Should we re-think January productivity?

What to do about low-vibe January? It’s often such an unproductive, high-expectation month.

Should we re-think January productivity?
I’ve been having an unproductive, low-vibe month. I didn’t plan on it, it just happened through a set of circumstances. I was unwell (a cold that kept coming back) and things have been particularly busy on the family front. Between these, it’s been hard to feel like I’ve gotten started with 2025 yet.
In my experience, January is always a bad time for high expectations anyway. So why does everyone try to make it such a productive month? Trying to set grand goals for the year, or try to start the year with any kind of productive bang can be really hard to pull off.
Why does everyone try to make it such a productive month?
With the way people talk in January (especially on social media) you could be forgiven for assuming you’re the only one feeling that way. I do this a lot, only to find out quickly that everyone seems to either be the same, or know someone dealing with the same.
I watch people try to set New Year resolutions, or set some big Q1 goal. However, the exciting expectations of the new year tend to fade once we all find ourselves facing the same challenges that we had at the end of the last year.
We all find ourselves facing the same challenges that we had at the end of the last year.
Being just after the Christmas period and New Year’s eve, January energy doesn’t come easy. Depending on where you are in the world, it often means an exhausted slump from all the socialising, entertaining, and general all-round well-wishing of the previous weeks.
If you’re in the Northern hemisphere the weather isn’t the best. In the UK it’s cold, grey and wet. Daylight availability is low. This has a big impact on mood and health for me.
With many people off sick, or just feeling low and unmotivated, it tends to compound at work. Email response times can be sluggish. I imagine we’re all overwhelmed with a deluge of new requests, and well-meaning nudges from unfinished work.
So what to do about January?
In recent years I’ve tried to rethink my expectations of January. I acknowledge it’s going to be busy. It may also be fairly unproductive, and possibly low-vibe. That’s OK. Coming into it with this mindset is a good way to to practise a little self-compassion and not let it all get you down.
Maybe a better way to look at the month of January is as a period of adjustment. A bit of trial and error, trying out new ideas, and shaking off bad or unproductive habits.
That way, we could even look at February 1st as the real start to the year.

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