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Many books and articles are discussing the best ways to boost productivity.

This is a clear sign that it isn’t an easily attainable goal. Besides, any advice you would get from someone on this topic, you’ll have to test it first and see if it works for you too. 

Imagine the extra challenge marketers have to face during the winter months when they have to handle different projects and collaborate with many stakeholders while battling the winter blues. 

Why Does Winter Mess with Our Concentration?

The wintertime brings social jetlag, says chronobiologist Till Roenneberg.

This means our internal clock is not in sync with the 9-5 working schedule. An ideal situation would be to start your daily work schedule later and go to sleep earlier.

But with so much stuff going on in the workplace to get everything done before Christmas, this may not be a solution for everyone.

So what can you do to keep up with the winter blues? Here are a few general tips:

  1. Get your daily dose of magnesium and vitamin D to combat winter anxieties, lack of concentration, and to boost your mood.
  2. Make to-do lists of your activities outside of work. We usually do this only for the work tasks, but Dr. Sharon Saline says it helps tremendously if you have a list of things you enjoy doing outside work.
  3. Get fresh air daily. This will help energize your brain while telling you it’s still daytime, which means work time.

Being productive is a must when everyone expects results, so we’ve reached out to 11 marketers. One of them is our very own Product Marketing Specialist, Doriana, and asked them about their tips regarding productivity and creativity during winter.

Let’s see their answers:

bannersnack.com-productivity-during-winter

1. Turn around negative feelings

Jay Acunzo, Founder at Marketing Showrunners, has an intriguing and not so common perspective on what sparks creativity.

Jay AcunzoFrustration. (Yep: frustration.) The job of a creator isn’t to “drive leads” or “rank #1” or “generate sales.” The job is to make a difference. You’re supposed to create consistently valuable things — things that help others in some way. 

For me, but also for most creators I’ve met, the ideas and the motivation both seem sparked by frustration. Something is broken about the status quo, or under-explored, or curiously not being discussed, or frustratingly stuck or stale, and so you embark on a journey to figure out why and to find something better. 

Winter months get cold and dark here in my home area of Boston, but even if you live someplace warm and sunny year-round, you’re a problem-solver and an evangelist for good ideas. 

Start with frustration. Figure out the problems that you can’t stand and wish would go away. Then go create the world you want to live in. Don’t make some content. Make a difference.

2. Visualize your goals

One of the best ways to reach a goal is to see it or think about it constantly. The same goes for productivity.

Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Orbit Media Studios, Inc.

Andy Crestodina

Track your goals visually. This is one of the best ways to stay motivated and productive all winter long. Last year, I set a goal of doing 5,000 pull-ups (which is about 12 per day), and to stay on track, I put a piece of graph paper on the wall with 1000 squares (one square = 5 chin-ups). And then I signed my name at the top.

 Every day, I recorded my progress. I watched the boxes slowly fill up. I knew I was getting closer. I could feel it. 

I crushed that goal and doubled it for 2020. I’m almost done with my 10,000 chin-ups this year. Next year? Maybe 20,000. With visual goal tracking, I’m 100% confident I’ll get there.

3. Embrace the stillness of the cold weather

Sometimes the best thing to do is to embrace the wintertime when there’s nowhere to go. Creativity and productivity will make their way and help you get things done.

Jay Baer, founder at Convince and Convert, says: 

Jay Baer

It’s easier to stay productive in the winter because I don’t spend any time boating on the weekends. That’s the good thing about living somewhere where you can’t be on the water year-round!

 Over the holiday season, I also find more people are on vacation, so the volume of client calls and meetings (internal get-togethers, too) goes down, so there’s more time available to execute. I’ll probably get more done in November than any other month this year. 

4. Take stress as a professional challenge

For a marketer, the holiday stress is, after all, a challenge. Some choose to make the best of it and test themselves.

Lauren Branich, Director of Digital Marketing and Business Development at NewsCenter1 Media Group:

Lauren Branich

The holidays. For some, it is one of the most stressful times of the year, couple that with a global pandemic and accelerated deadlines, and you have a creative person’s worst nightmare. 

