Although spring has just arrived here in Australia, winter is coming for our friends in the northern hemisphere.
“I’d never get anything done if I worked from home”.
People say that to me a lot. And to be honest, it’s how I feel all too often. There are sooooo many other things I could be doing around here, instead of hitting my desk and tapping out a thousand words on the inner workings of superannuation.
And it’s never harder than in winter.
It’s comfy, warm and cosy in bed. It’s so chilly out there that I don’t want to move. Seriously, where’s the incentive to get up and write? Especially when I could get away with leaving the work for another day.
But as any freelancer knows, drag your heels today and suddenly you don’t have time for the lucrative, urgent job that comes in tomorrow…
So here (from one reformed procrastinator to another) are five pro tips for freelancers on winter productivity.
Work to your own rhythm
Possibly the best thing about freelancing is that it doesn’t matter when you do the work, as long as you get it done. Instead of forcing yourself to keep conventional hours, you’ll be most effective if you tap into your body’s tempo and work when you’re most alert – whenever that is.
So if you’re not a morning person – or you’re only a warm weather morning person – go ahead and have that lie-in. Work from midday until 8 pm. Work late into the night, when all your nine-to-five friends are tucked up in bed. Working with The Copy Collective lets you do whatever suits you best – but do make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Do something first to get you going
The chillier it is, the longer it seems to take to get the brain firing. Some winter mornings, it can feel like you just don’t have a coherent word in you.
Doing something else vaguely productive (like house chores, paying bills or hacking at something in the garden) can help wake you up and give your brain – and your confidence – a boost before you sit down to work.
I’m very sorry, but I’m going to use the ‘e’ word. Every motivational post you ever read will tell you how much ‘exercise’ helps with body and brain function ‘blah blah blah’ – and that it’s especially important in winter (when you’re more inclined to hibernate).
But wake-up exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating. Getting outside for a half hour walk (even if you’re bundled under numerous layers of wool and a waterproof sheet) really can help to clear out the cobwebs. Honest.
Make yourself comfortable
Fact: cold fingers don’t type well. And it’s pretty hard to focus on work, when you are shivering. So before you start work each day, put the heater on, dig out the old-lady lap rug and make sure your office is a comfortable place to work.
Oh, and don’t forget to compensate for the shorter, grey days with some extra lighting so you don’t feel like you’re working in a cave.
If you’re really struggling with motivation, there are some great apps out there to help you form better habits and stick to them (I love Habit List for iOS).
Obviously an app can’t generate willpower out of thin air. However a good tool can help you track how you’re doing, build a more productive lifestyle and keep the inspiration flowing on those chilly, darker winter days when your bed looks so very inviting.