How To Restart A Bad, Annoying, Unproductive Day

restart bad day
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could restart a bad day?
Like, literally, push a rewind button and get out of bed all over again?

That’s not exactly possible, but we can re-direct our energy and attitudes. I know because I do it all the time. See, I have this (somewhat ridiculous) belief that my productivity and mental state are an exceptionally delicate ecosystem that needs constant monitoring.

I wake up somewhere other than my own apartment and can’t start my day with a few slow rounds up and down Ramsey Hill and a protein shake? ALL IS LOST.
I fall down a Twitter hole for an hour? I guess I’m not accomplishing anything today.
I find myself eating a big bowl of mashed potatoes for lunch? MIGHT AS WELL FOLLOW IT UP WITH A BAG OF PIZZA ROLLS.
At least once a week I succumb to Newton’s First Law. You know: an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon. And in this case, I’m an object that is very busy refreshing her social media accounts and wearing her yoga pants all day.
Do you do this? Why is it so hard to break out of these ruts? Why do we decide “Welp, this day sucks. Might as well lean into the suck and abandon all hope of a good mood/accomplishing anything/wearing real clothes”?

I’m not having it. Let’s make a pact to (at least try to) dig ourselves out of the suck when we get stuck.

Here are six things I do when my day starts to get away from me and fall down a hole of suck, eye rolls, or Netflix marathons. 

Literally re-start it

If you’re lucky enough to work from home or for yourself, I highly recommend the power of the nap. Close your laptop, change into pajamas, close the blinds, and sleep for at least half an hour. When you get up, put on a different outfit, touch up your makeup, and approach your work as a new woman (or human).

Put yourself in a new setting

It sounds silly but when I’m working in a coffee shop I want to appear Busy and Important. And BIP (busy, important people) aren’t just bouncing between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They’re pounding away on book proposals and articles and their own ebooks.

I’m also very aware of the unspoken coffee shop agreement: if you bought a $3 coffee you get to hang out for 1-2 hours. Don’t be a dick. Don’t monopolize a table for six hours if you’re not going to buy anything else. So I want to actually work during my allotted time, hopefully absorbing the good vibes and productivity of those around me.

Do ‘legs up the wall

This yoga pose is white magic. Allegedly it “provides migraine and headache relief, calms anxiety, relieves symptoms of mild depression and insomnia.” I don’t know about any of that, but if I don’t have time for a nap, this pose centers me, calms me, and serves as a ‘divider’ between the non-awesome day I’ve been having and the glorious, inspired day I’m about to start.

Take a shower

Again, this is probably best for work-from-home types, but you can also use it to put some distance between a rough day at the office and a fun night out with friends. Heck, ‘Get wet’ is step two in my four step plan to feel better.

If you, like me, are lazy and hate restyling your hair, don’t wash it. Just jump in the shower, steam and lather up, maybe wash your bangs and mentally let go of your morning.

Physically distance yourself from the things that are making your day non-awesome

This seems obvious and yet? It’s not. (at least not to me). If you’re cranky because your office mate is too loud, go work in the conference room. If you’re frustrated with yourself for snacking nonstop, get thee to a public library where there are no snacks. If your roommate is winding you up, go meet up with a friend at a bar.

Write down how you want the rest of your day to go

I loved Danielle Dowling’s recent post about re-writing your feelings. If your current day has been “uninspired, unfocused, blah” why don’t you write out “I am a wizard of productivity. I can write like the wind – without typos, without social media breaks, without stupid their/they’re mistakes.” You get the idea.

How do you deal with bad, unproductive days?

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21 Comments

Todd Lawrence Lohenry

There is nothing silly about this thought: "I have this (somewhat ridiculous) belief that my productivity and mental state are an exceptionally delicate ecosystem that needs constant monitoring." #truestorysis

btw, did you know you could really pump up the jam on this blog by switching to Google+ as the commenting system?

Reply
Carly Kaste

I've been having a bunch of these days in a row lately and it's driving me crazy! In the past, though, I've found the best thing I can do is make sure I spend my first waking hour doing something productive or creative. I think it's kind of like that breakfast theory, that if you start your day off with a healthy breakfast, you'll be more likely/motivated to choose healthier meals throughout the rest of the day. These are great tips, too, though, and I'll definitely be trying them out!

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katielookingforward

I've only taken a hand full of yoga classes that do legs up the wall pose. But with the yucky weather we've been having, I might have my students do it instead of shavasana this evening. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Kelbar

Never underestimate the power of two mood-changers/ day-chargers: the right kind of music for an energy boost; and a soothing "walking meditation" or "mindful observation" outdoors.

Boppy music , and the squirrels , birds and rabbits in my neighborhood park never fail to cheer me up!

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Sarah M

I'm totally trying the legs up thing when I've got a migraine…I'd never heard of that before. I stay at home with my kids and homeschool them, but we definitely have days where everyone is crabby at each other, tons of whining (heh, even me), etc. so then I say, "Do over!" We split up into 1 room a piece, shut the door, and I put 15 minutes on the timer. It's usually enough time to get everyone cooled down and we literally try to start our day over. It doesn't happen too often, but it works.
Sarah M

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Leslie

I sometimes have "early morning dance parties." I literally have a playlist with this title on my iTunes and I play that while brushing my teeth, getting dressed etc. I would say 90% of the time I'm dancing around the house with happy dogs by the end of the mix (20 minutes) and in a better place to start my day.

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Kait

Yes! The phenomenon you describe has also been referred to as the "what the hell effect" by behavioral economist, Dan Ariely. Check out his research! It's also connected to our easily tired self-regulation "muscles." When we have to exert so much energy to regulate ourselves, the ability to effectively exhibit self-control decreases. Yikes! We can definitely recharge though, and all of your tips are a great way to take a break.

If I'm in a productivity rut, I like to write down a few tasks that can be easily accomplished and then I do them! It tricks me into thinking that my entire day has been productive, and that I'm on a roll!

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Anonymous

So, I love all these, but I work in a cube farm in a high traffic area, so I really don't have a place to do the "legs up the wall" or whatever. Sometimes I can take a break and get outside, but not always. Sadly, we also pretty much have to stay at our desks to do our work so the conference room thing is out… I know this sounds whiny, but any suggestions for when mobility and privacy are at an absolute minimum?

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Kelbar

Head /neck rolls….. sniffing lavender or eucalyptus oil (in tiny bottles) for relaxation/energizing…. Silly Putty….. 5-minute crossword or other puzzle… 5-minute cartoon/joke book look …. you can probably find more distractors/re-directors!
I'm a communications/positive psychology consultant; and some days, I need to use this stuff to help me work with people seeking positive change!

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StrayCat

Hi Anon, I have a similar situation. I have a special happy playlist on my phone for such situations, and also go and do squats and wall push-ups in the loo every now and then, or occasionally two minutes of meditation. Also, I take the long way round to the canteen/ vending machines when I need a moment to clear my head.

As far as I'm concerned, these things are essential to my productivity. They're not things I should have to apologise for.

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Catherine

Some great ideas here, will definitely be giving them a try! Never really done yoga before, but this pose just seems so simple and has so many potential benefits, will definitely be giving it a go! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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