Maintaining Study Productivity in the Winter Months
As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, it’s not uncommon to find our energy levels dropping with it. When you’re experiencing the ‘winter blues’, it can be tempting to let obligations go and sit by a fire or get into bed earlier, but unfortunately your study schedule doesn’t stop just because it’s cold. Here’s how to boost your productivity levels and beat the winter gloom.
Know your peak times and how they change
Everyone has a different approach to study, so it’s important that you work out a weekly schedule that works for you. Whether you like to do a bit of coursework each night after work, or you prefer to spend a block of time on weekends to complete your assignments, the key to success is finding a pattern of study that suits your individual needs.
While in summer you may wake earlier and get an hour of study in before work, in winter, it’s not uncommon for your early morning or late night habits to change. The key to success is finding a pattern of study that suits your individual needs. So, if that early morning study session just isn’t practical for you in the colder months, reassess your schedule and move some priorities around if you can. Remember, routines should serve you; you shouldn’t be a slave to them.
Bring elements of the outdoors in
Did you know there is actually a condition called SAD – seasonal affective disorder? It’s exactly as it sounds – a disorder that occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Even if you don’t suffer from this condition, the lower light levels that characterise the winter months can have an effect on your serotonin levels and make you feel tired and unmotivated.
Try and study near a window, in daylight hours if at all possible. If you’re working during the day, make sure you take a lunch break and try to get outside for a walk. If you just can’t seem to catch much daylight thanks to your schedule, consider investing in a light therapy box, which emits a bright light designed to mimic daylight, or a light alarm clock, which will wake you up with light rather than a loud alarm.
Another way to bring the outdoors in to your study space is with plants and flowers. Houseplants improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen, helping us feel more awake and focused. They have also been shown to improve our concentration levels and rejuvenate flagging attention spans – just what we need in winter.
Feeling comfortable and motivated in your study environment is a must year-round, otherwise irritation and procrastination will certainly set in. You’ll likely boost the heater, rug up and enjoy comfort foods in winter, and that can certainly help to make you more comfortable in your study space. But, just be wary of getting too comfortable, and becoming sluggish and demotivated. It’s about finding the right balance for you, testing and trying out different locations and setups. While in the warmer months you may have the option to study in your backyard, a park or coffee shop when you need a change of scenery, those options may be limited come winter, so it’s particularly important to get your study space right.
Also read: How to Combat Study Procrastination
Include some weather friendly exercise
There is no doubt that it can be difficult to motivate yourself to leave the house in the colder months, let alone to prioritise exercise. But it is in the winter months that exercise can have the greatest benefit, lifting your mood and refueling your energy levels. Whether that means getting into the gym, doing some exercises at home or going for a walk if the weather permits, any type of exercise can boost your brain power. So, counteract the instinct to curl up on the couch and get your blood pumping.
With all this in mind though, don’t forget to slow down and enjoy some of winter’s charms as well. There may not be scientific proof that a hot chocolate in front of the fire helps your memory, but it can’t hurt!