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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.