Tips for Working Smarter as a Freelancer – Winter Edition

It’s beginning to look a lot like… snow, wind, cold and rain moving sideways. Christmas may be just around the corner, but it’s easy to forget just how bad the weather can be here in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. It’s easy to put the heating on, sit down with a hot beverage and write away and think no more of it – or is it?

While the sunshine might distract you in the summer, lower energy and lower sunlight levels will sap you in the autumn and winter. You’re not a robot and cannot simply plug away at it. You need a plan to work smarter in the winter, perhaps some of these following tips will help.

Copyright MG Mason: heathland near Petersfield, approx Jan 2013
Copyright MG Mason: heathland near Petersfield, approx Jan 2013

Get Some Sunshine

In the summer, that’s not really difficult advice to follow. You’re full of energy and if you’re a runner (like me), you’ll find any excuse to do so. At this time of year, a lack of sunshine saps your energy, your mood and your desire to do things. That’s why you must go out when you can. Get some exercise and run errands during the late morning and early afternoon to ensure you get the best of what little sunshine is there. You’ll be amazed at how better you will feel for doing so.

Eat Properly

It’s cold, it’s wet and dark – you just want junk food for the energy. This is the worst thing you can do. It will sap your energy and though the sugar will give you some energy, it won’t in the long run – you’ll just crave more of it. You’ll feel sluggish and exhausted and you’ll struggle to concentrate. That is the last thing you need when clients rely on you to finish their project on time. If, like me, this is your busiest time of year – you need to be at 100%. Eat properly. By all means, enjoy the Christmas treats but do so in moderation.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking breaks is even more important today than it was six months ago simply because you feel sluggish and lacking in energy. You need to keep your brain fresh, especially if you are in a busy period (as I am). There is no benefit to chaining yourself to the desk and plugging away. Something has to give and eventually the part of your brain responsible for work productivity will go into shutdown. Evidence has demonstrated repeatedly that taking regular, sensible breaks can improve your productivity.

Take Days Out

Similarly related to above, you need to take your mind off of work completely. You don’t tend to want to do that when it’s cold and wet, but doing so will be of enormous benefit. Go and visit a local Christmas market and soak up the atmosphere. Or perhaps a local tourist attraction is running a special Christmas themed event at the moment? Anything to get you outside, exposed to as much sunshine and fresh air as you can possibly manage.

Eden Project Sound and Lights 2016. Copyright: MG Mason 2016
Eden Project Sound and Lights 2016. Copyright: MG Mason 2016

Keep Warm

No matter where you are, what you are doing or how you work, it’s important to maintain a comfortable temperature. I work from home and the flat has Night Storage Heaters which means they release heat slowly over the course of the day. Living in Cornwall means it doesn’t really get all that cold, but I have a panel heater in my office room should it get too cold. There are EU temperature regulations for good reason – a working environment that is too cold is unhealthy.

Be Social

I am an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I am a recluse. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t need to see family and friends. In these cold and dark winter months, most people will feel tired and low. Focusing on work might help some people get through, but you still need those distractions from your working life. Arrange to meet an old friend for coffee, invite family over in the evenings. You’ll welcome the distractions, especially if you are busy with work.


5 thoughts on “Tips for Working Smarter as a Freelancer – Winter Edition

  1. Vladimir Covic

    Ah, yes, the 5 things we freelancers regularly forget. No reason to skip lunch or not take a break because some client is in a hurry. Control your own time, don’t let someone else do it for you. By the way, thank you for the post MG Mason.

    1. Welcome Vladimir! Glad I could be of help 🙂

  2. andfreed

    Totally agree Matt! Living here in Canada I really appreciate this and will keep your helpful tips in mind on cold winter days.

    1. Welcome as evwr, Andrea. Have you had your first snow yet? A friend of mine married an American and moved to Boston a couple of years ago. They’ve just had their first

      1. andfreed

        Yes we have and it’s freezing! My season of hibernation begins LOL.

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