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6 Ways to Stay Productive When You’re Feeling Low

It can be hard to stay focused and productive at the best of times. But when you’re feeling low – whether that’s physically or emotionally – then it can seem almost impossible to concentrate.

Maybe you have a daunting number of things to get done … but you can’t seem to summon up the energy to tackle any of them. You might end up doing something totally counter-productive: procrastinating, or tackling the easy, unimportant tasks, or even driving yourself to tears.

Here’s how to keep yourself on track:

#1: Make a List of Tasks

This is a classic time-management technique … because it really works.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down and write a clear list of tasks. What do you need to do today? What could you put off for a few days if necessary?

The act of writing down the list means that:

  • You’ll get clarity. Instead of thinking “I must do something about Project X” you’ll have a clear action step like “Phone John about Project X”.
  • You won’t worry about forgetting to do things.
  • You can see what really has to be done – and it’s usually not so bad as you imagined!
  • You’ll be able to check off each item as you complete it, which can be very satisfying.

#2: Take a Real Break

When you’re feeling low or struggling with your work, it’s tempting to take a break and surf the net or zone out in front of the television. You might feel bad about being “unproductive” – and end up trying to force yourself to do chores.

If you need a break, then take one – and make it something truly recharging. Grab a shower, take a long bath, or even have a nap. Give yourself a real break from what you’re working on, and you’ll find your motivation returning.

#3: Avoid Dwelling on Negative Thoughts

Have you ever started feeling a bit down … and ended up making yourself more and more unhappy? It’s all too easy to get trapped in a spiral of negative thoughts.

If you catch yourself thinking something negative, like “I’m so stupid – how could I have made such a dumb mistake?” or “I’m really bad at managing my time” then stop. Look at your task list and pick something to focus on. Start working steadily through it, and you’ll find that those upsetting thoughts fade away.

#4: Find Something to Look Forward To

When life seems like all work and no play, it’s easy to feel down. Plan a treat for yourself, maybe next weekend. You might:

  • Book tickets to see a movie
  • Arrange to meet up with a friend for coffee
  • Pick a “date night” to spend with your partner

On a day-to-day basis, you can find things to look forward to as well. This might be as simple as watching an episode of your favorite television program in the evening, or buying a novel that you’ve been meaning to read.


#5: Play Some Music

Sometimes, small tweaks can make a big difference. If you’re ploughing through a mundane task – like answering emails or doing the dishes – then put on some great music.

Fast, energetic tracks can boost your energy levels and help you work faster; slower, more contemplative tracks are great if you want to feel calm and relaxed.

#6: Take Care of Your Health

Finally, however busy you are, it’s important to find time for your health. If you’re feeling physically and/or emotionally low, you can often pick yourself up by:

  • Getting enough sleep – most people need at least seven hours.
  • Eating sensibly – don’t go for hours between means, and avoid high-sugar snacks that play havoc with your energy levels.
  • Exercising regularly – this not only helps you stay fit and manage your weight, it’s also great for your mental health.


Have you been feeling low recently? Are any of the above tips helpful for you – or do you have your own ideas to add? The comments are open…

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18 Responses to 6 Ways to Stay Productive When You’re Feeling Low

  1. 7des7iny says:

    #2: Take a Real Break and #5: Play Some Music helps.
    And sleeping seems to really do the trick perfectly.

    I know there are some people who would go run in the stadium or scream at the ocean too to help them get that pep up again.

  2. Clint Cora says:

    The tips presented here are great and I totally endorse them. One thing that I also do which is related to taking much needed breaks is spend time with my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie who take my mind off pretty well anything that I was preoccupied with. That’s the magic of pets as they can take you to another place both physically and mentally. Thanks for these important tips as we all need them during our busy lifestyles.

  3. The Vizier says:

    Hi Ali,

    It is indeed difficult to stay productive when you are feeling low. During such times, there is nothing better than curling up into a ball and sleeping the day away. We don’t have the strength to deal with any problems, neither do we want to face or think about them. That said, I love the suggestions that you have put together to deal with such a situation.

    In particular, I think that making a list of tasks is helpful. By having a list, we can easily pick out the really simple ones to get out of the way. Even if we are nowhere near 100%, it is possible to get the minor things done so that we can deal with the other issues when we feel better.

    Taking a real break and finding something forward to look to is also very helpful. Whenever I feel down, I always like to play my favourite PC games to get my mind of matters. This helps me to relax so that I can come back recharged to deal with the matters at hand.

    Finally, I just want to add that it is important to remember that our moods are ever changing. Even if we feel low, we need to remind ourselves that this feeling will not last forever. It is within our power to change it and even if we cannot do so immediately, the feeling will pass eventually. Naturally, it helps to focus on the solution to the cause of whatever is making us feel low. Doing so will help us to regain our enthusiasm soon enough.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  4. 7. Read

  5. Dont isolate oneself from family,friend,and significant other that you highly regard as playing a major role in your life. to enhance your ability and person to become all that you were destine to be by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit while loving and serving humanity.

  6. Hey Ali,

    Good tips. I think your tip about not dwelling in negative thoughts is key! Once we go into that mind set, it is very difficult to get out. Putting a stop to those thoughts before you dive in too deep is really important.

  7. JoanaBG says:

    thanks for your advice, it has truly helped me!

  8. Hey Ali,
    For me it always comes to not getting enough rest and relaxation. Eventually I get the message from my body and I may spend a half a day to a whole day doing nothing.

  9. Al Pittampalli says:

    Writing down all your tasks is so underrated. It can instantly make your to do list feel manageable, because it’s no longer occupying the space in your mind. Good list, Ali.

  10. hitanjan says:

    thanks for your advice,now i am going in this situation so your suggestion has helped me.

  11. rewa says:

    don’t listen to sad-mellow songs while you are feeling low.. i’ve never helps,instead listen to peppy songs .. and this topic really helped me thanks a lot for sharing :)

  12. Jeree says:

    My work is usually mental rather than physical, so on days when I just can’t function I tackle all the household chores, make lists and do all the ‘boring’ and less creative jobs. That way, when I’m back on form all those things are out of the way and I can concentrate on what’s important. Also I don’t feel as if I’ve wasted a whole day.
    I wish I could follow your idea of having a real rest when I feel low, but I feel so guilty if I’m not doing something practical. Just sitting down feels sinful!

  13. Pingback: Cómo ser productivo cuándo estás deprimido (I): Enlista y Descansa | Blog Empresarios

  14. Gopal says:

    The above tips are great.  I would also say stop interacting with Negative people who make you Dwell on the negative aspects on your life.  They may highlight their problems or may highlight your problems.  Both are dangerous so stay away from these toxic people.

  15. Geeta Thane says:

    loved it!

  16. JAMAL says:


  17. Saba Shah says:

    This ^ one in particular is important to me in my life at the monent. I feel like all the progress I make my taking care of my health, taking a real break, and so on, mentioned in this good list, crumbles in the face of the entering the presence of the negative/toxic person I live with, so for me spending time away, and hopefully soon permanently living away, from the negative person allows me to keep building the positive taking care of taking care of my health, not dwelling on negative thoughts, and taking breaks, actions.

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