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How to Handle an Unproductive day effectively and Get Back to Work

Unproductivity is unavoidable. But how to pivot it and take back our control totally lies in our hands. Find out 8 effective ways to handle unproductivity.

How to Handle an Unproductive day effectively and Get Back to Work

Wednesday August 19, 2020,

6 min Read

We all might have unproductive days more often than before since we started working from home. You see, thriving in hustle culture is the new revolution, and being unproductive is considered a sin by most of us. But it's okay (100% okay) to be not productive all the time.

Is today the day your to-do list scares you, and all you want to do is NOTHING? 

I have three crucial tasks with flexible deadlines and no mood to work. Here I am sitting for three hours straight staring at my calendar, sipping the 3rd cup of coffee, and finally decided to pen this article down.

Bear with the irony!

To handle our no-mood-to-work days and invigorate our productive nerve, I have listed down a few tricks that's been helping me (including today) to get back on the rails! 

1. Take a Break

Wait, don't close the tab now. 

Breaks might be the most unproductive way to handle an unproductive day. But, breaks help a lot in rejuvenation. Take a refreshing break from work. Pamper the passion in you. Sing a song; complete your journal; go for a walk; listen to rock. 

Take a Break

Do whatever that makes you happy and kindles your inner self.

2. Look Out for Inspiration

Who inspires you the most in your field of work? Hit their name up on the internet and observe their next strategy. Though it might sound odd, push the ego apart, and find inspiration to visualize your future goals.

Look out for Inspiration

You can also read a book or watch a movie that inspires. Suits TV series is my go-to show. What's yours? Add them in the comments. 

3. Nap for a While

Napping when you haven't even ticked one task off your list might feel counterproductive. But, a 30-minute power nap can help you be more alert and get you back on track.

Nap for a while

Make sure to set your alarm else you would let your unproductive day slip through another unproductive day. 

4. Introspect

Instead of feeling guilty, use the time for a quick self-introspection. See how much you have progressed in your life or find the areas to improve. It can be a new skill or personal commitment. Make a plan of action to accelerate your ride towards your vision in your purple car. 


PS: If it's Monday, plan the rest of the week. Else, propose the next day.  

5. Shift to a New Environment 

If you have your designated workplace at home, try shifting to a different room. Go to the nearby coffee shop or terrace. If you can't go out due to lockdown, try changing your line of sight.

Shift to a new environment

Look out of your window and enjoy the view. If you have windows facing just other buildings, try observing patterns on the brick walls. Absorb the colours, notice the fading paint, question the cloud clusters, and decipher the skies' shade code. You might feel like squandering, but in reality, you are giving space for your brain to sigh, breathe, and you have no clue when the idea wave gushes towards you.

Klaus Crow of Simplified living calls this as "Invisible Productivity."

That one wave is all you need to get things started. Wait for the rush embraces you. Until then, enjoy the breeze. Maybe try remembering the smell of the sea.

6. Eat the Frog or Devour the Brownie

If you are in a mood to work but you are just not eating the frog and procrastinating, fret not, here is a quick list of procrastination hacks you can try right away after reading this article. 


  • Merlin Mann's 10*2 rule - Work on the task for 10 minutes, followed by a 2-minute break. 
  • 30:10 rule - It's just an extended version where you work for 30 minutes with 10 minutes break. If you gain your focus only in the 9th minute of your task (like me), you can try this.
  • Break your significant tasks into mini-chunks. If you ought to write a blog, write the headlines. Use the motivation of completing task 1 to slide to job 2.
  • Shoo away the distractions - It's a no-brainer. Disconnect from the internet, use apps to temporarily block your social media sites, and turn on the Don't Disturb Mode (DND) on your phone.
  • Smart Procrastination - Procrastinate the task you dread to get other jobs done. Be a structured and smart procrastinator. 
  • Choose between Brownie or the Frog - Complete the task you despise first or kick-start your workday with a task you love to do. Frog or the brownie, it's up to you. As far as you start with something, you are good to go.

It sounds doable, right? Pick one, try, and cheers if this helped.

7. Find your Anchor

Have you noticed that a few actions get you into the work mode? It can be a cup of steaming hot black coffee or work mode music or Gary Vee's video. 

FInd your anchor

Well, guess what? These actions and triggers have a name, and they are called productivity anchors. 

"Most people have something that serves as a good "anchor" for their productive moods. We've found that it is usually something like coffee or green tea. I only drink English Breakfast Tea when I'm focused on a creative task, so for me, it serves as an anchor for being in a productive flow," - Aaron Lynn of Asian Efficiency.

It differs for every one of us. Well, if you haven't found your anchor, ponder over your working patterns to understand which action serves as your anchor.

Use your productivity anchor to shift streams of your productivity ship. 

8. Do your Productive yet Unproductive Tasks

You might not be in a mood to work. But, we all have a list of essential yet menial daily tasks. Pay your bills, check the groceries for the month, feed your cat (I wish I had one), or even catch up with an old friend. 

Grocery Bag

Try pivoting your unproductive day to restore your work-life balance and smile like a boss at the end of the day. 

Summing Up

Having an unproductive day is the new normal. Often, we stress a lot of doing nothing and end up affecting the work pattern throughout the week. That's not something we want. So, instead of dwelling on it, we can cut some slack and make peace with it.

If you found this article refreshing, high-five. Well, hit the clap button five times to let me know :)