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Workplace expert’s advice to eliminating the unproductive mid-year slump

Getting up and going can be hard on those cold, dark wintry days, and your productivity can wane to the detriment of your employer, or worse, your own business.

A range of studies has found that the weather impacts our emotions and actions, so in the colder months, keeping motivation high in the workplace requires deliberate, targeted and regular steps. If you feel like your motivation levels are fading, here are some effortless ideas to accelerate the motivation engine.

Pick your playlist

Think of your working week as akin to listening to music. Every day, there are songs you can select, platforms you can access and devices you can use – how, where and what you listen to impacts your mood.

While your working week is more complex than listening to music, you can select options to ensure you make the most of each day.

At the start of each, consider what's on your work playlist, be it tasks, meetings or something else.

Plan your day so you do the most energy-intensive tasks when your energy is at its peak. Delete items from your workday playlist that aren't helping you (or others).

Shift the environment

As more of us work from home and transition back to offices in staggered working shifts, there will be options to work in different spaces. Our environment impacts how we work.

Consider, for example, having plants in the room and fresh flowers on your desk. Use brightly coloured pens and folders, and even better, have coloured walls. Colour is scientifically proven to impact how we feel.

If you are working from home, burn incense or use an oil diffuser. Scent also has a powerful impact on your mood.

As much as possible, use natural light, and make sure you go outside the office during the working day to get natural air and sunshine.

Finally, find the noise level that works for you. Some people like background noise, while other people need silence.

Promote healthy activities

You know that exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good about ourselves. When we feel good, it is easy to get started on things that matter.

Go for a walk or run at lunchtime, or find time to step outside and notice what is around you. With the myriad online exercise and yoga options, there are plenty of choices.

Don’t wait for motivation

We have this curious notion that motivation somehow appears. It doesn't. It comes from starting. So don't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike – because it won't.

When you don't want to do something, sit down and set yourself a mini-goal. For example, say to yourself, "I'll work on this task for 15 minutes and after that, I can have a cup of coffee."

It's likely that when you reach the 15-minute mark, you will want to keep going to get the task finished.

You could even talk to your team about what motivates them, and share tips and techniques on what works.

Get connected

Connections at work matter. People in your team want to feel like they belong. Set aside regular times during the winter months for social engagements and opportunities where team members can share, laugh and connect – be it virtual or face to face.

Maintaining secure connections with work colleagues – sharing how you feel, talking to people and being open about experiences – is critical for your health and wellbeing. When the team connects, it creates positive energy, which aids motivation.

Reward yourself

Make sure you have lots of things to look forward to during the winter months. It may be a mini-break, a team lunch, a course you want to complete, or a new book you want to read. Set aside time to rest and recharge so you are balancing your time and energy.

As the author Victor Hugo once said, "Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face."

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert and the author of three books including her latest, Bad Boss: What to Do if You Work for One, Manage One or Are One.

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