Did you know that the third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday? Apparently it’s the most depressing day of the year! It might be due to new year resolutions being broken, the colder weather, the long wait until pay day… so many factors which in general can make January a tough month. So I thought I would share a few productivity tips - to get you excited about the year ahead, focused on those working goals and ready for the world…

1. Use the time blocking method...



Print out a daily schedule and fill in the gaps with fixed commitments you have. Here's an example. You can then see what time you have to really dedicate yourself to your business or a side line business. Many of us will have family commitments too. If you do have a nice 9-5 period of time to play with but find motivation lacks at different times of the day make a note of these and find your prime time for working. You could also try the pomodoro technique… work for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break. Or try a variation of this - work for 90 minutes and take a 15 minute break for example.

2. Turn off distractions

Ok this is the obvious one... we probably all work with our phones right next to us looking down every time we get a notification. Try putting your phone out of sight for an hour or two and really focus on the job at hand. Close your email for an hour too!

3. Stay on top of your accounts and money

Try not to leave it all until the last minute when the tax return is due. Keeping on top of it through-out the year will make you less stressed and more in control. Set aside a morning a month to focus on your accounts. And here in the UK we have until the end of January to file our tax return… how many of us leave it until the last minute? Try to get it done early or at least make sure your accounts are ready and in order to file the return easily with no stress.

4. Get out!

You might think to be productive you need to bury your head in your work and never see the light of day. Not true, get out, network, go to a show, do things you love and meet like minded people. Maybe you'll meet someone you can collaborate with. It's important to keep your creative spark alight so getting out and about will in the end help you be more productive.

5. Exercise

You don't need to be running marathons but try to make time for exercise that works for you. Don't like to run, don't run. Love yoga, do yoga... Whilst it's great for fitness it's also good for the mind and healthy minds will lead to better work, probably done quicker as well! From a personal perspective I love running but I’ve had a dodgy knee for over a year now so I’ve had to find alternatives. I’m currently taking part in a 30 day yoga challenge and trying to fit yoga in every day. I think it’s really made a difference to my stress levels.

If you would like a few more tips on working for yourself and getting a good work / life balance please check out my class The Freelancing Guide: How to organise your life and work - you can get 2 months free access to Skillshare with this link.