The Month Long Monday - Overcoming the January Blahs

I always have a hard time getting back into the groove after the holidays. It’s now the third week of January and I’m still finding my energy flagging. Whether it’s the cold and short days Seattle brings this time of year or lingering fatigue from the holidays, I’m once again dragging myself through January.

My mom put it perfectly when she said, “January feels like one long Monday.”

This year, I’m fighting the blahs more than usual. My pre-holiday frenzy was in a much higher gear because it was my running Hair Fairy. It was a great first holiday season but the effort and energy that went into it has caught up with me.

Yet there’s so much to do! I have big work deadlines and even bigger goals so I need to get motivated. Fast.

For inspiration (and yes - part procrastination) I did a few searches on productivity tips and ideas. No one article nailed it for me personally so I made my own list of what helps me to be productive:

1. Start planning on Sunday

Spending time on Sunday, even just 30 minutes, looking at my calendar, reviewing deadlines and determining what I need to get done by the end of the week gives me a huge leg up Monday morning.

Most important, it helps ease the anxiety of Monday morning. I can relax more Sunday night, sleep better and I’m much calmer getting my kids off to school Monday morning.

2. Make lists and note what’s a “task” vs. a “project”

I am a task junky. I love making lists and crossing tasks off when I complete them. But I tend to do all of the quick tasks first, leaving the projects that take longer to, well, sit on my list for too long.

Now I make lists and note what’s a task (takes less then 30 minutes to complete) and what’s a project. Then prioritize and set aside the right amount of time to get a combination of projects and tasks done.

3. Exercise

I try to swim, run or do yoga 4 to 5 times a week. Emphasis on "try" cause sometimes I'm lucky to get 3 days in. If I schedule workout time like a meeting and treat it as mandatory, I’m more likely to actually get out and do it. And the endorphins give me a second wind to finish the work day strong.

4. Make time for creative think

During my last full time position, I was so crushingly miserable, I was creatively depleted. It wasn’t until I decided to quit and take time off that I was able to free my mind, think creatively and start putting the pieces of Hair Fairy together.

Now I know being able to just quit a job and take time off is a luxury few have. But a mini break such as raking leaves, a walk with the dog or even reading the New York Times helps me think up new ideas or better way to approach a problem I’m trying to solve.

5. End the day with an organized desk and notes for the next day

I worked with a woman who told me at the end of every workday, she would tidy her desk, review the schedule for the next day and update her “to do” list.

Now, if you saw my desk, you wouldn’t call it tidy. I have organized “piles” for most of the week. But I’m going to attempt to break 15 minutes earlier, clean up and update my list. This habit will help me get a jump-start every morning.

I will stop short of calling these 5 strategies my New Years Resolution but will commit to making these a habit in 2015. Now back to work!