An Administrative Professional’s Guide to Thriving in Winter

The right mindset and a little self-care can make January and February more pleasant and productive. Research shows these six tactics work.

If early sunsets and colder temperatures put a damper on your spirits, you’re not alone. More than 40 percent of respondents in a recent Staples InsidersNetwork poll said they feel more sluggish during the winter months.

No matter how you feel about winter, though, the show must go on. Meetings need to be scheduled, projects planned and crises managed. To tackle it all, you need to be at your best.

Try these six tactics to stay energized and productive.

Make an action plan

The start of the year is a good time for setting goals — and, just as importantly, making a plan to achieve them. For example, if one of your goals is to land a promotion, think carefully about what you need to do to make that happen. Write down your goals and the steps you’ll take toward them — research has shown that committing your goals to writing significantly boosts your odds of achieving them. To stay on track, mark related dates in your calendar — for instance, registering for and attending a certification course, or contacting vendors for a high-profile event.

Tackle nagging projects

If January and February tend to be quiet at your company, use the lull to take on a project that could be hard to get to otherwise. One-quarter of respondents in the Staples poll report doing this to make their winter months more productive. Perhaps it’s setting up an improved filing system, reorganizing the neglected supply closet or learning new software. Completing a project like this will give you a sense of accomplishment that can propel you forward on others.

Switch up your surroundings

Seemingly small steps like swapping out old photos for new ones, bringing in a new coffee mug or even hanging up a fun wall calendar can liven up your workspace and lift your mood. (Check out these ideas for more decorating inspiration.) The new year could also be a time to change up lighting or even test out a new seating arrangement, if possible. Not all your workspace pick-me-ups need to be visual — find some fun teas to drink, or create a playlist or two for the new year. Nearly 3 in 10 respondents in the Staples poll said they use music as a wintertime mood-booster.

Seek out sunlight

The mood and productivity benefits of natural light are well-established, so make a point of getting outside each day — especially if natural light in your workspace is lacking. Build a short walk into your routine before or during the workday. Working some movement into your schedule can give you an extra mental boost. If you stay up late, consider shifting your sleep schedule so that you go to bed and get up a little earlier to add more daylight hours to your day.

Get social

If you’re struggling with the winter blahs, others at your office probably are, too. Make an extra effort to socialize with your colleagues — invite them to lunch, suggest an afternoon coffee run, arrange a volunteer event. If you do these things already, consider picking up the frequency. Learn about your colleagues’ interests outside of work — that could spur ideas for a group outing. Strengthening social bonds can both make the winter more enjoyable and make the workplace better.

Eat well

It can be easy to go for carbohydrate-rich snacks and sweets during the winter months. But, overdoing it on those could make you feel more sluggish — and could even dampen your mood. Stock up on herbal teas and healthy snacks for the office; they can help keep cravings at bay. Drink enough water, and limit caffeine to help with sleep. Maintaining a reasonably healthy diet can make it easier to stick to other healthy habits, like exercise, which helps keep stress levels in check. That can serve you well not only during the winter months, but throughout the rest of the year as well.