I like to take this time of year on as a professional challenge to close out the year on a strong note, which allows the new year to come in to view with a fresh set of creative eyes.

For me, this starts with planning each and every day with clear and obtainable goals. In the early morning hours before the house is awake, I take the time to look through my work calendar and visualize my day. I review talking points I want to make in my various meetings and my task list so I can fill space in my day with projects that I believe I can accomplish with the allotted time.

It’s not a system that will work for everyone, but I find a great sense of accomplishment when I am able to get through everything I set out to do each day. The great part for me is if I miss my self-assigned target, tomorrow brings a new day and a new opportunity to “get it all done.” 

I suppose all of this could be said much more simply; take on each day as a new day and leave yesterday’s shortcomings with yesterday.

5. Schedule inspirational breaks

Your head can get cluttered, too, as a room full of clothes thrown around. Know the importance of taking a break to clear your mind and fill it with great ideas. 

Margaret Petta, Digital Marketing Specialist at Rocket Digital: 

Margaret PrettaThe holiday season can be a very busy time. Amongst fast-paced projects and year-end deadlines, it can often be hard to find time to spark creativity or prevent a creative rut. 

To help, we schedule breaks from the day-to-day work to look for inspiration for current and future ad campaigns and design projects. We often look to other holiday campaigns or research technology and design trends that could bring new creative momentum. 

The inspiration break helps our team feel refreshed and ready to meet the deadlines when we return to our production schedule. It also helps us to stay current and make any necessary changes we feel could really drive results for our clients.  

6. Create a personalized plan

If you’re a person that loves planning in general, expand that to your daily work routine. This will surely help your creativity and productivity.

Heidi Cohen, Chief Marketing Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide:

Heidi CohenWhile maintain productivity and creativity during holidays and other disruptive times (such as the pandemic) can be challenging, I use these 3 tactics to keep my professional and personal goals on track for long-term success: 

  1. Build these 3 key daily habits. They include journaling (Hat tip: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), physical exercise (even if I can’t use the gym), and getting 8+ hours of sleep.
  2. Plan your work and personal projects in advance. This includes breaking projects into easy-to-complete smaller tasks and scheduling daily time for deep work (Hat tip: Cal Newport’s Deep Work). It helps to set your “To Do” list the night before.
  3. Handle communications (including email, text messages, social media, and phone calls) during the scheduled time each day. Allow about a half to one hour per day. Also, unless otherwise necessary, don’t deal with these communications until after you’ve done your journaling and deep work. 

BONUS: Forgive yourself if your work doesn’t go as planned. Just get up the next day and start fresh.

7. Allot time for unplanned breaks 

You can plan your days to the minute, and your usual bus can still be late. Think about those things too. Make room for delays and other recreational activities.

Bjarke Bekhøj, Direktør, Partner at Become ApS knows a day consists of breaks, too. This makes it easier to plan.

BjarkeMy way of staying productive and creative is a combination of two things: empty time and external inputs.

Empty time means I need time where I have nothing to do; it can be a walk – waiting time during transportation or just sitting while looking out of the office window.

External inputs are stimuli within my field from others. By that, I mean campaigns, ads, and so on from other companies and competitors. I follow other companies, reading advertising pro websites, and being a consumer myself.

8. Manage your energy, not just your schedule

Marijana Kay, freelance SaaS content marketer, knows that managing her personal time with working hours is essential for a freelancer. This creates a perfect balance between working and relaxing while your energy stays harmonized.

Here are some of my initial thoughts on staying creative and productive during winter:

  1. I tweak my daily and weekly schedule to match shorter days. When daylight savings comes around, I know my energy quickly drops around 3pm. But because mornings are somewhat brighter and earlier, I find it easier to wake up energized. Because of this, I focus on my most creative work first thing after I sit down to work and try not to focus on anything else until noon. This way, the early darkness doesn’t affect my creativity and output as much. It’s more about managing energy than time, really!
  2. I always aim for lots of time off around Christmas and New Year. Everything slows down, including my clients (most of which are out of office then), so I never force myself to counteract that. For the past few years, I’ve taken between one and three weeks completely off work across December and January, and it’s my time to fully recharge, spend lots of time with family and friends, read fiction, and focus on my home.

