Every day can’t be worthy of a productivity gold star. Life happens. Exhaustion happens. Sickness happens. The fridge suddenly breaking happens. And “I don’t give a shit!” happens. Let’s face it, a LOT can happen on any given day and it’s usually an unwelcome blow to our productivity.

When days like this roll around, it’s easy to allow our negative thoughts to dominate us. We beat ourselves up because we should of done more. We compare ourselves to others we believe have their shit together and wonder what their secret is. We tell ourselves we’re failures and question whether we’ll ever reach the level of success we dream of. All of this sounds familiar to you right?

5 tips to help you fire up your productivity

It doesn’t take a genius to know that spinning around in this circle of negativity won’t help us get shit done. Despite this knowledge, we often continue to spin around anyway and the results just leave us feeling even shittier. Not good! Naturally, no one is a fan of days like this but they are going to surface once in a while unfortunately. There’s no avoiding it!

So, here are some suggestions to help you fire up your productivity

Most of what I’m suggesting is pretty obvious, but when I’m stuck in “blah” mode, the simplest next step is often the hardest to see. Funny how that works huh? I do hope they lift your spirits a little and help you turn your day around.

Start with just one thing

Some days your to-do list just feels completely overwhelming. For now, forgot your to-do list and just commit to doing one thing. That thing doesn’t necessarily have to be on your official to-do list. It doesn’t have to be anything major either. Just keep it simple to start. Do something that requires little effort but will lift the weight you’re feeling on your shoulders.

Need some suggestions? You could:

  • Empty the dishwasher and make sure the kitchen is clean
  • Pay that bill you’ve been avoiding in hopes it will vanish (it wont!)
  • Throw on a load of laundry and put away what’s in the dryer
  • Sort the closet, drawer or whatever is driving you bonkers because it’s so disorganized
  • Write and send that email you’ve been avoiding

Pretty simple huh? While these little things may not deliver the “I did it!” high bigger things do, when you add them all up together, you’ll see you got shit done and that’s all that matters. And guess what? I find accomplishing small things often triggers my “let’s do this!” attitude and before I know it, I’m riding the productivity wave like a pro.

Do something for someone else

Can’t muster up the energy for that one thing? Okay, try this instead – do something for someone else. You can’t deny how good it feels when you do something nice for others without expecting anything in return. Try it! Rest assured, you’ll bank some good feelings about yourself (and those you reach out to will think you’re pretty sweet too!) and so it’s a win, win!

Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Recently started following someone on social media whose work you love? Tell them and start a conversation. Who doesn’t love an unexpected note from someone telling them their work is appreciated?
  • On your coffee or lunch run pick up an extra one for a homeless person Random acts of kindness like this will light up their day and yours too. If you always make your coffee and lunch at home, why not treat yourself and get it elsewhere for a change? Then you’ll have no excuse but to pick up an extra one.
  • Email a friend or loved one (or pick up the phone – the horror I know!) Simply ask how they doing. Many of us prefer to hide the fact we’re going through a rough time with a smiley face. Not healthy! So giving someone an opportunity to off-load their woes on you might be just what they need. And even if they are woe-free, I’m quite sure hearing from you unexpectedly will be lovely anyway. P.S. Check your social media feeds too. I can guarantee someone is having a shit day. Their posts will make it obvious. Reach out to them!
  • Read a great blog post lately but didn’t bother leaving a comment? Leave one. Everyone loves getting comments/feedback on what they share. I’ve started using Pocket to keep track of posts I want to comment on. I tag it with #comment and when I have spare time (or don’t know what else to do!) I go through my list and get commenting. Give it a go!

When you selflessly help other people, the odds are you’ll feel empowered and so good about yourself that tackling your to-do list suddenly doesn’t feel so daunting anymore. And if it does, just end your day with a big pat on your back and go to sleep knowing you did something good for others!

5 tips to help you fire up your productivity

Get moving or change your environment

I have to admit, I’m the worst at this one (truth be told, I haven’t nailed any of these suggestions as well as I could!). I’m sure like me, on tough days, you sit at your computer for way too long hoping the productivity fairy will land on your desk. She rarely shows up when we do this (it’s probably our punishment for having 10+ tabs open in our browser!) and so why not get your arse off that chair and do something else?

Not sure what to do? Perhaps these ideas will get you thinking:

  • Nature is the best therapy (plus it’s free!) so get yourself outside and go for a walk (even if it’s just for 15 minutes)
  • Pack up your shit and work from the couch, your bed or a coffee shop instead
  • Head to the gym and work out that frustration (I highly recommend boxing for this!)
  • Clean up or reorganize your work space a little
  • Crank the music and have yourself a dance party (here’s a song to get you started)

If you go the physical activity route, your body is going to get flooded with endorphins and you’ll have no choice but to feel good. I also find this usually helps reign in my focus too and the natural high I’m riding makes me want to keep going (i.e. I start tackling that to-do list)!

Figure out why you’re being unproductive

There could be many reasons why you’re stuck in an unproductive mode. The simplest reason being you’re burnt out or working yourself too hard and you’re in need of a break (if so, see the next point).

Another reason could be that the tasks ahead make you want to crawl under a rock and invite procrastination over for a party. If this is the case, it might be time to ask yourself some hard questions.

Those questions could be:

  • Am I stuck in my comfort zone? If you are, get out of it and try something new. What do you have to lose?
  • Am I being a perfectionist? Perfectionism will always bring you to a screeching halt. Remind yourself (right now!) you’re striving for the impossible. There’s no such thing as perfection and even if it did exist, it would never be reached in the eyes of a perfectionist anyway.
  • Do I give a shit about what I’m doing? I could write about this myself but my Twitter buddy Paul did it so well that I’m just going to send you over to him. Enjoy!

Shut down and walk away

Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that the day is a write off and allow yourself (without any guilty feelings!) to do absolutely nothing. Unless there’s a deadline looming you really need to hit that day, the best thing you can do for yourself is shut down the computer and simply walk away.

I’m pretty confident most of us are placing a crazy (and unnecessary) amount of pressure on ourselves to consistently have “epic” days. Days like these make us feel like productivity ninjas and as though we’re on top of the world, but let’s be realistic, every day doesn’t usually roll this way.

And besides, the odds are you’ve set the bar way too high for yourself anyway. So slow yourself down, lower that bar a notch or two and cut yourself some bloody slack. Capisce?

Some things I recommend doing include:

  • Getting into bed and having a Netflix marathon
  • Heading to your happy place for a few hours to decompress (for me that’s the lake)
  • Having a good cry. All that shitty stuff you’re feeling tends to appear less unsettling when you’ve shed a few tears. Apparently it’s because crying lowers our manganese levels. Who knew?

Trust me, taking the day off won’t send your business down the shit hole. Don’t forget, you are the most important resource to your business (something we often overlook!) and it’s essential you take care of yourself. The to-do list and everything else you need to accomplish can wait. Walk away my friend and do something just for you.

5 tips to help you fire up your productivity

Illustrations © Gemma Correll (Nope), Marc Johns (Super Duper, Don’t Forget to Play)

About Adele
I’m a brand strategist and designer helping entrepreneurs and small business owners bring their brand story to life through creative visual identities and strategically crafted digital experiences.

There are 2 comments so far.

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  • Love all of these tips so much! Such a great idea to do something nice for someone else.

    Nicole      Reply
    • So glad to hear you enjoyed them Nicole. Doing something for someone else is such a great way to spin a negative day into a positive one!

      dellie      Reply

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