7 Tips For Bouncing Back From An Unproductive Day
Uh oh, you've gone and messed up yesterday. You somehow slid out of the productive mood and instead went headfirst into Amy Schumer skit videos and Facebook friend trolling — and before you knew it the workday was over and you accomplished nadda. So how do you bounce back from an unproductive day the next morning? Sure it was fun slacking off during the time being, but now you have a mountain of work on your desk double the size it's supposed to be, and that can be a little intimidating. So intimidating, in fact, that you might not want to even start it.And so the vicious cycle continues. But you can break out of it! Catching up from a lazy day doesn't have to be as painful as we've come to know them; with a little strategic planning yesterday's mistakes can be remedied without too many tears. Below are seven tips on how to come back from an unproductive day swinging, with steps on how to alleviate the pain, get yourself in the mood to go into beast mode, and plan so you get double the amount of word done without frying your brain. Ready? You've got this.
1. Wake Up Earlier — But With A Treat
Alright, you messed up. You spent all day yesterday watching cat videos online and are now a full day behind. So the only logical step to pack in two days worth of work into a cool eight hour workday is to start earlier. Put your alarm clock for two or three hours earlier than usual, and be prepared to tackle the day before the sun comes up.
But first, to make this busy day a little less stressful, start off the day with a treat. Lifestyle writer Patrick Allan at Lifehacker explained, "When you get up that morning, don’t dive straight into work, though. Indulge in something you love. This starts your morning on an optimistic note, putting you in the right frame of mind for tackling the day."
So brew yourself the fancy coffee, pick up a tin of muffins the day prior, or start the morning with a favorite book or an inspiring Pinterest feed — since you have to start the day bright and early, you might as well make yourself excited about it.
2. Create A Master Checklist Monica Gellar Would Be Proud Of
Now that you started off the morning on a positive note, it's time to get down to business. To ensure that you actually stay on track today and have enough time to complete all your tasks, you need to create a detailed list of to-dos.
Take out a piece of paper and write down everything you failed to do yesterday, and everything you need to finish today. Entrepreneur writer Kevin Daum told career development site The Muse, "You don’t have to be a detail freak, but listing tasks and checking them off will help you stay organized and productive. Listing everything helps you assess time and prioritize."
This will help you get results because you'll notice that the list isn't overwhelmingly long. Instead of stressing out over an arbitrary number of tasks you need to finish before the work whistle rings, you'll know exactly what you need to wrap up today, and have a game plan set on how to tackle it. Speaking of which, move on to the next step: Scheduling tasks.
3. Schedule The Checklist Into Specific Time Segments
Now that you have a master list, it's time to keep you moving steadily and productively forward by actually scheduling it into time segments. Whether you program your tasks into your phone or desktop so notifications pop up, or do it the old fashioned way and write them down on a paper calendar, break up your activities into time blocks so you keep yourself on schedule.
Career advice writer Richard Moy at The Muse promised, "But if you’re at least willing to keep those annoying notifications enabled on your phone, don’t worry — you’ll get a lot of those things on your list done really, really quickly." And the great thing about this is it'll help you bat away distractions — if you know there's no time to veer away from work and sit on Instagram for 30 minutes, you won't feel tempted to try it. This might sound militant, but it's what you have to do to catch up.
4. Schedule A Block Of Time That Has Zero Distractions
Schedule in a "beast mode" block of time where you'll tackle your hardest projects and activities. In this time period, promise yourself you'll be void of any and all distractions so you can just go ham on your checklist.
Daum shared, "I personally need email, texting, and even the internet to go away so I can think and write." Follow his advice and do the same thing: In your time schedule, carve out two to three hours where you're not allowed to push back from your desk or let your fingers stop typing. That'll be your serious work time, and you have to make a pact with yourself to honor it in order to do the most important tasks on your list.
5. Find Your "Mood Anchor"
We all have little details or quirks about our work area that help us settle down and focus on work. For some that might be a certain flavor of tea, a particular mug you drink coffee out of, or a chair in a coffee shop that signals "go time." That's called your mood anchor, and you need to grab it to fall into a beastly-catch-up-mode state of mind.
Career advice writer at Aaron Lynn at productivity site Asian Efficiency came up with this term. Lynn explained, "Most people have something that serves as a good 'anchor' for their productive moods. We’ve found that it is usually something like coffee or green tea. Personally, I only drink English Breakfast Tea when I’m really focused on a creative task, so for me it serves as an anchor for being in a productive flow."
It's a trigger that throws you back into productivity mode — so grab your anchor and settle yourself into the right state of mind.
6. Tackle The Easy Tasks First To Pump Yourself Up
To take out the stress of your intimidatingly long list today, pump yourself up by getting the easy, quick tasks out of the way first. Lifestyle writer Kristin Wong advised, "Look at your task list and picking something that can be done in about 15-30 minutes. When you’re able to cross something off your list, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. You can work from that momentum and move on to bigger tasks." Once you see yourself crossing off tasks, you'll feel like it's all a little more manageable than previously anticipated.
7. Keep Your Mind Fresh During The Overload
Since you have so much extra on your plate, make sure you alternate between types of tasks to keep yourself fresh and alert. Lynn explained, "For example, if you’re doing creative work but finding it hard to produce words or images, switch over to some 'easy' administrative tasks like returning phone calls, checking email or running some errands." By switching between different series of tasks, you'll keep yourself from becoming too overburdened with one type of activity.
While catching up from a cheat day can be tough stuff, if you use the power of lists and schedules, jumping back into productive mode won't be all that hard. You'll see: By the time five o'clock rolls back around, you'll realize it wasn't as painful as previously thought.