When you work from home in the winter, make no mistake—you are in a fight. You are in a fight with your natural tendency to give into laziness and stop working; you are in a fight with the elements outside that keep you locked up in the house. Learn how to take control of each day and overwhelm this resistance, and you will find that you can still remain productive, even in the unforgiving winter months.
Don’t Get Stuck In the House
One of the greatest enemies of someone working at home is cabin fever. Once the workday is off and running and you’ve been glued to your desk for a couple of hours, the compulsion is to never leave your home office (that’s why you have a home business, after all). But in the cold, dreary months, it is vital to utilize every opportunity to leave the house, when you can. Do all meetings take place over the phone or video chat? How about bringing everybody out in public for a face-to-face, instead? You can also consider taking a day or two out of the week to work from a coffee shop, or the office of a partner. Even if the day’s work does not justify leaving the house, find an excuse to spend an hour or two off the premises. The key is to engage your senses and get the blood flowing from time to time.
The Outside World
Subconsciously, your mind begins to believe on some level that you are truly isolated from the rest of the world when there is virtually no environmental distinction between meals, sleep, work, family, and personal time. You have to combat this isolation by actively reminding yourself that life is taking place outside of your home. Connect with friends, stop by a newsstand and check out what’s going on—whatever you have time for, but it’s good to stay in touch with the outside world so you don’t get trapped in the microcosm of your office.
Account for Well-Being in Your Schedule
Keeping your spirits up while working from home, especially during winter, is serious business. You design your schedule to make sure you stay on task and don’t miss any meetings—so why not also include taking care of yourself on the official schedule? Business owners tend to give precedence to taking care of work, even at the expense of their own emotional and physical health. Don’t let your personal well-being become an afterthought to your business. When you carve out a regular time every day for exercise, relaxation, or just getting out of the house for a while, you raise the priority level of your health—and that’s what we need to stay productive.
Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression afflicting millions of Americans during the winter months. You don’t have to be suffering from depression to benefit from light therapy, and it is an easy, proven method to regulate mood during the cold season. Install one of these specialized “light boxes”, or even simply use full-spectrum light bulbs in your lamps, and you’ll instantly put some life back into your home office. This kind of light mimics the light of the sun, which of course we don’t get enough of naturally during the winter, and it can really make a difference in your mood when you’re fighting the winter blues.
Plan Company Trips
You wake up, get dressed, walk into your office, and get down to business, every day. Breaking up the monotony by getting out of the house is one thing, but we also need things to look forward to, or else our daily obligations will become chores with no end in sight. Planning a company outing, dinner, or casual gathering is a great way to keep you and your team motivated because you will have a more positive attitude towards work if you can anticipate a reward at the end of each week or month, whatever your schedule allows for.
You don’t want to end up like Jack Torrance in The Shining. Fortunately, you’re probably not trapped in a huge, empty hotel in the middle of an arctic wasteland with a book to write. You have friends, family, and resources to help you stay motivated and productive during the winter. Don’t neglect yourself, be diligent, and you will find that staying on task is easier than you thought.
Having trouble staying productive? Here are some recommended daily habits for business owners:
10 Productive Daily Habits for Small Business Owners