Tips to Increase Productivity During Winter Months

Posted: Feb 5, 2021

I think we can all collectively agree on one thing – 2020 was rough and we’re all trying to recover. We are now over a month into the new year, and as a society of working professionals, the (depending where you live) cold, gloomy winter months can be draining. Whether you are back in the office or working from home, you may be experiencing some winter blues, and in turn, may be affecting your productivity in the workplace. Here are 3 simple tips that can help boost productivity when you feel not-so-productive:

Change Up Your Workspace

If you are working from home, working from your bed or couch may seem like the most comfortable place to sit down and tackle those emails, but it may be hindering your productivity. Give yourself a designated workspace, whether that is at the kitchen table, spare bedroom, or elsewhere – somewhere that signals your brain to go into work-mode. You don’t want to work in the same space where you go to relax after hours, as this may make it harder to switch from work-mode after you are done for the day. And you know what they say – leave your work at work.

If you are in office or already have a designated work space at home, you may want to do some preliminary Spring cleaning. No, it isn’t Spring yet, but if you do a bit of rearranging and give your workspace a deep clean, it might just be the refreshing change you need. You should also make your workspace reflect your aesthetic and put a little thought into decorating it to make it a more enjoyable environment. I work from home, so personally, my office is filled with plants and animals (I have a bearded dragon, fish and frogs that all live in my home office in their tanks/enclosures). These are things that make me happy and increase my productivity. You may not work best in a mini zoo like me, but find something that brings you joy and add it to your office to see a boost in productivity.

Set Your Schedule First Thing in the Morning

So, you grab your cup of coffee and slowly make it over to your desk to begin your day. Before jumping right into all those unread emails, take the first 15 minutes to plan ahead. With only so many hours in the day, you can only do so much. With that being said, your never-ending list of to-do’s may seem daunting. This is where prioritization comes into play. Take a look at your list and mark the items that are most pressing to least pressing. Of the most pressing, what is the most difficult task? Start your day off with that one. Get it out of the way. Since you have roughly 8 hours, ask yourself, “how can I make the most of these 8 hours?”

Firstly, factor in your meetings. You know about how much time those are going to take. Then, factor in getting through your emails. With the remaining time, estimate how much each of those pressing tasks will take and determine realistically how much you can accomplish in one day. Don’t put more on your plate then you can handle. If you are trying to rush through your tasks just so you can complete your to-do list, you are more than likely to make a mistake. It is more important to focus on quality of quantity, and that’s OK. So, don’t sweat it if you don’t always get to the lower priority items on your to do list every day.

Take Care of Yourself

First and foremost, getting yourself into a routine is important. If you are working from home, you may feel compelled to roll out of bed and log right into work. While you may be getting a couple more minutes of sleep, you are not starting your day in a productive mindset. Establish a morning routine, and in that routine, give yourself some time to do something for YOU. Maybe that means doing a quick morning workout, playing with your dog, making a yummy breakfast, reading a chapter of your favorite book, or even singing your favorite song in the shower (hey, we don’t judge)! Whatever it takes to get you up and in the right mindset before a productive day of work.

Now that you’ve started the day on the right foot, make sure you keep that self-care going throughout the day. It is important to make sure you don’t forget to eat! Make sure you are taking some time out of your day to have lunch. Keep snacks on your desk to eat throughout the day if you have to. You’ve likely heard the term “hangry,” which is a combination of the words “hungry” and “angry.” If you’re hangry, you will likely be less productive.

Take brain breaks! You are only human, and it is a scientific fact that the average human brain can only concentrate for two hours at a time. This means, when you start to feel your concentration slipping, stand up, walk away from your desk, and think about something, anything, other than work for a couple minutes. You may feel like taking breaks is counter-productive, but when you return back to your desk and can fully focus on the work in front of you, you will end up being more productive than trying to force yourself to concentrate for eight hours straight with no breaks.

You Got This!

This time of the year can be hard on many people. The “Winter Blues” are a real thing. You feel it, your boss feels it, and your coworkers feel it, too. In the winter, we feel more tired than usual. That’s because the days are shorter. It takes a toll on your mind and body when you are going into work in the dark and leaving work in the dark. There are little things you can do to help get through the season, and don’t worry, Summer will be here before you know it!       

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Emily Baca