Tips for Beating the January Blues: Staying Motivated and Increasing Productivity

I work from home and typically that suits me but sometimes in the winter months it’s harder for me to find the motivation to keep at it. I don’t know about you, but this year I’m really feeling the January blues. Maybe it is because the holiday vacation was a little longer and knocked away my routines, or maybe it is because I am trying to navigate my shifting role in a project that has consumed me for much of last year, either way I am sluggish, cranky and a little unmotivated.

I also live in a townhouse, which I love, but it means that direct sunlight is limited and that the brightness can shift depending on the season. Often on the nicest, sunniest days outside it is the darkest on the inside of my house. So, instead of working away in the darkness, I’ve moved my desk to the one spot where the sun is bright – my bedroom. Surrounded by green plants and sunshine, my outlook has already improved. Even though it’s January on the outside that doesn’t mean it has to feel that way inside.

Here are some other things that help my productivity when I am in a rut:

  • Create a routine / ritual before you begin working– mine is clearing off everything from my desk. Fixing a tall glass of hot water or tea, and turning on classical music.
  • Listen to classical music – Listening to classical music helps me focus and gets me in the mindset to work. Baroque is actually proven to increase productivity.
  • Work in 30 minute focused intervals – I set a timer and work on exclusively one thing at a time. No multi-tasking allowed.
  • After those 30 minutes are up, get up and move around – I actually have a trampoline that I jump on – weird maybe, but fun.
  • Set smaller goals – This one is hard for me. I’m very driven, but have found that small consistent steps versus inconsistent grand sweeping ones yield the biggest results and satisfaction. They also relieve the pressure of having a long list of unaccomplished to-dos at the end of the day.
  • Track the goals that you do set – I use my goal tracker to log my daily goals. Whether I am meeting my exercise goals or remembering to call a friend, they are noted so I can see my progress. It’s motivating to try not to “break the chain”.

  • Making space – When I need to feel grounded the most, my physical and virtual spaces are usually cluttered. I like to literally clean my desk off before working and then do the same with my computer desktop. My folder structure is “inbox” “artwork” “inspiration” and “current projects”. Everything goes into one of these instead of sitting on my desktop and is filed often.
  • Create a calmer environment – I change my desktop wallpaper to be a simple, inspiring nature image without too much going on. My brain is already processing enough and usually working though a lot of issues when I am the most stressed out, this helps me not have to take in more “clutter” than I need.
  • Essential oils – I actually set out a small bowl of water filled with a few drops of essential oils before I begin working as well. Here are 6 scents that can improve your productivity.
  • Wall of “heros” – This one is kind of corny but I print out a sheet filled with inspiring women and other business “heros” and prop it where I can see it. This visual reminder of some of the people who inspire me the most reminds me what I am working towards and that not all women have this privilege.
  • List your accomplishments – I also have an ongoing list of accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on the negative things that have happened, I actually keep a list of all the professional accomplishments I’ve achieved and small goals that I’ve worked towards and mastered. When I’m feeling in the dumps I open it up and realize that things aren’t really as gloomy as they seem – that life is good and evolving.
  • Take time for yourself – Finally, I try to make it a habit to take a “me” day once a week where I explore a new part of town, a thrift shop, or drive along the backcountry roads with my camera in hand. These things recharge and inspire me and keep my creativity flowing.

I have more thoughts on balancing work and motherhood as well as dealing with stress over on design*sponge.

What do you do to get rid of the winter doldrums? Do you do any of the tricks above?

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