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How to Stay Productive When Your Mood is Low

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I’ve spoken before about how tricky it can be to stay productive every day when working from home. It can become even more of a challenge when my mood is low. If you struggle with any sort of poor mental health, you will know just how difficult some days can be. Here are some ways to stay productive when your mood is low.


Change your environment

My sofa is my happy place. I work really well here, it’s comfortable, it just works well for me. Some days however, I definitely find myself stuck in a rut because I’m sitting in the same spot every day. It might sound too simple, but often just moving from the sofa to the dining table to do some work can make such a difference.

Of course it isn’t always possible to completely change your environment if you work in an an office or another space which isn’t your own home. Other simple changes such as going for a walk at lunch instead of staying in the staff room can really help.

Start with tasks you enjoy

This contradicts what some professionals would advise. Many people would say you should start with the worst task first to get it out of the way. There is even a book about it called “eat that frog”. The issue is, when I’m feeling like crap and want to do nothing, that logic doesn’t really work for me.

Instead, I like to start with the easy or enjoyable tasks. Something like washing the dishes, throwing the contents of the laundry basket in the washing machine, spending time on my social media to promote my blogs or answering a few emails. They’re small tasks and won’t take me long and once they’re done I often end up feeling more motivated to carrying on with other things.

Worst case, once the easy tasks are complete I still don’t feel like doing anything else but I have ticked a few things off my list and kept the house in some sort of order.

Take a day off

Sometimes you just need a break. I don’t think this needs much more explanation. It is OK to take a day off. Use it for something that you know will help renew your productivity the next day. That could mean going for a long walk, meeting family or friends, having a bath, eating well or just catching up on sleep. Do whatever it is you need to do to recuperate. It can be hard to take time off when you already feel unproductive, but I promise you it will help.

Keep a rolling to-do list

This is something that I have found to be very very helpful.

On my phone I have a notes section and in there I store my to-do list. Each day I set myself a focus task (or tasks) and then a bonus task too. This allows me to distinguish easily between the important things I have to do, and the less important.

My focus will always be something like my freelancing work, normally with a deadline. Whichever important project I need to spend my time on that day takes priority that day. It will also likely have a blogging task in it. My bonus is, as you would imagine, the extra task I will try and get done in my day. It is normally something like dust the house or clean the bathroom. This one is not mandatory, but it would be ideal if I could complete it on top of my focus task(s).

Once my tasks are complete I replace them with a tick. I do not give myself new tasks for the next day until late that evening, right before bed. This means that, say I finish my focus at 3pm, I have all afternoon and evening to enjoy the fact that my list is complete. This has a major impact on my mental health and really helps to calm my brain down!

The beauty of the rolling to-do list, for me, is that it is not restricted to a page in a diary. This means that I don’t feel put off if I don’t complete something, which can be the biggest killer of motivation. Instead, it just gets rolled over to the next day.


We all have days when productivity just goes out the window and our mental health takes control. Instead of letting it frustrate you and stop you from functioning altogether, try some of these tips. No one has the ability to be on top form and productive every single day. It’s impossible. Recognise that that is OK and know that you will figure out your own way of finding the motivation to be productive again.


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  1. This is a great post, with so many good tips. I really struggle to motivate myself when I’m feeling low. I often find myself sat on my sofa all day, not getting anything done šŸ™ˆ

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      Snap, hence the post šŸ˜‰ Talking about staying productive seems to help me a lot too!

  2. What a really helpful post! I completely agree that changing your environment, even just slightly, can improve your mood and thereby your productivity! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and found some use in the tips Alex, thanks for visiting the blog!

  3. I love the rolling to do list idea, I am terrible for getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once and putting myself under pressure! I also like the idea of doing easier tasks when I’m feeling low. I think I do this already but feel guilty sometimes. Will stop the guilt now! Thanks for the tips šŸ™‚

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      You’re so welcome Alison! Sometimes all you can manage is clean dishes and a made bed, and that’s fine. šŸ™‚

  4. Kate durston says:

    Today I am actually feeling so unmotivated so your post has helped bring me out of my funk and get me up and moving. You make a great point about taking a day off. I often feel guilt or worry when I stop and take time but it is so important to keeping my mental health under control. Thank you for all the tips.
    Kate x

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      You’re so welcome Kate, I’m glad it helped! I’m the same, I always feel like I’m wasting a day if I take one of but I need to remember rest is important!

  5. I love the idea of a rolling to-do list and the idea of doing what you enjoy first. I usually have to work up a lot of energy to get done what I don’t want to do and then I don’t seem to ever get around to what I actually want to do, which makes the whole cycle worse. I think I’m going to try to do at least a few things I enjoy first. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      Thanks Emma, I’m glad you found the post useful! I hope it helps you, I’m the same and starting the day with enjoyable tasks always seems to help šŸ™‚

  6. Hannah says:

    Some really useful tips on this, I do struggle a lot when my mood is low but I find changing my environment as well helps me a lot to stay motivated.


    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      Thanks Hannah! It’s all common sense really but I do find it helpful to be reminded!

  7. Helen Parry says:

    I agree that doing something enjoyable at the start of the day gets you motivated! Mine is usually ironing – I think when I iron and find it calming. A lovely post Emma.

    1. Sunshine and Rain says:

      In that case, will you come and do my ironing for me please helen? šŸ˜›

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