9. Take internet breaks

Andréa Jones, Social Media Strategist, is the perfect example that too much social media is a productivity and creativity blocker. You have to know when and how to be active on social media and leave room for other things, too.

Andrea JonesDespite being a social media manager, I find that constantly being “on” social media is a huge detriment to my productivity and my creative flow.

My #1 productivity hack when it comes to social media, especially during the holidays, is to turn off notifications. By removing the blips, bloops, vibrates, and pop-ups, we actually save so much time because we’re not task switching. Instead, I replace it with one notification that’s a task in Asana to check social media each day. 

As for creativity, I find that the comparison game is tough, especially during the holidays, as people are more apt to share their best moments on social media. Instead of the endless scroll, I turn to books and even tv shows to boost my creative flow state, which makes my content creation time more impactful and fun.

10. Adjust your working schedule to your natural rhythm

Brittany Berger, Founder at Work Brighter and Content Marketing Strategist, shows us that you simply cannot force productivity and creativity. You have to find that thing that keeps you going.

Brittany BergerI manage to stay productive by trying not to force things too much. I’m a big advocate of energy management and following the natural rhythms of your body and brain as much as your lifestyle allows. 

It can seem counterintuitive at first, but work gets so much easier because of it. For example, when I first started working remotely, I tried to follow the same schedule of writing all afternoon that I did in in-person offices. And writing would take all afternoon, including forcing myself to work through my afternoon slump. 

But eventually, I adjusted my schedule to take a TV break *before* writing time, and going into the work with a more refreshed mind cut down how difficult and time-consuming the writing ended up being.

11. Build a schedule around your energy

Doriana Antohi, Product Marketing Specialist at Creatopy, works around her own disposition, knowing exactly how to differentiate leisure from work all year-round.

Doriana AntohiI am a very active and organized person, so I try to plan my work schedule around that. During the time before the winter holiday, I act no different.

Weekends are for family time and sometimes hiking and other physical activities.

When Monday starts, I switch the working mode back on. Here I have a few guidelines I made for myself:

  1. I plan my day by assigning specific blocks of time for each task. A few extra minutes are added to each task if things don’t go as planned. This way, you can avoid unnecessary feelings of blaming yourself. Even on the busiest day, I still make room for reading something for myself. If it’s not possible during the day, I wake up earlier.
  2. Now, if I have a plan, I stick to it—no jumping between tasks and certainly no multitasking. That’s a myth. We’re switching between tasks but never multitasking.

Nothing goes unplanned. I have my daily tasks organized in a place where only I have access, and then there are the bigger assignments related to other teammates or departments, which are visible to my entire team on a Kanban board.

On a Final Note

There are general views regarding productivity, like take a daily walk to clear your head, take a lot of breaks during the day or listen to music as a mood booster (there are playlists made especially for that).  

As you read in this article, each person has their own way of getting things done during the winter holiday. See if anything from what they said works for you too.

After all, they are experts in their field. They got there by being productive.

Amalia Madalina Pop
Content Marketing Specialist at Creatopy. Always looking through rose-colored glasses type of person. Really passionate about content creation and movies, with a precise aspiration to watch as many as possible in a lifetime.

3 Comments

  1. Amalia–

    Thank you for including me in this useful roundup.

    Who doesn’t need help with productivity during the holidays?

    BTW–I love this line: “The wintertime brings social jetlag!”

    Happy Marketing,
    Heidi
    Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide

  2. Heidi, we thank you for the useful tips.

    It’s true—everything work-related seems to move slower during wintertime, and we need all the help we can get to be productive.

    Stay safe and full of creativity!

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