December 31, 2016 Practice Points

Five Tips for a Productive Start to the New Year

By Emily J. Kirk

It's the end of the year. We have post-holiday blues. We've over-eaten and are tired. And—to make matters worse—it's cold outside (at least for many of us). The deck is stacked against us—so how can we return to work next week and start the year in a productive way? Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Healthy Eating
Most of us have over-indulged throughout the month of December. Yummy sweets and carb-filled meals are part of the festivities—but can leave us feeling tired and unmotivated. January is the perfect time to return to healthier eating habits. Eliminate overly-processed foods and focus on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help break the cycle of malaise.

2. Get Enough Sleep
Throughout the holidays, we're over-scheduled. It's easy to get out of a normal sleep pattern. To get back on track, try to stick to a set sleep schedule. And, make an effort to get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep each night. (I know, I know—you think you can get away with less.) Lack of sleep can lead to depression—a common winter-time ailment. It can also affect your ability to critically think and learn—key skills attorneys need. Even if you think you are getting by just fine with less sleep you may be hurting your productivity without even realizing it.

3. Drink Water
In fact, drink lots of it! Water will help eliminate the post-holiday bloat and will give you energy. I know it is tempting to reach for that afternoon cup of coffee to get you through those long winter afternoons, but the effects of that cup of coffee are short-lived. The effects of adequate water intake are longer lasting—and can help you control calories, energize your muscles, and regulate your body's fluids.

4. Exercise
Everybody says it—you've gotten out of your regular exercise routine over the holidays. It's understandable—you were busy. And you keep telling yourself that you would rather sit in your comfy clothes on your couch by the fire instead of going out for a run in the cold (or at least I would). Fight the urge to hibernate and find something to get you active again. If it's cold outside, check out a new exercise class at a local gym or a new DVD. Or do simple things—take breaks during your day and walk the stairs in your office. Anything to get you up and moving. You don't have to devote hours a day—even 30 minutes will improve your overall energy (and productivity).

5. Stay Social
If you're one of the people who loves the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don't despair. You can keep the festivity going. January is the perfect time to catch up with friends, colleagues, or clients that you didn't get to spend time with during the holidays. Get out—schedule a lunch, coffee or happy hour. Staying busy can help you fight off the winter blues.

Most of us know the benefits of incorporating these healthy habits into our daily routine—but sometimes (especially in January) it can be nice to have the reminder. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and productive 2017 in both your work and personal lives!

Emily J. Kirk is an associate at McCuneWright LLP in St. Louis, Missouri.


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