How to stay productive when it gets dark early

Coldness, darkness and rain – everything in winter brings you fatigue. After it gets dark at 4pm, you may just want to pull out a blanket and watch Netflix in bed. However, you cannot be lazy as there are countless deadlines at the end of the term. You know that tasks are piling up, but your body is unwilling to move. Winter is definitely a season of painful internal struggle, and here is blogger Angel’s advice to stay productive when it gets dark early.

By Angel Sun

Keep your sleep routine

The sudden change in daylight hours can alter our physical and mental condition abruptly, so continuity in your lifestyle is critical. Setting my alarm, I try to wake up and go to bed at a fixed time every day. It guarantees that my working time remains the same no matter what the sunrise and sunset time is. I can have adequate sleeping time and work more productively too. You may not be a morning person like me, but the continuity of your own routine can remind you that nothing has changed. Just work as usual, and don’t be affected by the depressing darkness.  

It can be difficult to not let the dark evenings affect your working patterns. Image: University of Warwick.

Setting targets

At the start of each day, try to list out the tasks you have to finish with their deadlines, and put them into order according to the priority. Following the plan, you can know what you need to do throughout the day and finish them one by one. More importantly, it can give you a sense of urgency, which may be further strengthened if you write with tangible pen and paper. The sense of urgency helps you stay aware of the deadlines and prevent procrastination.

A selection of chocolates and biscuits on top of a keyboard.
Christmas chocolates are a great reward. Image: Angel Sun.

Although you may want to do as much as possible, it is inevitable to have less concentration and motivation after it gets dark. Therefore, I usually do the most demanding and important tasks like writing essays during the day, so that the easy or mindless ones like answering emails and doing housework are saved for when the sun is gone. This timetabling method not only improves the quality of my work, but also ensures that the most crucial tasks have been done even though I would like to stop midway. Yet, everyone organises their tasks differently and is productive at different times. It is pivotal to start planning each day and find out the method that suits you the most.    

Reward yourself

If you always feel tired and unmotivated during the day, setting some ‘checkpoints’ with little rewards between different tasks may be useful. As a foodie, I reward myself with meals and snacks. 1pm is lunchtime, 3pm is snack time, 5pm is fruit time, and 7pm is dinner time. Whenever I feel unmotivated, the crunchy KitKat bar or bowl of succulent grapes drives me to continue working. The rewards can be a short YouTube video or drawing time. Just whatever you like and can make you happy.

Embrace the cosiness

If you push forward your limit, you may achieve something impossible. However, it is unsustainable as you will burn yourself out very soon. Then, why don’t you embrace the cosiness of winter? It does not mean being lazy and doing nothing. Instead, you can work in your own ‘comfort mode’. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, play some soothing music or get your favourite pyjamas at night. Make sure that you treat yourselves well, and don’t feel guilty of taking breaks. Relieving your pressure, the pleasant and comfortable environment can help you overcome the hurdles and winter blues.

After all, winter is a season of joy, celebration and holiday. The exciting Christmas markets, sparkly decorations and warm churros are waiting for you. Winter is not dark at all.  

A person standing in front of a sign that says 'Birmingham's Ankfurt Christmas Market.' It is dark and people are wearing hats and coats.
Image: Angel Sun.
A London street with Christmas lights above the road. There are cars and buses.
Image: Angel Sun.

If you’re one for procrastinating in the winter days, why not take a look at our post on combatting procrastination, or take a look how apps can help you in your studies.

Do you have any tips for staying productive during the winter months? Please share them with our readers! You can tweet us @warwicklibrary or tag us on Instagram @warwicklibrary and we will share some of our favourites!

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