Ever have one of those days where you don’t feel well and all you want in the world is to be a couch potato? And your long to-do list is calling you, but your brain and body are not cooperating. It’s going to an unproductive day. Before you give up, try these ten tips to rescue a bad day and be productive even when you feel awful.
1. Take a Walk
Whatever it is that has you feeling awful (hangover, anyone?), don’t despair. Perhaps what you need is a 15-minute walk.
Weather permitting, get outside and walk at a moderate pace for at least 15 minutes. Studies show walking gets our blood flowing and can make us more creative.
Can’t get outside due to weather? Hit the gym, just get up and take a stroll around your office, or learn how to build a treadmill desk.
2. Track Stuff
Challenge yourself by tracking your daily progress. Whether you’re a writer who measures word count, or an artist who logs brush strokes, figure out your one thing to track.
Studies show that when we frequently monitor our progress, we are likelier to succeed. Simply tracking your weight each day can help dieters lose pounds.
Even when you’re having a bad day, do your one thing for at least 5 minutes. Don’t allow a “0” for the day. Momentum may turn and 5 minutes may turn into one hour before you know it.
3. Time yourself
Call me a nerd, but my favorite way to get things done is to time myself. Timing ourselves lets us focus on one thing. Allow yourself to get lost, get into a flow state and only resurface when that phone timer goes off.
Start small—just 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Then, work your way up to 60-90 minutes focusing on a single task, project, or creative endeavor.
4. Earn a reward
After you put in some time, you deserve a reward. Make a deal with yourself that if you spend a chunk of time on your task, you can earn a treat.
Maybe it’s chocolate, wine or a hot bath. Rescue your bad day and be sure to treat yourself. You deserve it!
5. Make It a Game
Turn your to-do list into a game. How fast can you knock off your tasks? How quickly can you clear your inbox?
This is more fun if you have an instant messaging buddy whom you can compete with in real-time.
6. Play Music
There’s nothing like the right song to get us energized when we’re feeling down in the dumps. Throw on your favorite record or better yet, listen to a playlist on your favorite music channel.
I enjoy listening to streaming radio stations based on my favorite bands or artists. The station (Pandora, Spotify, or Napster) does the work of selecting tracks. I recommend the Echo and the Bunnymen Radio channel if you like 80s music.
7. Get Real With Yourself
Is the issue that you don’t actually like what you need to get done, and so you’re making excuses instead? Then, be honest with yourself. Is this something you must do? What would happen if you skipped it or outsourced it or delegated it?
Ever notice how a good belly laugh can help us forget our problems? Create an “I’m having a bad day” bookmark list in your browser. A list of funny pictures, cat videos, or cartoons can help you so much when you’re having a lousy time.
Watch this if you need a laugh right now.
Or read the daily cartoon at xkcd.com.