5 ways to combat the winter slump and stay productive

Whether it’s scrolling endlessly through social media, making our third coffee of the morning, or checking and re-checking the day’s headlines – most of us are guilty of at least some level of procrastination.

Since many people started working from home, some have found that they’re much more productive when far from the distractions of a busy office. Others, however, are seeing their working hours bleed into their evening, interspersed with long periods of procrastination.

The good news is that, like any habit, there are concrete steps you can take to break the procrastination cycle and make yourself more productive. So, read on for our top five tips on how to reset your routine.

1. Minimize distractions

Whatever your go-to is when you’re procrastinating, try to make it as inaccessible as possible. So, if you’re constantly checking your phone, put it in another room, or if social media is your downfall, make sure you log out of all your accounts on your work computer. If your boss and colleagues are on board, you could even consider setting a period of quiet work each day where no meetings are scheduled, and you can switch off email and chat notifications. This will allow you time to get into the zone and focus on your priorities for the day.

2. Eat the frog

Eating the frog is a simple productivity method which tells you to identify your most important yet undesirable task for the day (like eating a frog) and do that first thing in the morning – so you don’t have the chance to put it off. The great thing about this method is that the task you were avoiding will be over with early in the day, giving you a sense of achievement and making the rest of your work feel easier by comparison. If your “frog” is a long task that will take many hours, try dividing it into several, smaller frogs and eat one each day (as long as this fits within your deadline).

3. Give yourself a deadline and a reward

Have you ever heard the expression “work expands to fill the time”? Well, it’s true, if you have all day to do something, it’ll most likely take all day. However if you only have an hour or two, you can probably get it done in that time. So, set yourself a deadline for the task you’re working on, and to sweeten the deal, promise yourself a reward for when you finish. The deadline will create a sense of urgency while the reward will give you something to look forward to.

4. Get organized

Sometimes it can be hard to focus on the task at hand because there are simply so many tasks that need your attention. In this case, organizational tools such as to do lists can help you plan out your day and prioritize your work. This allows you to clear your mind and focus on one task at a time, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to forget anything. The satisfaction of ticking an item off a to do list can also help with motivation.

5. Break it down into manageable chucks

If you have a project on your hands that feels overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller parts and get a couple of the easier tasks ticked off your list first. Starting with small, easy sub-tasks will give you an easy way into a project that seems daunting. Meanwhile, achieving these will give you a confidence boost to take on the larger tasks.

Procrastination is a very common problem; however it can have a big impact on your work and your mental health. The most important tip for dealing with procrastination, therefore, is to forgive yourself. This can help you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood you’ll procrastinate in the future. Rather than fretting over the time you’ve lost to procrastination, try drawing a line under it, forgiving yourself, and focussing on making the most of the time you do have.

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