10 Tips To Help You Stay Productive When It’s Dark Outside

Mindset + Motivation

It’s hard to stay creative and productive when it gets dark so early, so here are some tips to help you stay on task and energized, even if it seems like Mother Nature is heading to bed early.

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It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

When it’s still dark in the morning, don’t you just want to stay snuggled under the fluffy covers? It’s hard to stay creative and productive when it gets dark so early (and stays that way through your morning!)—and all you feel like doing is watching movies and sleeping in. 

Summertime is bright (literally, the sun sets around 8PM), so it’s easy to turn that Vitamin D into energy. But as the seasons shift into fall and winter, the reduction in daylight can leave us feeling sluggish and sleepy as we struggle to stay creative and productive at work and home. 

So I have put together my Top 10 Tips to help you stay on task and energized, even if it seems like Mother Nature is heading to bed early.

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

1. Start your Day Earlier

Take as much advantage of the daylight as you can in the fall and winter. Even getting up just 30 minutes earlier can help you start the day with greater ease. And yes,I know it’s harder as the days get shorter and you’re waking up when it’s still dark outside!

One way to help you push through the dark mornings and capitalize on the extra time, try starting your day with a sunrise sweat sesh. You’ll feel more confident throughout the day knowing your workout is already checked off the list. And the benefits to your brain and bod (better circulation, less brain fog) will help you be more productive throughout the rest of the day. 

2. Eat More Fresh Produce

According to a survey conducted by The Muse, employees were 20% more productive when their diet included more fresh fruits and vegetables. Perhaps it’s a compound effect—when you regularly make one healthy decision, you’re more inclined to try another, to keep the streak going.

Plus, real food will help you maintain focus and clarity, which will allow you to sustain your creativity for longer! We’re into it. So, prep some healthy seasonal snacks to nosh on throughout your day. 

3. Schedule a Break Outside. 

Just because it’s getting darker earlier doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all day. Make sure to take at least one break during your day to go out and enjoy nature. You’ll soak up some Vitamin D and clear your head, so you can be more productive when you return to the office or your creative endeavor. And yes, even when it’s overcast, the Vitamin D will still find you!

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

4. Skip the Coffee Break. 

I know how tempting it can be to grab a second (or third) cup of java when that afternoon lull hits. So when it’s dark outside by 5PM, coffee seems like a trusted friend to help you through the final push of your day. If you really need a little artificial boost, reach for an alternative with lower caffeine like matcha tea.

Or better yet, go upside down!! Yes, you read that right. Bend over at your waist and allow your head, neck and arms to hang freely, then very slowly come up one vertebra at a time. When you allow the blood to rush to your head, you will re-oxygenate your brain—and you feel refreshed and energized naturally!

And these options will help you stay productive without keeping yourself awake all night. It’s a win-win.

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

5. Upgrade Your Lighting.

Now normally, I recommend you avoid blue light, but if you need to stay productive and creative when it’s dark outside, its effect on your body can come in handy! So make sure your work-from-home space is well lit. *That is until an hour before bedtime—then it’s time to turn that sh#t off!! 

And if you’re someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression that is directly related to change in seasons, consider investing in a SAD Therapy light. It simulates the natural rays of the sun and you can find affordable options as low as $35.  

6. Listen to Motivating Music. 

As a creative person, you already know that the right music can get the creative juices flowing. Create a productivity playlist to help you power through those last hours before bed when it’s already dark outside. 

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

7. Chew Gum. 

As long as you can walk at the same time, this tip is for you! 😉 The action of chewing gum engages your brain, keeping you focused (and awake). This is a good trick if you’re on set late at night and can’t sneak in a nap while you wait. 

8. Make it a Group Activity. 

Good company is an excellent motivator. If you find you skip dinner or opt for takeout more often when it’s dark outside, round up your family or your best pals to help you prepare a healthy home-cooked meal! Even if it’s over Zoom, you’ll be more productive with the added accountability (and nourishment!).  

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

9. Save the Easy Tasks for Last.

Do yourself a favor and schedule the tasks that require primo brain power for the daylight hours and save the easy assignments for when it’s dark outside and you have less energy. This way, you won’t end the day feeling stressed or disappointed if you’re working at a slower pace (which is totally normal, btw!) 

10. Embrace the Coziness.  

Finally, when it’s time to shut down for the evening, embrace the wonderful things about early sunsets. There is a good reason that The World Happiness Report ranks Finland one of the happiest places in the world despite dark winter days periods as long as 50 days in a row! 

They find ways to appreciate and savor the quiet time, the warmth of a nice fire, and the coziness of a home filled with good food and friends. So, once you’re done with the day’s work, disconnect from your devices and dig into something creative (a hobby, a good book, whatever) that doesn’t need to be checked off a list when done. (Preferably in your pajamas with a nice warm bevvie!)

It's possible to stay productive when it's dark outside.

How do you stay productive and creative when the day’s get darker? Let me know if this list is missing your favorite tip, by posting in the comments below or in The Badass Beauty Club on Facebook! 

LOVE + cozy, creative nights!

Moniqua Plante
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A Real Food Devotee + Self Care Connoisseur + Jedi Mindset Master dedicated to helping you elevate your health, happiness, your life—and your career.

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