British Winter Time is soon arriving. Do you welcome the changing season or find that your motivation, energy and productivity dip as the days grow shorter? We explore the causes and what can we do to improve our mindset.
Why does Productivity Dip in Winter?
We talk about the shorter days of winter, but the reality is the number of hours in the day remains the same, what reduces is the natural light.
Our exposure to natural light is essential to our health and well-being. We need it to enhance many aspects of our physiology including alertness, mood, motivation and productivity. As such, it can become a struggle when we leave for work in darkness and arrive home after the sun has set.
In addition, cold weather dissuades us from heading outside. As a result, we get less fresh air and exercise, which can impact on our ability to sleep. As a result, energy levels decline. Throw in a craving for stodgy foods and we can start seeing how our health and motivation takes a hit.
I’m starting to paint a bleak picture of winter, however, a dip in health and energy isn’t inevitable. Fortunately, there are things we can do to retain a positive mindset. And, it all starts with spotting the signs of lower productivity.
Spotting the Sign of Lower Productivity
Are you feeling exhausted; mentally, physically and emotionally drained? This was my experience, although I experienced it in mid-summer!
This sense of extreme tiredness made every task feel like such an effort. I was extremely busy and my days were filled, yet I didn’t feel that I had achieved much come the evening. My usual drive was missing and I lacked enthusiasm for anything. Unfortunately, my sleep, social interactions and diet were affected.
If you are identifying with this, it is time to press pause and put yourself first.
It might feel that you haven’t time to stop. however, things won’t change unless you allow your body and mind to recharge. So, what do you need to help reboot your productivity?
Recharge & Reboot Productivity
I knew that I needed to restructure my day. Initially, my steps were to take a proper lunch break, finish work on time and not answer emails in the evening. Secondly, I prioritised a relaxing evening routine to promote sleep. In addition, I moved away from my desk and got out for a daily lunchtime walk. Having a dog certainly helped with this step! Then, realising my reliance on coffee, I paid more attention to drinking water for hydration.
The result was that I spent less of my day working. However, as I was getting more fresh air, exercise, sleep and water, I was more productive when I was working. In giving my body and mind what it needed to recharge, I was able to reboot my productivity; working smarter, not harder. What’s more, I’ve been able to sustain this routine and feel back to my usual self!
What changes do you need to make to your daily routine?
The first step can be to set three realistic work priorities each day. Identify what matters the most and has to be done. Don’t add anything to the list until these three goals are complete. Sticking to just three at a time helps you to focus, not feel overwhelmed and gain a sense of achievement. It’s a technique shared in Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman.
5 Productivity Tips for Winter
Below are 5 other recommendations for maintaining your productivity this winter:
Get Active Outside – On a cold winter’s day, it takes a lot of willpower to head out at lunchtime. There’s every excuse to avoid it, yet it does you so much good. A walk or ride in the fresh air will revitalise you. The movement boosts blood circulation and provides oxygen for the brain. Oxygen feeds the limbic system and hippocampus, aiding memory, mood and motivation. Another benefit is that your workplace will feel warmer on your return.
Eat Well – In winter, a salad may not cut it, but you can get plenty of goodness from a hot soup, bean chilli or vegetable curry. Make nutritious choices to fuel your energy levels and help boost immunity.
Optimise Natural Light – Work near a window or skylight, open blinds and use reflective surfaces like mirrors to reflect light around your workspace. A lunchtime walk will also increase light exposure.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Our body and mind only fully recharge when we are in deep sleep. Switch off tech and avoid caffeine in the evening to promote relaxation that aids sleep. Eye masks, ear plugs, herbal teas, a silk pillow – what do you need to dose off?
Do Something You Love – What lifts your spirits? Is it dancing to upbeat music, meeting up with friends, getting creative, volunteering in your community or getting lost in a good book? Unfortunately, we often put the things we love on the back burner. We’re too busy with work, chores and life’s demands, but this must change! So, schedule a regular slot to do the things that bring you joy. Remember, this is important, as it will energise you and put you in a positive mindset.
Positive Mindset & Productivity
Prioritising our personal needs may feel indulgent or a waste of time, but it’s necessary to keep us performing at our best. Investing in our physical and mental health, setting achievable goals and doing the things we love, leads to a positive mindset. In turn, this fuels our motivation and productivity. So, what changes will you make this winter?