Every year as the hours of sunlight lessen and all vitamin D has escaped from sallow skin hidden by layers of thermals, the urge to slump into hibernation can be all-consuming.
Illustration by Tina Mailhot-Roberge.
This post originally appeared on Medium.
I am a self employed mum with no commute to lure me away from my warm pit and pot of tea so yes, I put my pyjamas on as early as humanly possible (the earliest recorded so far this year is 3:30 pm). Yes, the PJs get fluffier as the days get colder and yes, I'm sure all my clients are glad I work remotely (no accountability for attire needed here, thank you.) So, if you're prone to procrastinate or hibernate when the sun goes to bed for a few months, how best to stay motivated and productive in winter?
Get Some Fresh Air
This, for me, is the key. In the summer, I love heading out for a walk or run at anytime of day, but somehow in winter it hasn't always seemed so enticing. But, I find if I set myself the target of walking at least 10,000 steps a day, or to walk mid-morning and afternoon for a brisk podcast-in-earphones stroll, fully layered up in hats, thermals, boots, and mud, my mind is infinitely more relaxed, focused, and productive.
I love the bracing, icy air and cold winter vistas, and the lure of a warm coffee shop or pub to end up (with a roaring fire to warm the cockles, of course). Making movement part of my daily routine in winter really helps keep my sanity in check, some air in my lungs, and just prevents that hibernation slump of body and mind.
Going nocturnal can be a great help if flexible working allows, and it's something I also wrote about recently as a strategy for self-employed mums to stay sane:
When the winter months rob daylight and vitamin D from us, consider swapping an hour or two of work in the daytime for an evening session if you can. Getting vital vitamin D will help you stay energized over winter, and if you are likely to spend the evening at home, think about exchanging a chunk of time in the evening in place of a sanity-saving break in the day.
Be Productive Outside (Or Somewhere Else)
I have started to dictate blog posts into Evernote on my sanity-saving walks, and use the time to let my mind produce ideas which I can then jot down when I'm home, or record in audio clips to file away later. I have also recorded some behind the scenes vlogs on my travels, sharing tips and advice as I stomp across the fields.
Working remotely and having a reason to travel somewhere is also a sanity saver. Whether it's only to a local café or to a co-working space, preventing isolation can be all the more helpful in winter months.
If SAD plagues you over the darker months, plug and play with a desk lamp and also boost your vitamin D levels with supplements to see you through. Fatigue can set in an make daily tasks feel insurmountable, so give yourself a boost when needed. I find I feel immeasurably better when I eat well, move more, and boost what needs to be boosted.
Go With The Flow And Rest
There is a lot to be said also for just going with the circadian flow of things and letting hibernation take over to a certain extent without losing productivity. Rest and reflection are invaluable precursors to bursts of world domination activity, so embrace the fires, comfort food, and darkness to rest and recoup.
This can be a great period for reading, learning, listening, and reflecting before Spring rocks up keenly with a new lease of life. I am currently working my way through loads of podcasts, books, talks, videos and lectures, and feeding my mind as I potter about or travel.
Staying productive in Winter [Medium]
Jo Gifford is a designer, writer, blogger, illustrator and creativity addict who teaches creative ideas for online content creators, business owners, and self-employed mums online at The Dexterous Diva.