October 08, 2021 by Andrea Rajic
We all have those days. It's rainy outside, it's Friday, your dog is extra playful today, and the dishes are waiting for you in the kitchen. You get up and dressed for work, but you just can't seem to focus and get anything done - or at least you feel like it.
Whether you work from an office, a coworking space, or your home, we all have days where we feel out of sync and unproductive. Sometimes, our tasks and workloads can't allow a casual day - so what do we do then?
The answer: find little ways, tips and tricks, to get all our work done even on a slow day.
This article will dive into what these techniques are, how people use them, and whether they actually work.
There's a myriad of productivity hacks you can find online, and it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. Here we'll focus on the five most common ones that help employees regain focus, organize their tasks, and get an injection of energy and productivity.
Nowadays, most of us have to-do lists that are way too long to accomplish in a single day. Even for the organization champions among us, it's challenging to stay on top of everything. Trying to cross everything off the list can cause the opposite effect.
One of the most common productivity hacks is triage, which means you identify the tasks at hand by priority and start tackling the most urgent ones first. However, it doesn't end there - you also analyze what's making you unproductive on that specific day.
"My go-to productivity tip is to analyze and detect what I can do better and improve on that specific day. I use this tip every day, not just on slow days." -Salah Moad, Intelcia
A productivity killer for both office-based employees and the WFH team is trying to achieve all of your day's work in a single sitting. Taking regular breaks is critical not just for your productivity but for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Standing up, taking a walk, or even going to grab a cup of coffee and chatting with someone for a few minutes can help your brain reset and come back to work re-energized.
One of the favorite techniques of employees everywhere is starting small. Identify the tasks that are easier, more approachable, or shorter to finish and do those first. It can help set the mood for the rest of your day.
"When I'm having a slow day, I try to tackle the smaller, more approachable tasks. The dopamine my brain gets when I start crossing off items on my to-do list normally provides some momentum to keep getting stuff done — even if they're small. Then, on days I am feeling productive, I can tackle bigger projects with fewer distractions." - Nicole Kahansky, Hypercontext
While you're taking those much-needed breaks, think about sneaking in some quick exercises. Moving your body helps improve your blood flow, overall energy levels and enables you to switch focus for a while.
"When I feel my mind is overwhelmed with the routine or mundaneness of a task, I take a break. But not just any break - an inverted yoga break. It helps my literal perspective slow down. I swear it does something to be upside down for a moment and then get back to your tasks right side up." -Kristina Lopez, Full Sail University
The final productivity tip has a lot to do with your work environment and whether it stimulates or distracts you. For example, if you work in an office, chances are someone is tapping you on the shoulder every 15 minutes with a pressing question or just some casual talk.
If you're at home, you're dealing with family members, pets, your neighbor renovating the kitchen, and the temptation of Netflix.
The solution here: assess your work environment and see if it matches your workflow. You may find investing in good-quality headphones or going to a nearby flex workspace to be the key to overcoming a slow, unproductive day.
Think about your usual daily tasks, how you organize your day, and whether you prefer deep work or multitasking - that can help you decide which way to look.
Until you try something out, you probably won't know. We're all different, and something that helps you won't work for someone else - and vice versa.
If you think you must be the only one who has a slow day here and there, you can rest assured that you're not alone. All employees who filled out our forms and gave their tips say they use productivity hacks at least once or twice a week.
We're not machines, and it's only human not to be perfectly productive every day. Feeling guilty isn't the way to go, as it can lead to anxiety, overworking, and burnout.
When your to-do list is too long to achieve, or you're just not at the top of your game on any given day, take a break, reflect, and see what you can do to improve your efficiency for the day. Small things can truly make a difference and help you cross those tasks off your list... most of them, anyway.