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When your motivation freezes in winter: 5 tips to stay on track

We all know that, when winter hits, it can be a tough time to keep working. It’s dark when you wake up, cold when you go outside, sweaty when you take off all your layers, and miserable when you catch someone else’s germs. But even though your hours of daylight are shorter, neither your boss nor teacher is going to accept lousy work. You have to cram in just as much efficiency as you would any other season.

So how can you continue to be productive? Here are five tips.

1) Sleep the right amount

It’s no secret that human nature is to become cranky and unproductive when overtired, no matter what age you are. Rest is always important to recharge your physical and mental batteries. It’s slightly easier to get out of bed in the morning when you had your eight hours. That means turning off the TV, computer and phone by midnight the latest, possibly pulling out a good book, and getting comfortable and cozy before you nod off for the night. If you need a nap later on in the day, try to squeeze it in by 6 pm and only for half an hour so it doesn’t throw off your entire sleep schedule.

2) Keep drinking

We rely on caffeine a lot for good reason, but it’s important to stay hydrated too. Coffee doesn’t count as a liquid; it’s a stimulant. So if you’re a regular Starbucks or Tim Horton’s drinker, or even if you're not, remember to keep your reusable water bottle around all day. Water is essential for anyone and it actually helps to keep your brain lucid. Headaches, fatigue and poor concentration are all linked to dehydration. And hey, a washroom break is a good excuse to get away from your desk for a few minutes!

3) Eat regularly, but consciously

Skipping meals is an absolute no-no because going without food for three hours or more causes blood sugar to drop and, in turn, causes energy to plummet. However, shoveling in breakfast or lunch is not the solution either. Take a few minutes to grab something healthy – a substantial salad that’s not overdosed with dressing, an avocado and veggie sandwich on hearty bread, or oatmeal with almond milk and fruit – and eat without distractions. Keep your texting or chatting to a minimum so you can concentrate on digestion.

4) Curb your bad snacking

Being cold outside and getting cabin fever inside is an obvious recipe for junk food cravings. But reaching for chips or cookies will likely make you feel worse and lead to a horrible lack of productivity. It’s also hard to stop once you get started and, before you know it, the whole package has magically disappeared. Unfortunately, winter tends to make us lazy too but, in that case, grab something easy but healthy like a clementine, banana, small tomatoes or nuts.

5) Stay warm

It’s hard to concentrate if your teeth are chattering or your hands are freezing. Keep the weather, as well as comfort, in mind when you get dressed in the morning. Add some layers you can easily remove or toss back on as needed throughout the day, like a cardigan or zip-up sweatshirt. Wear thick socks and waterproof boots, as well as a warm hat, gloves and scarf. If you spend the day in an office, bring work-appropriate shoes with you in a tote bag.

Small talk regularly turns to weather because it's one of the main aspects of day-to-day life we have in common with our neighbours, friends and colleagues. But instead of spreading dismay about the cold, try spreading a positive attitude! That can help boost productivity, too.

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