Has this ever happened to you? Surely it has, maybe even today:
You wake up with the best of intentions, in a good mood, and you even have a list of the things you want to accomplish.
You do your “morning thing”, whatever that may be, you head off to work and the momentum is building in a positive way.
You’re not even thinking about it, you’re in the flow of life, kicking butt and taking names, and then BOOM, around mid-morning, some irritating lousy interruption crashes in to what was shaping up to be a lovely day.
It could be a personal or business interruption but it gets you out of flow.
No problem, you think, I’ll deal with this in short order and then get back into the game. After all, this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s part of life, just deal with it, you’re a pro at organizing madness.
But for some reason, this time around, you get sucked into a vortex of distraction.
Lunch time rolls around and you’re still sorting through this mess that somebody has plopped down into the middle of your bliss. You spend your lunch half eating and half problem solving and BAM you finally nip this irritating little wench of a problem in the bud.
Whew! Now you can get back to work, you can get back to checking things off your list, only to find your momentum is totally gone, this THING just sucked up all your productive energy, but you resolve to press on.
So you trudge through the next few tasks kind of mindless and irritated. You look up, see it’s 3:00 already, and you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing!
DAMN, really? You had such big plans for this day and now it’s totally wasted.
Have hope my friend, even though this day is almost over and even though it’s been totally unsatisfying so far, it can still be salvaged and you can still go sleep tonight with a feeling of accomplishment.
7 Ways to Turn Around an Unproductive Day
Depending on your situation, maybe not all of these suggestions will apply to you. Hopefully though, there’s at least one you can always use to turn a bad day into a good day.
Before you apply any of these things, you need to just “get away from yourself”. In other words, stop what you’re doing because at this point you’re not doing anything but spinning your wheels. You need to take a break because chances are you haven’t gone on a real break all day.
So get out of your work space for 15 minutes and just breath, walk around the block, or even run a short uncomplicated errand which would be both productive and a break from crazy land.
When you’re back, try any of the following:
Make Someone Else’s Day
No day is ever wasted when you make someone else’s day. On this day, we’re not just talking about a random act of kindness (which we all can do more of). What we’re talking about today is making a meaningful impact on one of your co-workers, subordinates, or even your boss like:
- Find someone else who’s having a hard day and ask them what they need help with…then help them. If you’re part of an organization, you’re not just helping them, you’re helping yourself. You’re creating an ally who will help you down the line and you may even be elected employee of the month.
- Identify someone you work with who you really appreciate (c’mon now, there’s at least one), and say “Have you got a few minutes, we need to talk.” Of course they’re going to think it’s something serious but you just look them in the eye and tell them how much you sincerely appreciate what they do. You’ll blow their mind.
- Just offer extra, out of the ordinary doses of kindness, gratitude, and appreciation to everyone you interact with for the rest of the day whether it be at home, work, or on the street. You may just develop a new habit that opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Get Just One More Thing Done, Mindfully and Carefully
When you thought you were getting back on track earlier in the day, you were probably looking at your list and thinking, “I’ve still got to get all of this done today but now I’ve got less time to do it.”
At this point your mind is in hurry up mode. Your multi-tasking instinct is in overdrive. Yet nothing is getting done.
Stop. Pretend there is only one more thing to do and pretend you have all the time in the world to do it. Now give it all of your attention, like it’s your very first time doing it. Do it mindfully and carefully, like you’re creating a masterpiece. Put your soul into this one singular task and do it well.
Now step back and admire your work. Look at the clock. Got time to do one more thing? Then do it exactly the same way.
Do Something You Didn’t Plan Today
If you have the liberty, think of something to do that was not a part of today’s original plan. Think of something that’s “lighter” but still contributes to your overall purpose.
You see, your mind was all caught up in what you were supposed to do today but now you’re not getting any of those “need to” things done. So you might as well do something that was not a part of today’s plan rather than nothing that was part of today’s plan.
Flexibility is a very useful skill. Quite frankly, the more driven you are, the less likely you are to use it. Being driven is usually a good thing but there are times when flexibility will save the day.
Fill Your Mind with Ridiculously Positive Thoughts
Pop in the ear buds and start listening to something that puts you back into that positive state you were in when the day began. There are plenty of positive podcasts to suit just about any personality, not to mention audio books. If you prefer to listen to music, just make sure it’s optimistic, uplifting music.
If your work situation doesn’t allow you to listen to positivity before you leave, come up with a mantra that you can repeat over and over in your mind along the lines of:
“All is well in my world, good things are constantly happening for me.”
Or you can use this legendary affirmation from Charles Haanel, author of the The Master Key System:
“I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy.”
Use these or use them as templates for your own and repeat your mantra incessantly over and over in your mind. Your conscious mind may not buy into it but your subconscious will take it on faith.
By the way, numerous successful people repeat their affirmations/mantras to themselves morning, noon, and night every day.
Do Something for Yourself
What do you like to do that you haven’t done lately? Run, work out, meditate, read, arrange flowers, color in your coloring book, build miniature wooden ships in bottles?
Sometimes, you may feel unproductive because you’re not addressing the unique requirements that make you the wonderful, singular, marvelous person you are.
Variety in life is not a want or desire, it’s a basic human need. Fun and frivolity can be constructive and feel productive if it makes you feel more alive, like you’re expressing your unique talents.
So if you leave the work day totally unsatisfied, at least go home and express yourself creatively. The human mind craves the feeling of accomplishment, whether it was done at work or at play.
Do a Home Project That You’ve Been Putting Off
Home environment has a profound impact on your psyche.
Who doesn’t have that one project at home you keep putting off because “you haven’t found the time” like putting up those curtains you bought three months ago or cleaning those dirty dishes that have been in the sink for two days.
Go home and spruce up your living space, even if it’s just a little bit. Knowing that you’ve taken one more step to creating or maintaining that fresh, comfortable sanctuary you deserve can help you feel like you’ve had a productive day.
Connect with a Friend or Colleague
Maybe this is one of those days you need to reach out to someone whose advice you value.
Here’s a little secret: People love it when you reach out to them for advice and they especially love it if you’ve never called them for advice before.
It makes them feel valued (which was a productive thing for you to do) and in return they will give you all their attention and best intentions.
Even if you’re really just calling to vent, ask for their advice on how they would have handled the day, you never know what they might offer. Profound insights often come from the most unexpected places.
And even if you don’t learn anything new, you’ve made a positive connection with someone, and that is always a meaningful way to end the day.