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Research Suggests Rainy Vermont Days Keep You Focused

We’ve just experienced a row of rainy, cold days here in Vermont. Do you feel cooped up, desperate for the return of sunny blue skies? Or have you enjoyed the excuse to stay indoors, focus on work, and listen to the rain at night?

I’ve felt both. Rainy, silver days help me focus and feel creative. But sunny weather is inspiring and, well, more fun.< I'm not alone. The study "Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity” from Harvard Business School finds “bad weather increases individual productivity by eliminating potential cognitive distractions resulting from good weather.”

Or, as simply stated in the paper’s abstract, “worker productivity is higher on bad rather than good weather days.” In that study, inclement weather is associated with increased speed and accuracy.

Also, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggests that, while bright lights can make workers more alert, dim lights can make them more creative and trigger a “risky, explorative processing style.”

And as reported in The Atlantic, “pleasant weather in general—has a way of making our brains lazy.”

So perhaps it’s good that Vermont is cloudy. Very cloudy. We rank #2 for top cloudiest U.S. state, right behind Washington. (And by only five days.)

According to the always-recommended Happy Vermont  “If you look at clear days (no more than 30 percent cloud cover), Burlington is actually tied with Seattle for the lowest number of clear days per year – a mere 58 days.”

All the studies agree frequent exposure to daylight is the best medicine for overall health, alertness, and mental focus. A desk by a window is helpful; a 30-minute walk outside, even on a cloudy day, is ideal.

Just remember to bring a raincoat.

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