January blues

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5 tips for contractors and freelancers to beat the January blues

Last updated on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Written by Alex Cadman

We’ve all experienced the January blues. The exciting and eventful festive season is over, we’ve stuffed ourselves with sweets for the past month and now we’re forced to go back to reality with seemingly nothing to look forward to.

Symptoms of the ‘January blues’ include moodiness, lack of motivation and productivity, lethargy, stress, and add to that a month-long cold that seems to be circulating around most workplaces.

When you’re a contractor and your income at the end of the week or month depends on you being productive and meeting deadlines, it can be a constant battle when the last thing you feel is motivated.

For those of you who are struggling to get back into the swing of things after Christmas, we have five tips for improving your health, both physically and mentally, and for motivating yourself to be more productive.

1. Cut down on processed sugar

You might think that because you are often feeling tired, you need more sugar to get you through the day. However processed sugars, among other things such as alcohol and coffee, can raise the acidity levels in your body. This causes your oxygen levels to drop, leaving you feeling tired.

Incorporating more slow-burning energy foods into your diet, such as carrots, broccoli, rolled oats, green beans and more, can contribute to higher energy levels. If you can’t eat a meal due to meetings or being stuck in an office, skip the vending machine and opt for a quick snack such as a banana, an apple or strawberries, which are full of natural, energising sugars.

2. Don’t give up on your resolutions

January is the month that tends to differentiate those who are serious about achieving their goals from those who are following a trend. However, just because you haven’t been to the gym for a week, for example, doesn’t mean you should give up on your resolution of getting fit altogether.

The idea is to keep getting back on the horse each time you fall off. Research shows it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you remain focused on your resolution, you will be more motivated to reach your goal – which can also increase your motivation and productivity in other aspects of your life and career as a contractor.

3. Start planning your 2017 holidays

Give yourself something to look forward to by starting research on your holidays for the year. Even if it’s a quick weekend getaway somewhere in Europe, knowing you have a holiday coming up will improve your mood overall.

Not sure how taking a holiday works for contractors? Read our blog to find out.

4. Set yourself some goals for the year

Want to earn more money in 2017? Want to increase your skills and progress in your contracting career? Sit down and write out everything you wish to achieve for the year (your goals/objectives), and then brainstorm step by step how you are going to reach each goal.

It’s easy to dream about what we want, but most of the time it won’t fall into your lap. Without an actionable plan for your goals, you may end up setting resolutions for 2018 that you intended to fulfil in 2017.

Just like planning a holiday, setting goals and objectives on a professional level will give you something to focus on, which should draw your attention away from the January blues.

When setting goals, don’t forget about the ‘SMART’ rule: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

5. Make a change

Ever wondered why some people change their hair so often? It’s one of the easiest ways to reinvent yourself. Change can make you feel good about yourself, and getting out of your comfort zone once in a while can help you grow as a person.

In a way, all of the above tips are ways of making a change. If you can’t make a big change, make a small change. Feeling down about yourself? Change your hair, or change up your exercise routine. Feeling unmotivated or unproductive in your current contract? Try changing your work style so you work in 90-minute intervals rather than barrelling through the day. If your contract involves predominantly sitting down at a computer, try getting up to stretch and take a screen break once in a while.

We hope these tips will help you beat the January blues, and motivate you both in your personal life and contracting career.

If you’re making plans for your contracting career in 2017, or if you are looking to make a professional change, here are some helpful blogs:

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