slow day

Slow or Unproductive Day? Turn It Around Fast Using This

Unproductive days are part of the game (unfortunately).

Even if you are make the best of plans and you are fully energized, motivated and ready to crush any problems and tackle any obstacles, there’s only so much that depends on you.

An emergency meeting is called just in the middle of you writing that genius blog post, you get a flat tire on the way to work, you get stuck in the elevator (oh, the stories I can tell you, but we’ll leave it for another time), your motivation or your energy evaporates in the middle of the day… there are so many thing that can go wrong in your day and turn it from a productivity powerhouse to “I cannot believe half my day is gone and I’ve accomplished nothing”.

But before you throw in the towel on your slow day and hope that tomorrow is going to be a better one, check out this easy-to-follow process:

Sometimes you plan, you plan, you plan, and then your day does not turn out anything like you planned… it happens. But that does not mean you should throw in the towel and give in. You can still turn things around.

Here is the exact process you can use to turn any unproductive day around. It might seem a little complicated at first, but once you go through the steps you’ll see that each one of them is pretty easy and it takes only a few minutes to do.

1. Don’t Freak Out

When you realize that things are not going your way, you tend to freak out. “Oh my god, I’ve been unproductive, I haven’t done anything for two hours, etc.”

The unfortunate thing is that the more you freak yourself out, the more unproductive you become.

Take a breather and don’t freak out. And especially don’t beat yourself up. Even if it’s your fault that you’re being unproductive, it’s not going to make you more productive to beat yourself up.

2. Take A Break

“Wait, I’ve been unproductive, I cannot take a break!”

I hear you, but still… take a break, it’s important.

Take a five-minute walk or go and wash your face. Take a break and disconnect from the situation, even if it’s bad, even if you don’t have the time, take a break. You need to change your environment for a little bit.

Ideally, go outside and take a ten-minute walk.

First, you take a mental break by not freaking yourself out, and second, you take a physical break by actually taking a break. It will take you no more than ten minutes. The longer the break, the better, but I know you are short on time so five minutes is perfectly fine. Go wash your face, go up and down the stairs, go outside, go on the balcony, breathe in some fresh air, but just take a break.

3. Reassess The Situation

You need to reassess what happened, why it happened, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

You had a plan, the plan for some reason got ruined, so you need to reassess the situation and make a new one. You need to adjust to the circumstances, adjust to the changes, reassess the situation, and make a plan.

Sit down for five minutes and make a plan. Just ask yourself: “okay I have this much time, I have one third of my day left, or one half, or three-fourths, (whatever), what’s the new plan?

4. Prioritize Your Tasks

While you’re making your plan, you need to also prioritize your tasks.

Prioritize ruthlessly.

Now you have less time. You need to do first the tasks that are super important or the ones that absolutely need to be accomplished today. Maybe you have an important report due, or maybe you have something that’s actually due today that you cannot postpone for tomorrow. While you’re reassessing, prioritize your tasks.

If there’s something that needs to be done today: highest priority. If there’s something that’s actually high priority, put it on the top of your list. Now you have less time, less energy, or less motivation, so now you need to be very good at prioritizing. While previously you had a full day to do this, now you have a half day, so naturally you cannot accomplish everything.

Do the most important tasks first, and if you have any time left over, then do the other ones.

5. Change Your Environment

Sometimes your environment is the cause of your “unproductivity”.

If you are working from home and the neighbors are being too loud, that’s a problem. Or maybe there’s construction in your building. Or maybe you’re in the office and your coworker is super loud on the phone.

Change your environment. Eliminate the threat, eliminate what makes you unproductive.

Even if you cannot blame your lack of productivity on what’s around you, it might still be a good idea to get a fresh start, somewhere else. Grab what you need and go to a coffee shop or go to the library. Or go to another cubicle in the office, or go into a different room in your home. It might be helpful to change your environment and give yourself a break and a fresh new start. That alone might just make you more productive and start changing your day around.

6. Get To Work


Once you’ve stopped freaking out, you took a break, you reassessed the situation, you prioritized and made a plan, you changed your environment, now it’s time to get to work. You have no more time to waste. You’ve made a plan, you’ve reassessed it based on the current circumstances, you’ve eliminated possibly the threat by changing your environment, now it’s time to get cracking.

But there might still be a problem.

Even after doing all of the above, you might still be hesitant to start working. If you’re still having troubles, here’s great tip that’s going to almost guarantee that you’re going to start working: take it easy.

Instead of jumping in with both feet and getting immediately to your highest-priority tasks, do a couple of small, less meaningful tasks first.

Go clean out your desk, rearrange your documents… even check your email for a few minutes. That’s going to get you in the mood, it’s going to get the ball rolling, and then you can jump into the actual work.

Important: don’t get caught up in the small things. Set a timer for 5 minutes and when the time is up, move on to the actually important tasks.

Your Turn Now

That’s how you do it. That’s how you turn an unproductive day around regardless of the circumstances.

unproductive day

You don’t freak out, you take a little bit of a breather, you reassess the situation, make a plan, you prioritize, possibly change the environment, and you get to work and take it easy at first. You do a small task, then a bigger task, then an even bigger task, and then before you know it, you’ve already hit your highest-priority tasks and your slow day has turned into a productive one.

When you’re faced with an unproductive day, regardless of the circumstances, just go through the steps and finish with a bang.

Question: what are some other tactics for turning a slow day around? Share in the comment section below: