How to Be Productive on the Shortest Day of the Year
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, with some cities in the Northern Hemisphere experiencing less than an hour of daylight.
In 2019, the shortest day of the year falls on the 22nd of December. With as many as one third of the UK population experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder in the dark days of winter, causing low mood and a lack of motivation, how can you boost your productivity?
We’re here to give you the tips and tricks you need to remain productive, even when those winter blues intensify.
Set Clear and Realistic Goals
There’s nothing more demoralising than putting yourself under pressure and failing to meet a lofty goal.
Not only will this ruin your motivation at the time, it can also prevent you from feeling positive about the activity in future. By setting achievable goals, you can enjoy a sense of satisfaction while still pushing yourself.
Use a SMART goal format to ensure that you’ve created goals that are right for you and that will really contribute towards your success. Whether you want to finish an academic assignment, master a new skill, or complete a project at work, setting the right goals forms a roadmap for success.
Become a Prioritisation Pro
When you have a never-ending list of things to do, it can feel so overwhelming that you don’t know where to begin. Prioritising tasks accordingly can reduce this strain and ensure that you complete the most important ones first.
At the beginning of your day, create a list with the items that you need to complete that day. From there, you can break down the rest of your tasks into further categories focusing on the things you’d like to do and tasks that can be moved to another day.
Many people find the matrix set out in ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’ useful to prioritise tasks. This splits tasks into the following quadrants:
- Urgent – Important
- Not Urgent – Important
- Urgent – Not Important
- Not Urgent – Not Important
By sorting your tasks into this matrix, you can really think about the amount of time and headspace they should be taking up.
Follow the Two Minute Rule
This rule can dramatically increase your productivity, as you cut down on wasted time. The idea is that if a task takes two minutes or less, then you should do it now! Instead of delaying a task to a later date, you tackle it head-on and free up time later in the day.
Using this rule in combination with your prioritised to-do list to work your way through tasks with ease. While two minutes isn’t a long time, this can be used to achieve much larger goals if you break them down effectively.
Small tasks like tidying up or improving your environment can also be helpful. Quickly doing the dishes or clearing your desk can set you up to get on with your goals for the day in a nicer space.
Reducing distractions and focusing on a single task can be tough, especially if you’re in the habit of jumping from one task to another. Retraining your brain is key here, so be mindful of correcting yourself as your attention gets split between tasks.
Checking your phone and emails can also damage your productivity, as this creates a break in your concentration. Ofcom found that the average British adult checks their phone every 12 minutes, which represents a serious break in concentration five times an hour!
You might think that you can organise a night out with your friends while you simultaneously listen to a lecture, but splitting your concentration will make you worse at both tasks. Avoid these distractions until a designated break if you want to make the most of your time.
Get into a Routine
Strict routines are often cited by famous business people as the key to their success. These often-unconventional routines can start early and end late, but yours doesn’t have to be as intense!
By creating a routine, you take a lot of the guesswork out of your day and build stronger habits. Indecision and demotivation can use up a lot of your time, as you attempt to decide what to do next. With the right routine, you’ll move easily from task to task and even fit in the occasional break.
Creating a schedule that’s flexible enough to accommodate last-minute tasks, while still offering the rigidity you need to stay on track, is ideal. This can take some trial and error, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it exactly right first time.
Tracking your time can also give you that sense of accountability that you need to stay on schedule. Tools like Toggl are free and allow you to track and allocate your time to different projects – not only will this show you the breakdown of your day, you can also get an overview of how much time you spend overall on different tasks.
Making the most of your time and organising it wisely will help you to get the results you want, during the winter solstice and beyond. Use these productivity hints and tips to reach your goals throughout the year.