Some days you show up at work, but your heart and your mind don't come with you. You're present physically, but you just can't get the mental focus or the energy you need to move up the mountain of tasks you need to accomplish. Before you know it, it's afternoon and that's when you start to curse yourself for wasting the day.
This is a bad news/good news situation. Bad news is, you're not getting that time back. Good news is, you're not alone, this kind of thing happens to everyone (it may be a sign that you're just tired). And more good news, there are ways to make use of the time you have left in the day so you can finish strong and motivated to come back tomorrow firing on all cylinders.
If you're stuck, unfocused, spinning your wheels. Here are a few things you can do right away to return to productivity:
1. Stop -- Seems counterintuitive. But like I said, sometimes your inability to focus is a sign your creative brain is tired. Give it a break. Take a walk, read a book, turn off your computer, go talk to a friend. When you come back, you'll be more clear headed and energized. I do recommend that you leave your phone and tablet behind during this break. Get away from screens and the easy distraction of the internet. Really rest.
2. Lower your expectations (temporarily) -- You were going to write the whole report today, I know. But today wasn't your day. How about just doing the outline? Whatever your job is, maybe you can't get it all done today. But you can probably do a small piece and moving a small way forward is still forward progress. Set a timer for 30 minutes, get done as much as you can in that amount of time. Chances are when the 30 minutes is up, you'll be fired up with all sorts of ideas on how to keep going.
3. Outline your next day's work -- You have to have faith that when you give yourself a mental break, you will come back reinvigorated. You can make productive use of your tomorrow if you use your low energy today to map out what you will do. Make a list, prioritize, and write down start and stop times for each of the tasks you will do tomorrow. When that list is done, pat yourself on the back. You've achieved something that will help you achieve more tomorrow. But remember that old adage: plan your work and work your plan.
Everyone has an off day now and then. Don't beat yourself up when it happens to you. Recognize it, step back, regroup and come back stronger. For more ideas on getting out of a rut, gaining productivity, focus and momentum, get my
Sometimes the solutions are simpler than you think, you just need someone to show them to you.