Friday 23 March 2018

An office slave's guide to feeling the joy of summer

Chrissie Russell on how to get your kicks during the daily grind

Chrissie Russell

Summer time and the living is easy, fish are jumping and the cotton is high -- but you wouldn't know because you're stuck in the office working as per usual.

Unfortunately, for many of us the thought of two sun-soaked months of summer is a distant memory from our school-going years.

Instead, while the temperatures are at their peak and the entertainments calendar is choc-a-bloc with things to do, you're sitting sweltering in an office chained to a computer and phone just like the other 11 months of the year. Sound familiar?

Here's our Top 10 tips to survive summer -- even while you're stuck in the office.

1 Maximise time off It might mean leaving the washing until you're down to the last pair of pants or letting a thick film of dust appear on your apartment's flat surfaces but the only way to feel like your on holiday when you're not is by scrapping all non-essential work and heading outside as much as possible.

Sod the cleaning, it will still be there in a couple of months when the dark nights and shoddy weather sets in. Evenings and weekends are for fun -- even if it's just to sit in a park and read a book.

2 Layer up Outside it's a scorcher and the weather calls for your most summery sandals and lightweight floaty floral dresses . . . but no one has told the office's heating system.

Thanks to centrally controlled air conditioning many of us enter our workplace only to be met with a wall of cold air.

Having spent most of the winter phoning the building manager begging him to turn up the thermostat you're now left in arctic conditions, trying to undermine the artificial climate by inching open a window.

To avoid sitting shivering in your silk mix camisoles, pack cardies, socks (and if needs be scarf and hat) and strip on and off accordingly while moving between the outdoor and indoor worlds.

3 Allow yourself to be a bit smug when the weather turns wet While you're wiling away the fine weather sitting in front of a computer screen there's no harm at all in wishing ill on the outside world.

Allow yourself a chuckle when your colleague books a week off to go fishing in Shannon only to return a sodden wreck after Irish weather reverts to type and unleashes a downpour.

The mud at Oxegen, the damp taste fests and sailing events -- well it serves them all right for trying to have fun while you're stuck at work, doesn't it. Bitterness is the refuge of the summer worker.

4 Be a big kid The best memories of holidays that you have are those hazy childhood summer days right? The ones filled with ice lollies, picnics and kiddie summer games.

Dedicate lunch times to recreating those golden years. Head to work armed with a host of childhood favourites -- Argos offers great sets including an International Football kit (€16.99) and Cricket and Golf set (€13.99), perfect for pitching up for an hour in the park.

Set up swingball in the smokers' spot and (safety permitting) hoist a kite on the roof for regular returns to childhood that will help get you through all the serious adult stuff in the day.

5 Give your lunchbox a summer makeover Attempts to feel uplifted and filled with seasonal joy aren't going to be fulfilled by the same limp sandwiches that you chomp on during all the other months of the year.

Turn lunchtime into a full-on staff event. Get Brenda from marketing to bring in a blanket, get Ashley from IT to rustle up some summer salads and Jim from HR can bring in a selection of cold meats.

By dishing out other delicacy duties to everyone else you'll have a divine tapas-style luncheon laid on in no time. Just make sure your biggest member of the team scoots out of the office 15 minutes before lunch to secure the best spot in the nearby park and defends it against the other hordes of sun-starved office staff.

6 Inject some fun into the morning commute You have to get your summer kicks where you can and one area due a weather-friendly upgrade is the daily slog in and out of work.

Start by ditching the car or any transport that involves too long cooped up in sweaty public transport -- even if you can't walk the whole distance try and get out a few stops early to get some benefit from the rising sunshine. Then get creative -- try cycling, rollerblading or scooting.

If you share the commute with a co-worker hire a tandem and make believe you're on a biking adventure rather than just heading in for an eight-hour shift. A holiday isn't just sitting on a foreign beach somewhere, it's about taking a break from the norm.

7 Transform your regular into a beach bar It's a long shot to hope that the oak-panelled old-man's bar you and your colleagues frequent after hours is suddenly going to turn into the beach bar from Cocktail, but subtle changes can be made to suspend the sense of being stuck in the same old routine.

Ditch your normal tipple for something more holiday-friendly -- sangria, pina coladas, or at least get Mick behind the bar to stick a curly straw and a tiny umbrella in your pint. And persuade him to let you call him Juan or Carlo while setting the music system to endless summer favourites like 'Club Tropicana' and the 'Macarena'.

8 Start planning for when you do have a holiday Let's face it, a fair amount of the working day is dedicated to trawling through the internet, so you may as well give your online time a point.

Create a hit list of desirable locations, scan for deals and check out flight options.

Best to minimise the windows on your screen though and not let your mind drift off too far over where you'd rather be, lest your boss twig that the serene look of calm on your face isn't tied in with the presentation you need to have on his desk by 5pm.

9 Become an iced-beverage aficionado Summer sees local coffee shops ship in a whole new menu of cold caffeine drinks that offer a fair-weather alternative to your daily Americano and scone routine.

Dedicate the summer to becoming a guru of frappacinos, iced teas and frozen lattes.

Yes, an Iced Caffe Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream may contain half your Weight Watchers points for the day -- but you have to work so you're allowed a treat here and there.

10 Get some work done It's hard to feel motivated when half the workforce is on holiday somewhere. Especially when they keep posting irksome status updates on Facebook designed to remind you that you are stuck at your desk while they are settling down on a sun lounger after swimming with dolphins or taking a hot air balloon ride.

But the absence of your chatterbox colleague could be the perfect time to actually get some work done.

Without her there to dissect last night's Coronation Street, or moan to about the unfair division of labour in the office, you could find you've a lot more time to focus on the job in hand and get all those backed-up tasks out of the way once and for all.

Irish Independent

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