Wrestling With Productivity – Four Ways to Salvage An Unproductive Day

I woke up this morning full of ideas and ways that this was going to be the best.day.ever(!) in terms of productivity. And then I sat down at my desk. And checked email. And checked my Twitter feed. And checked Facebook. And logged into my LinkedIn account and read a few articles. And then watched the video for a song I have not been able to get out of my head for days (and fantasized about singing back up with Pearl Jam – don’t judge). Then checked the weather forecast. Oh, and I made myself a coffee and hey – is that leftover cupcake batter in the fridge? Which meant I also made cupcakes. And before I knew it, it was noon and I’d done nothing except start and re-start the same “serious” blog post three times.

I know I’m not the only one who has had a day like this (even those who would never admit it out loud but are sheepishly nodding at the first paragraph). So, how can we rescue our days and salvage some productivity? Here are a few tips.

  1. Stop! Just stop! No, I’m not saying to call the day a wash, walk away from your desk and leave your office (as tempting as that may sound right now, it’s just going to make you feel worse). I’m saying to get the heck off Facebook, close that gossip site tab and get to work. It’s not easy to stop an unproductive day cold turkey, so on we go to step 2.
  2. Pick a small task and complete it. You know, answering that email that will only take you a minute, making that phone call that you need to make, filing that document that needs filing. By doing something small, you’re already getting there. You’ve done something productive!
  3. Keep that momentum going. Step 2 – completing a small task felt pretty good, didn’t it? Do another one. Keep doing them and soon, you’ll be back in a rhythm of productivity.
  4. Set yourself up for success. At the end of your day, make a to-do list. Jot down a few things that you know will need to be accomplished the next day. It’s easier to start being productive right away when you have a plan. And it’s positive reinforcement when you see crossed-off tasks on your list.

Four easy steps will put you back on track for the day. Just four. So, step away from this blog post and get to work, already! And when you do, I promise I’ll turn down the Pearl Jam and do the same.

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