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Staying productive through the winter

Nov 29, 2018

You thought summer was hard, but staying motivated through the winter is incredibly difficult. Short days, warm fires and cold weather make it easy to get nothing done. Here are four steps to staying productive during the winter months.

Winter is firmly here and with it, has brought shorter days and colder weather. With the average working day ranging between 6AM and 8PM, any potential downtime is spent in the dark. This lack of direct sunlight during the day, the dramatic dip in temperature and change in atmosphere can have an effect on a work routine and overall mood.
 
During the winter months, it is important to reassess the way we work and find a routine that fits our needs to help prevent a drop in mood and productivity.

Here are four simple steps to help keep productivity up at a time of the year when energy levels may fall down.

Prep is key

One of the best ways to develop a healthy and productive daily winter work routine is to get the right start. A good night’s sleep and a morning routine are integral to boosting motivation and energy to help tackle the challenges of the busy day ahead.
 
The National Sleep Foundation in the US recommends adults between the ages of 26 and 64 need to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. A lack of sleep is proven to have both short and long-term effects on our bodies and mental health, with high blood pressure and anxiety being some of the side effects. Going to bed at a regular time each night and switching off back-lit devices such as your phone are small ways to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
 
Your morning routine is also important. Many successful CEOs cite advanced planning as an integral part of their morning ritual. Visualising the day helps put the brain into work mode, making planning the day ahead easier. Taking five minutes in the morning to go over the day’s tasks can help boost morning motivation and productivity.

Beat SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression specifically related to the change in seasons. A combination of reduced natural daylight, hectic lifestyles, and poor weather can affect our circadian rhythms. The symptoms for those who suffer from SAD commonly begin in autumn and continue into the winter months, with most people experiencing a decrease in energy level and a change in mood.
 
In Ireland, we are more susceptible to SAD due to our location in the Northern Hemisphere. According to Mental Health Ireland, approximately one in 15 people in Ireland will suffer from the disorder between September and April.
 
Maximising exposure to daylight, engaging in fun activities, and practising healthy habits such as a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are simple ways to help reduce the symptoms of SAD.

Change it up

Everyday routines are comfortable and usually productive. However, during the winter months, there can be benefits to mixing things up. Forcing ourselves to make a change to our workflow encourages the brain to make new connections and forces it to pay attention and learn. This is known as neuroplasticity.
 
Changing work locations is a simple, cheap and effective way to change a working routine and boost productivity. Flexible office space providers offer a number of options that can accommodate the needs of freelancers, SMEs or larger businesses.  

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of businesses introducing hot-desking to their work environment. This is an office system whereby one workstation is used by multiple employees during different time periods. Usually, employees work different shifts or have flexible schedules, allowing a number of employees to benefit from a change in location at different times during the winter months. 

Workplace wellness

To help boost employee well-being and mental health, many businesses and flexible workspace providers have begun introducing workplace wellness programmes for their employees. Whether it is a lunch-time mindfulness seminar or morning Pilates class, it can be useful to take advantage of your company’s well-being programme, especially during the winter months.

Clare Kelly is the Director of Glandore.