Key takeaways:

  1. Use a a hard stop to define what ‘Winter’ means – I use the British Summer Time clock adjustment for this.
  2. Winter merely represents a shift in our operating environment – our schedules must adapt to survive.
  3. Survival is key to consistency – consistency is key to survival. We can only achieve the lives we want if we want if we remain dogged in our pursuit.
  4. Below is an exploration of how I achieve this personally.

So here we are – it’s Winter AKA cold, dark, downright depressing… right?

I get that sense of dread around Halloween/Bonfire Night every year that I bet you get too. How will I continue all the great habits I picked up over the Summer: the early morning jog; the kickabout with the lads after work; the ‘cheeky pint’ on a lazy Sunday evening?

Truth is, you won’t – not without any great difficulty at least (I’ve been there). Even if you manage it, your friends won’t – so you won’t enjoy it in the same way…

Yet, success is the result of small, consistent efforts in a focused direction. So, we can’t just put everything on hold because the world changes around us and we don’t like it – not if we want to succeed at least.

You can adapt to the changing environment though.

Think about it, this year more so than ever, we know we can all adapt.

I personally plan this up front, so I know going in how I’m going to account for the Winter period, when taking on a new habit. So, I have two schedules – one I use during British Summer Time and then another I use once the clocks have gone back.

This is key because, as much as you may not like the cold, it doesn’t have a hard date for when it sets in – whereas the change in productive daylight hours does. This may seem less of a concern, but our body clocks are far more of a factor in productivity than the temperature is. When it gets dark at 4pm, our bodies start to increase production of Melatonin, causing us to get drowsy and want to go to bed

This usually only consists of condensing my productive hours, including on weekends, into the core daylight hours – keeping a tighter reign on when I’m spending my time and energy. Where work takes up all those core daylight hours, consider getting up earlier (it’s not hard to go to bed early when it’s dark by 4pm!) and getting something useful done before work (I’m writing this article at 6am…). This way, you won’t feel guilty when you come home and just feel like putting your feet up, instead of going for plugging into that daily hobby you’d kept up consistently over the Summer – you already got it done!

It may sound crazy to want to fight your way out of bed early in the Winter – when it’s cold and dark, but what’s the alternative? I’m not saying you need to get up and do your full morning routine at 5am now, but just think about how you could go to bed a couple hours earlier and get up a couple hours earlier. So, for example, if you became accustomed to jogging around your area in the evening, during the Lockdown, think about getting up an hour earlier and visiting an indoor treadmill instead; then coming home to your normal routine.

A great rule Joey Diaz has (I appreciate he’s not your typical role model on the surface, but he’s one of the most resilient people I’ve ever learned of), and again this is relevant while so many are working from home, is to shower before 9am – no matter what. Otherwise, he says he gets depressed. I personally have found this a great rule to stick to. Particularly when the Winter + WFH conditions make it so easy just to lie in and figure it out at some point during the day. Trouble is, this is a train-wreck of an approach to a productive day – and we can’t just write off a Winter as a non-productive period! Showering is more than just a hygiene exercise, it gets the blood pumping around your body and signals to your brain that it times to go.

Otherwise, look, you can’t depend on the Sun to make you happy. It’s there some days. Great, enjoy. Others it’s not. What are you going to do, stay in bed all day? You really think that will help you achieve the life you want? Get up and get after it – ideally before dawn, so it doesn’t even matter whether the Sun rises or not!

If you, like most, worry about your Vitamin D levels, consider that studies show that even those living in Southern California, experiencing sunlight 300 days per year, are Vitamin D deficient. So, chances are, no matter how much sun you’re getting, you’re still deficient. Vitamin D is a vital cornerstone of your immune system and so you should be taking a regular supplement throughout the year anyway – so don’t worry too much about that one.

Finally, make use of your devices’ blue light filters and dark mode themes as much as possible. You can set these to come on between dusk and dawn, according to your location. There’s debate over whether these are just fads, but I’ve personally found them helpful when working during the early mornings/into the evening during Winter time. I’d personally recommend making use of them.

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Cheers – Kristian Hawkes.

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