Stay productive during the winter months

Those of us in the United States (except Hawaii and Arizona) turned the clock back one hour over the weekend to reclaim the 60 minutes we lost when Day Light Saving Time started. Originally, Day Light Saving Time was instituted to save energy, not necessarily to capture time. But, the change in time during the winter (verses the spring), though a seemingly good one (most of us crave an extra hour to sleep), can still take some getting used to.

If the new change disrupts your usual way of doing things or your sleep schedule, you’re probably not going to be very productive. And, since the days are a bit shorter during the winter, you may want to make a few adjustments. The key to staying on top of things and ensuring that your productivity doesn’t slip might be to:

Stick to your regular nightly routine

Getting enough sleep will have an impact on how much you can accomplish on a consistent basis. Now that you have an extra hour to play with, you might think it’s a good idea to go to bed much later. Instead, consider going to sleep at your usual time and get up when you would normally for a few days and then gradually make slight adjustments. Try turning in for the night about 15-20 minutes later and slowly increase that to 60 minutes over a week or two to get your body (and mind) accustom to the change. If you have children, you can use the same strategy to help them get acclimated as well.

Get more sunlight

A recent article in the Columbian discussed the importance of getting out during the light hours. “In general, darkness stimulates our body to want to sleep. Chemicals in our brains actually get triggered because of the darkness. That can lead to fatigue …”

This will likely be the case during the winter as it’s probably dark when you leave for work and also when it’s time to head back home. This means you’ll get less exposure to sunlight, unless you sit by a window during working hours (or use a light box), be sure to spend some time outdoors to soak up some rays (perhaps during your lunch break). Include a brisk walk or a light jog around the block and you’ll likely increase your energy level, improve your ability to get things done, and have a better chance at having a good night’s sleep.

Keep doing what works

Of course, if you’re using a strategies that have been working well for you (tackling important projects when you’re most alert, delegating some tasks, staying hydrated throughout the day, using a “done” list or a timer, etc.), you should keep up with them. If you haven’t found strategies successfully that fit your process style, this is a great opportunity to start investigating uncluttering, time management, or productivity routines that would best suit you.

Though it may be challenging to stay productive during the winter months, you can still find ways to keep your energy high and stay on top of all you need to do. As I often mention, not every tip will be a good fit for everyone, but try one or two of the suggestions above to see how well they work for you.

7 Comments for “Stay productive during the winter months”

  1. posted by Mattress Stores St Louis on

    Making sure to get quality sleep and enough water (two things I had not been doing before) have really helped me stay focused and energized to continue getting stuff done faster..

  2. posted by penelope on

    I think that Illinois also doesn’t do time changes. Frankly, I think changing time is stupid – you are merely changed the hours of darkness/lightness not the actually time spent in darkness/lightness. The changes only have a benefit at one time during the day and the advantage (such as it is) only lasts for a short period, until the days get really short of lightness.

  3. posted by Kate on

    I was just talking about this with a colleague recently. I think it’s important to stay productive and do the things you need to do to live a healthy and happy life (exercise, eat vegetables, play with your children), etc. No-one wants to spend the entire fall/winter on the couch.

    BUT I also think it’s okay to honor the fact that your body is part of nature and is impacted by the changing seasons — you’re not going to feel the same in January as you do in July. If you feel a little lower energy, or quieter, or need a bit more rest, I think that’s okay, as long as you’re meeting your own basic needs!

  4. posted by Ottawa Self Storage Specialist on

    Getting enough rest is also important so you can have enough energy to do your daily routine. Aside from your usual dailies, what do you normally do on winter that you don’t do on any other season? Well, me and my family enjoy hot cups of choco while playing charades.

  5. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I find that I’m less energetic in summer and if I’m in a location that uses daylight wasting (i.e. changes the clocks) it’s worse as my body wants to go to bed a certain amount of time after the sun goes down which then becomes 11:30 pm rather than 10:30pm but I still have to get up when the alarm buzzes.

    I’m glad I live in a state that doesn’t have it but we still get the same tired arguments trotted out by the pro camp at this time of year. My answer is, if you want to make use of the morning light, by all means, get up an hour earlier and do a load of laundry or some other household chore that you otherwise put off because you’re too tired when you get home after work – no-one’s stopping you.

  6. posted by Andrea on

    Penelope, you may be thinking of Indiana, which for the most part didn’t do time changes until about 2006 and is now in step with most of the rest of the country.

  7. posted by cathleen on

    I am one of those people who really notices (and dreads) the change in light this time of year. I have to make adjustments (my husband seems to like the darkness, ugh)

    As a sun-lover here is what I’ve been doing and I’ve noticed I’m dealing with energy levels and moods much better this year.

    Turn on bright lights when home in all rooms I’ll be in (I save plenty of energy by using no heat so I’m okay with this)

    Exercise first thing in the morning before work.
    If for some reason I can’t exercise in the AM, then as soon as I get home (bright light in garage/gym)

    Book interesting things to do during the week when it’s dark (meet ups with friends, etc.) so I don’t get home and want to run to put on the PJs.

    Prep dinner for the next night so I’m keeping active and not sitting on the couch with the iPad for hours

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