It’s never easy when the winter comes and, for many of us, we end up going to and from work in the dark, wondering when we’ll see the sun again. We reach for our pajama pants almost immediately upon entering our homes, looking for comfortable warmth. But there’s that whole work day to contend with — you may feel like hibernating, but you have to stay on track. So what do you do to keep your drive and focus when you’d much rather stay home wrapped in a blanket reading a good book or watching a Mad Men marathon?
- Regular exercise: Get some in at least once a day, going outside if you can. Exercise helps reduce stress and improve sleep — two things that get thrown out of whack by the crazy holiday rush. It can be as simple as a walk, but look around your local area for hiking trails, deals on gym memberships for the new year, ski or snowshoe rentals…how can you get creative? (Or even do jumping jacks while watching Don Draper have one more liquid business lunch — there’s a lot you can do in your own living room.)
- Get outside: As mentioned above, getting outside in the bleak winter months is possible and helpful. May suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is more serious than a simple case of the “winter blues,” and getting outside for ten minutes of sunshine can truly help. Changing physical perspective can help give a more positive outlook, especially when you’re starting to feel a bit cooped up from being inside.
- Be social: Even if you feel you can’t socialize too much at your workplace, getting out with friends after work can help you stay motivated during work. If you feel you can take some downtime with coworkers, do so: When people feel they have connections at work, it helps boost imorale among workers and improves performance overall. Outside of work, allow yourself to connect in person with friends (Facebook and Twitter don’t count) to rejuvenate and blow off some steam. That feeling of hibernation is much easier to shake when you make a point to interact with others.
- Set attainable goals: While this does feel like a less productive time of year, setting small goals (sometimes in pursuit of a larger, longer-term goal) can help you spark that initiative to get something done. Make a list and keep it simple and doable — what is one workplace goal that you can set and accomplish in a day? Whether it’s to clean out old files or take a next step toward finishing an ongoing project, there’s an intense sense of satisfaction in crossing that to-do off your list…and your boss may well notice, too.
- Stay healthy: This links to exercise but also includes avoiding the various winter plagues that fly around all offices (and everywhere else) at this time of year. Mom was right: Take your vitamins, wash your hands often, and get plenty of sleep. Take care with what you eat as well, and try to avoid too many holiday treats and comfort foods. Yes, it’s difficult, but sugar and carbs, two staples of those two delicious temptations, will lead to weight gain and sluggishness, both of which affect your work — and overall — performance. Total abstinence is difficult, so have one frosted elf sugar cookie instead of three…and add lots of healthy vegetables to that Superbowl crock pot of chili.
Staying productive and focused during the winter months is very doable. Just use these steps as a guideline so that when the thaw comes and you drive home before the sun sets, you’re already on top of your game.
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