At the start of winter every year, I find myself predictably enamoured with cosy evenings in front of the fire, hot chocolate, steaming soup, and chilly walks wrapped up in woolly scarves and beanies. Just as predictably, about two months in, I find myself increasingly grumpy and decidedly over it. A top of 12 (feels like 6), icy winds, and near-constant rain will do that to a girl. Unlike Game of Thrones, winter isn’t coming – it’s absolutely here. And it is long and cold and relentless – though thankfully, I’m yet to spot any white walkers.
While I usually love working solo from home, in winter – again, about this time of year – it starts to feel a little bit… suffocating. Those all-important trips out of the house – a dash down the road to sit in the park and get some sun, a walk to the supermarket to grab supplies, a quick coffee with a friend – are often relegated to the ‘too hard’ basket. Frankly, in winter, it’s easier to just stay home – and work, work, work.
Not surprisingly, I suspect for many work-from-homers, winter is our most productive time. When it’s pouring rain, there’s not much else to do but knuckle down, focus, and get stuff done. But, I also suspect it’s often the least happy and fulfilling. You know what they say – all work and no play makes Sally a dull girl! Winter is hard not just because of the dreary weather, the chapped lips, and the lack of vitamin D. During this season, I think we’re most prone to letting the old work-life balance get a little out of whack.
So, how do we get the balance back and sustain a sunny state of mind when it’s anything but outside?
I asked my wonderful copywriter pals how they soldier on (preferably minus the Codral) and keep things cheery and bright. Not surprisingly, all of these responses came from Melbourne copywriters who feel my hypothermia pain. My Sydney and Queensland copywriter pals mostly replied with, ‘Winter? What’s that?’ Or I assume they were too busy at the beach to reply 😉
Here are their fab winter-blues-busting tips:
“I knuckle down in warm socks with regular cups of hot tea and try to get ahead in my work. This way, when the clouds part and the sun shows its beautiful warm face, I can take some time off and enjoy!”
“Vitamin D supplements – get your levels checked, I am always low during winter. While it’s tempting to stay indoors and hibernate (especially if you’re an introvert), making plans to socialise or have people over (and rugging up appropriately for such activities) is essential to my well-being. Have a warm weather holiday or even just a mini-break to look forward to.”
“I recommend creating a Spotify playlist of your favourite feel-good summer hits. Best mood booster ever.”
“There are a few things I do during winter to keep my energy levels high – because a few years ago, all I felt was gloom.
– I exercise everyday – getting up before dawn most days, which means I get to see the sunrise (something you usually only see in summer)
– I eat well, and include summery foods in my meal plan (e.g. salads, salmon, berries, etc.)
– I drink coffee, but just as much green tea, and lots of water
– I have flowers on my desk – so it feels like Spring
– I play up-beat music when I’m not working on stuff that requires a lot of focus
– Where possible, I leave my desk to work. This morning I went out to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie to do an initial read of a large document I’m editing. That way, I don’t feel so house-bound and isolated. Sometimes just hearing the clink of cutlery and coffee cups reminds you, you’re not alone.”
“I love winter, but I definitely struggle when it’s cold and grey (which is most days in Melbourne) as I want nothing more than to snuggle up in my trackpants with a hot chocolate. I’ve found the following things help:
– Getting up fairly early and going to the gym
– Putting on “real” clothes instead of staying in trackies/PJs
– Having a hot shower and blow-drying my hair
– Heading out at least once a week for a coffee with a friend
– Eating meals with plenty of protein (carbs make me sleepy!)”
Aren’t these wonderful tips? So easy and simple, yet as Nerissa says (she’s a health writer, so full of health and wellbeing gold!) simple things can make such a difference.
As well as buying some flowers and blow-drying my hair stat, I’m trying these things too:
1 / Turn up the heat: When you first start working for yourself from home, you’re naturally hyper-aware of managing costs. Repeat after me though: feeling comfortable while you work is not an indulgence! Nobody should have to work inside wearing a beanie and mittens. Turn that heater up (or in my case, burn through that firewood) and revel in the comfort. Also remember all that money you’re saving by not commuting. And come tax time, you can claim these costs!
2 / Get outside anyway: Rain, hail, or shine, time outside in nature is good for the soul. This is so core to my wellbeing that I cannot afford to let it slip. On my to-do list – look into a Macpac jacket so I can get outside comfortably whatever the weather.
3 / Maintain human connection: As an introvert, this one is hard for me. Motivating myself to get out and socialise when the sun is shining is challenging enough, let alone when it feels like we’re mid-blizzard. But, it’s gotta be done. Make an afternoon tea date, and stick to it. Have a skype date if that’s more practical. Or, spend an hour around the virtual watercooler on fab groups like the Clever Copywriting Community (seriously, this place is a lifesaver). Every little interaction makes us feel more human and less alone. But perhaps don’t talk the ear off the Woolworths delivery man. Poor guy is on a tight schedule.
4 / Do fun stuff: Winter may be your most productive time, but if you’re not happy while flying through your to-do list, who cares? Health and happiness come first, and you are not your work. Take some time to do whatever fills you up – draw, read, bake a cake, do a yoga class. Winter is naturally a time for rest and reflection, but you still need to find time for the stuff that makes you feel alive.
So, there you have it. Hopefully this helps to make winter a little more bearable as a work-from-homer. Remember, there are only 22 sleeps until spring and sunny days ahead! And hey, if worst comes to worst, and you find yourself fantasising about an office job? Try this amazing perspective shift, care of Alicia Kacar. Close your eyes and transport yourself to the dreaded arch-nemesis of all long-suffering city commuters – a dark, rainy, freezing-cold train platform at 6.00am, day after day after day. Got it? Yup. Suddenly working from home in front of the fire with your ugg boots on and a steaming cup of tea in hand doesn’t seem so bad after all.
So, over to you. How do you make it through winter while working from home? Do tell!