized by autumn.
• Sauvie Island Haunted Maze
• OMSI’s Harvest Festival is super fun for the whole family.
• Portland Nursery Apple Tasting
• Visit some random high school’s homecoming football game. They’re nuts!
• Uh, Trick-or-treating. Hello, Halloween!
• Touring the Hood River Fruit Loop
• Thanksgiving: be thankful!
By Nate Barber