If you are anything like me you will have noticed a distinct change in your mood and productivity as the days have drawn out and the temperatures have started to rise.
This winter has been my first in a long time that I have worked from home and haven’t had a commute as a cattle prod for getting me out of bed in the morning. I saw my ability to work and my enthusiasm to create drop quite dramatically from November onwards. Things have only picked up since mid February but the change has been quite dramatic.
I noticed it especially when we had that week of exceptionally warm weather at the end of February. Every day was a joy, every morning had an enthusiastic bounce to it. After that temperatures here in Manchester plummeted again and we’ve endured snow, hail, continuous rain and even more continuous gale force winds. It’s not been a joy. And I have felt me creativity slackening off a bit though with the longer hours of light I haven’t stopped completely.
The clear signs I was slipping into semi hibernation mode as winter approached were that I got up later and later every day (10.30 at the height of winter). I would spend all day in as many layers as I could put on and still function because it was so cold. I stopped creating.
For me, working from home meant being very cold a lot of the time because my fuel bills are on ration (because costs – you know). If there’s one thing I can’t do when it’s really cold it’s make things. My hands numb and cold in general is very distracting for me. But high bills are even more distracting so I simply played the waiting game, like most of nature, and sat it out until Spring. I’ve been churning out new designs over the last month though, so I know I haven’t lost my desire to work. This was my real fear of going back to working from home but it seems to have been unfounded. I’m producing more now than I was last year when I was in my studio.
Whilst I worried about the lack of productivity over winter (because I don’t get paid an hourly rate just for turning up), and boy did I worry and procrastinate, now that I know what to expect I can plan how to manage it.
I probably won’t try to find ways to keep on designing during the winter months. But I can focus on other work related things such as marketing and selling. I always keep a large number of garments and accessories in stock. I make more than I can sell, so the money theoretically is always there. These behind the scenes tasks can be done in a warm coffee shop or in my local library down the road which has free wifi and churns out heat even when it’s closed. They have a fabulous open door policy so that even when the library is unstaffed during office hours you can still gain access if you have a members card which means I can sit there all day if I want. I can use it like an office.
Above all I read that I should be kind to myself. Give myself a break. Recuperate. Take time to read. Exercise. Enjoy non work related things and not beat myself up about it. iI worried a lot about my lack of productivity over the winter, but I can still make money without making anything and now that I’ve passed one winter here I know what to do.
I was comforted by articles I read about the struggle to work during the winter months. It turns out there are lots of people doing exactly what I was doing – not getting up, staying in pyjamas all day, drinking gallons of tea. eating chocolate. And, of course, worrying about not working.
Provided I have a strategy and I know what to expect, next winter shouldn’t be such a hard learning curve. It’s just a temporary change of tactic and that just makes it easier to understand and to manage.