Everyone has bad days. Having them does not mean you are not productive in general. It means you will be temporarily less productive. Even the hardest worker will need to rest from time to time.
I wrote this six-item list on one of my bad days. It was already 11:00 on a weekday and I was still in bed, even though I woke up at 6:00, as usual. I started thinking about all the reasons why I wanted to get my day going.
All the goals you set for yourself depend on getting things done. I do not believe in pushing ourselves too hard but there is no way you will achieve everything you hope to if you spend most of your days in bed.
After realizing I needed to get out of bed and start working towards my goals, it was time to figure out how to do it. That was when I came up with this list, based on my previous experiences. These are six things to do when you are having a bad day.
1. Write down your daily to-do list
I can't stress enough how important it is to know what you want to get done on each day. It will include important and urgent tasks you need to get done and tasks related to your goals. Do not forget to prioritize.
After you get in the habit of writing your to-do list, you may be able to set it without writing it down. However, since you are having a bad day, I would recommend writing it down in order to help you organizing your thoughts.
2. Clean up your space
Chances are your physical space is as messy as your head during one of your bad days. Do not spend too much time tidying up but do enough to have a peaceful environment so you can focus.
Clean up the room in which you will be working, your digital space, your body, and your mind. You will feel ready to get your day started.
Whenever I am having a bad day, I have a hard time eating. It seems that I am so behind on everything that I can't spare time to eat. However, when you starve yourself, you will have a hard time focusing and processing information. Make sure to eat something before moving on to the next step.
4. Start with what feels easier
This is a trick that works for me. When I have an apparently easy and fast task to complete during one of my bad days, I start with that one. After the first task, it is easier to move to harder and more complex tasks that are urgent or important.
5. Push towards what is urgent or important
It is no good for your goals and commitments if you work a full-day and do not achieve what is urgent or important. That is the challenge: having a bad day and still managing to finish most of the tasks that are urgent or important.
6. Plan your next day
After you do everything you needed to on your bad day, it is time to take some preventive measures. It may not be possible to completely avoid bad days but you can work towards minimizing their number and their impact on your productivity.
Plan the next day. Organize your calendar and write down your to-do list. Do this on the end of each day and you will always know where to start on the next morning. That will avoid you feeling overwhelmed.
If nothing else works, give yourself a day. For some people, a few personal hours are enough but others need a few days to get back on their feet. Do not give up on trying to get over your bad days and be productive. However, if you come to a point where you know nothing will work, accept that and have a day.