11 Ways To Turn Your Unproductive Days Around
by Rachael Vandendool
We all have unproductive days now and then.
Sometimes you are just having an off day, or you have a lot of unexpected things that come up that get in the way of you getting your to-do list done.
You might have loads of time to work on that project, but your focus and momentum just aren’t there. You are just not accomplishing as much as you set out to accomplish for the day.
Sometimes those now and then days become a chronic now and then days and happen far more often then you want.
Knowing how to deal with those unproductive days and turn them around so that you can accomplish the things you need to get done is important to having a balanced life full of accomplishments.
When an unproductive day strikes, try these 11 tips to turn those unproductive days around and get things done.
When you are having an unproductive day and are just not getting anything done, remind yourself why doing and accomplishing those tasks are important to you.
Refocus on your why. Review your task list and remind yourself why you need to get those things done.
Why are they important to you?
What are the consequences of not doing them?
Take a few minutes to focus and visualize the results of doing and the results of not doing those tasks.
You may even find it helps to keep a daily journal of why the tasks you have to accomplish today are important to your life to maintain and improve it.
2| Seek Out Inspiration
Maybe you lack motivation and are having an unproductive day because you lack inspiration.
Get your mind moving and become inspired by works of art, music, or books.
Inspiration is essential if you are in the creative field. Sometimes you just need to be moved by something great to produce something great.
3| Renew Your Energy
Sometimes your unproductive day is because you don’t have the energy you need to get through it.
Maybe you had a bad night’s sleep, or you just finished working on an intensive task, and your energy level is low.
Take a short break and renew your energy to be ready to continue on with your other tasks.
Go for a brisk walk, do a small exercise session, talk with friends, take a short nap, have a snack.
Whatever you find gives you an energy boost, take the time to renew your energy so that you can continue on and get those tasks done.
4| Do Something Productive You Enjoy
Mundane, boarding, hard tasks can fill up your day and leave you drained.
Getting started on those tasks can be challenging, especially when you know what is ahead of you.
Try switching up those unenjoyable tasks with something that brings you joy, but is still productive.
The key is to use enjoyable tasks as a reward for when you accomplished an unenjoyable task.
For example, reward yourself by looking at Pinterest for 10 min. after you have cleaned the kitchen and bathroom.
Or you can design your new lead magnet (if you enjoy that sort of thing) after you have finished the rough draft of the blog post.
Be mindful and keep those enjoyable rewards to a time limit, set a timer if you need to.
5| Eliminate Distractions
Some distractions keep you from being productive and are avoidable and can be minimized or removed from your day.
Are you easily distracted by avoidable distractions like email or social media, phone calls, or other co-workers?
Brainstorm what is distracting you from being productive and remove or minimize those distractions from your day.
Plan times in your day when you can check on email, return phone calls, or visit with co-workers.
Stick to those times and avoid them during the times of day when you need to be more productive and focused on the task at hand.
6| Minimize Distractions
However, some distractions can’t be removed. You might work from home, and have small children to watch or other responsibilities that need your attention.
These things can distract you from what you want to get done.
However, these distractions are important, so you need to figure out ways to balance them in your day.
If you have small children consider childcare or someone to come in and watch your kids while you work. Work when they nap or before and after they go to bed.
Learn to manage your time and recognize the small pockets of undistracted time you have in your day and take advantage of those times with your important task list.
7| Have A Contingency Plan
Unexpected events are going to happen, things that you didn’t plan on that can turn those productive days into unproductive ones.
Someone gets sick, an emergency came up, the project you are working on ran into an issue, and you need to fix that first.
Have a plan for how you will eventually accomplish the jobs that are not going to get done, while still trying to be productive during that time.
For example, I am a mom, and I have kids. They get sick, and it means I can’t work on the things I wanted to on those days.
However, I can still be productive on those days; it is just a different kind of productivity. I plan out productive activities that I keep in a queue for days when I won’t have a lot of focus. Things like educating myself on a new technique or updating my website. These things I can do in short bursts and still take care of my kids.
I also try not to overschedule my week. I like to have a least one flex day where I can do those important activates that got put off during the week because of an unexpected event.
8| Change Your Environment
Sometimes all you need to turn your unproductive days around is a change of scenery.
If you can do it, change your location. Go to a coffee shop, bring your work outside, move to a different room in the house.
Sometimes your unproductivity is due to your surroundings. It could be loud or distracting or uninspiring.
Change your environment to turn your unproductive day around.
9| Accomplish Something Small
You can be unproductive because the task you are about to start is overwhelming and intimidating.
Break those large tasks down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish in little sprints of time.
For example, sitting down to write a blog post can feel like a huge task, and maybe something you don’t want to get into. But sitting down and spending 10 min. on the outline might be something you’re ok with.
Once you get started on the task, you might find you can continue longer on it.
Sometimes it is just the act of starting something that is all you need to get the momentum to stick with it.
10| Reward Yourself
Rewarding yourself for completing tasks is something I wrote about in the post Stop Procrastinating With This One Simple Tip!
A big reason why a lot of us procrastinate and are unproductive is because of the feelings we have when we need to accomplish a task.
We are wired not to want to do something that makes us feel bad.
When given a choice, we try to avoid those tasks that are tedious or boring for jobs that make us feel joy.
I would rather scroll through Instagram than write a blog post. However, scrolling through Instagram is not productive.
You can overcome those bad feelings you have for a task by creating rewards for doing and accomplishing a task.
One important note, don’t let the time between when you complete the task, and you get the reward be too long. Otherwise, you won’t associate the reward with the task.
11| Recognize your Productivity
You might think you are not productive, but in fact, you are.
Sometimes you get through your day, and you think you accomplished nothing because your to-do list didn’t shrink like you thought it would.
However, maybe you really were productive, and you just didn’t realize it.
Remind yourself of the things you have accomplished. Write them down in a journal. Look and see what you have done.
Did you get that rough draft of the blog post done? Write it down.
Did you spend time with your loved ones? Write it down.
Did you spend time too much time on social media? Hide your phone.
You can be hard on yourself sometimes thinking you didn’t get anything done, when, in fact, you really did accomplish a lot.
Write down what you did accomplish, what you did learn, how much you really did produce for the day.
Start Being Productive Today
Next time you are having an unproductive day, just use the tips above to turn that unproductive day around.
Get doing the things you need to do so that you can maintain and improve on the different areas of your life.