Making the Most of Those Unproductive Days

Article by Dee DeWitt, Edited by Dee DeWitt


Have you ever have one of those unproductive days?  You know.  One of those days when you just feel a little lazy.  One of those days where you don’t want to work on anything on your to-do list?


We’ve all had those days.  I have.  None of us are productive all of the time.  The type of day where I did a little work but not everything I had planned.


Sometimes we didn’t get enough sleep; sometimes we just don’t have motivation; sometimes we get distracted by a new game …


So when this happens, what do you do?  It’s a matter of finding ways to still get the important things done when not feeling productive, and also allowing yourself to take breaks now and then.  Our minds and bodies need periodic breaks … we can’t go full charge all the time.


Here are some strategies for combating (or surviving) unproductive days:


Get rid of distractions.  What is it that’s distracting you today?  Whether that’s some new website you discovered, a forum, a new computer game or whatever … if you find a way to block yourself from that distraction, you can get a lot more done.  It’s not easy, I know.  Here’s a good method: disconnect the Internet. I know I get a lot more done when I do that.


Find something interesting.  If you’re not feeling motivated, it may be that the things on your to-do list bore you.  You need to find something interesting to do.  This can be a challenge for some … but try this: take a step back, close your eyes, and just let your mind go.  What would be fun to do today?  How can you get outside of your normal routine?  What are you passionate about?  What would be fresh and new to you?  Let the ideas flow, then start writing them down. Then choose something fun and exciting from your list, even if it’s not something urgent.   Getting excited about something is the best way to get out of those unproductive doldrums.


Put something awful at the top of your to-do list.  If there’s a ask or project you’ve been putting off for awhile, something that you really need to do but to not want to do … put that at the top of your list for today .. and several other things you need to do below that. The result?  You might not do the thing at the top of your list.  But in order to procrastinate on that dreaded item, you work through a bunch of other things on the list.  Productive psychology!


Walk.  Sometimes you just need to get the blood circulating.  Sitting at your desk all day can take a lot out of you.  Get up, walk around, go outside if you can.  Ten minutes of fresh air can get you relaxed and ready to crank out the work.


Listen to music.  Nothing gets you going better than a good tune.  Try it.  Anything that’s got a good beat will do.  Really.


Take a nap.  Despite our work culture frowning on nap-taking … naps are the ultimate productivity tool.  If you can sneak in a nap, it always helps you out.  You’ll feel refreshed and much more ready to tackle your work.


Relax.  If you don’t get anything done today, does the world end?  No.  Many time, particularly if you have been doing a lot of work, your brain just needs a rest.  Take so rest.  Let yourself rejuvenate.  If you can take the day off, do it!  If not, focus on activities that allow you to relax and recharge.


What are your favorite ways to make the most of a lazy day?


“The simple act of playing positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.”
-Thomas J. Peters

“Increased productivity is made up of 1000s of small improvements. Just like Gulliver who was held down by 1000s of threads. Each one doesn’t seem to mean much, and in the case of a thread, can be easily broken. But 1000s of them can have a very strong effect.”
-Source Unknown


“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.”
-Jim Manzi


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Posted on 27 February, 2010 in Productivity
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