Unproductive days creep up on us for a whole host of reasons. The amount of work feels overwhelming, you’re bored, distracted, tired, unfocused, unmotivated.
Whatever the reason, the results are the same.
Endless ‘quick’ looks at Facebook or Instagram.
Constant promises that you’ll “start in a minute” (after you’ve brewed a coffee, checked your social feeds, finished that unimportant errand, or tackled any other mindless task that excuses you from cracking on!)
Before you know it, minutes have turned into hours and the day is at risk of disappearing into the abyss.
That wasn’t your intentions when you woke up.
But now, instead of a smaller to-do list, you face playing catch-up for the rest of the week. You feel guilty too because time is tight and now you’ve just made it a whole lot worse for yourself.
But don’t worry…
Even if it’s late in the day, there are still things you can do RIGHT NOW to turn a mess into a win.
And if you keep reading, I’ll show you how…
- Give yourself a reality check
Procrastination is comfortable.
When you avoid doing the thing you know you have to do, you feel better – in the moment. Procrastination gives you instant gratification. It’s easier and more fun to do the things that don’t need much thought or focus.
So to kick-start your day, you have to get real with yourself about what you’re actually doing.
You have to label the endless cups of coffee as the distraction they are.
It’s going to feel painful owning the excuses that sabotage your day. But once you take ownership you also take back your power because now you can make different choices.
- Break the pattern
Procrastination takes you down the spiral of nothingness! Owning the excuses are the first step to turning the screw the other way. But you can speed up this process by tapping back into your goal.
Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Whether your goal is to grow your business, get a promotion, make more time for your kids, save for your holiday, or launch a side hustle, reminding yourself of the bigger picture will help change your thinking.
Unlock your passion and you’ll unlock a flood of motivation that will help you get stuff done.
With a chunk of your day gone, you have limited time to create a win. You won’t be able to do everything, so instead revisit your to-do list and identify the one task that’s going to make the biggest dent.
Estimate how long that task will take to complete, block out that time in your planner, and put all your effort into getting it done.
If you finish the task quicker than expected or you get a second wind of motivation, awesome! You can move onto something else.
But that comes later.
For now, pick the one task that once done will still make the day feel like a win.
Then set yourself up for success…
- Create the right environment
Make it as easy as possible to finish the task you’ve picked by eliminating ALL distractions.
That means turning off your cell, switching off notifications, closing down any tabs you don’t need, and telling people not to interrupt you.
Clear your workspace so the only thing in front of you is the task you have to do.
You may find focus music helps. I love using BrainFM. It’s a simple tool that helps switch on focus at will. You can get five free trial sessions here.
If you’re already flakey and unfocused, the last thing you want is a distracting thought drawing your attention away. If you lose your train of thought (when you’ve worked so hard to get back into the zone), you risk going back to square one.
So muster all that discipline you stay on track – you’ll be glad you did!
- Give yourself a reward
Need more motivation to clock up your win?
If so, promise yourself a reward!
What can you give yourself that will spur you to crank out that task? It can be as simple as a glass of something on completion or permission to binge on Netflix with zero guilt when small people are tucked up in bed!
Whatever that carrot is for you, dangle it and use it as fuel to finish what you started.
- Then get to work.
Stop dithering and delaying!
Instead, put on a timer for the time you need and get your head down.
Every time you feel tempted to shift focus, rein yourself back to the task at hand. Remind yourself of that reward. Remember your bigger picture goal. Dig in for some delayed gratification and that feeling you’ll have when the job is done.
Do what it takes to turn an unproductive day into a win and I promise you’ll feel so much better for it.
We’re often too quick to be hard on ourselves when the day doesn’t shape up as planned.
But negative self-talk doesn’t serve you in the long term. Instead, it drags down your self-esteem and drains your productivity and performance further.
So remember to celebrate your mini wins.
Give yourself a pat on the back for being able to turn a bad situation around. Positivity is rocket fuel that’s going to help you keep going.
Even on the days when it feels tough.
Finally, make sure you learn from the day.
Take a few minutes to capture your reflections in your journal – so you can learn from the experience.
- What triggers sent you on that downward spiral?
- What did you learn about turning on productivity at will?
- What could you do differently going forward to prevent procrastination slipping you up again?
Reflect and learn from your experiences and even rubbish days will reveal insights that help you become more productive in the future.
How do you recover from an unproductive day?
Share your tips and ideas in the comments below.