How To Have A Productive Day When You Just Aren't In The Mood

Just about no one feels like going to work every day, even when you love what you do. Sometimes you just want a day off. When you work at home that’s often possible, but it’s not always a good idea if you’re serious about earning a living. How can you push yourself to have a productive work at home day when you’re really not in the mood to work?

Consider the cause.

Why is it that you aren’t in the mood to work? What’s making it so hard to have a productive work at home day?

There can be a lot of reasons why you just aren’t in the mood to work on certain days. You might be tired from staying up late from a sick child. You might be sick yourself. Maybe you’re having a frustrating time with your current project. Or it could be that it’s such a beautiful day that you’d rather be doing other things.

Another reason why you might be procrastinating is because you don’t really want to work on what you ought to that day. Maybe it’s something new and you’re nervous about how it will go. Maybe it’s a part of your job or business you don’t really enjoy.

Whatever the reason, acknowledging why you aren’t in the mood to work on a particular day can help you get past the problem. It can start you on the path to more productive thinking, so long as you don’t start dwelling on the negative side of things.

Once you know why you don’t want to work, remind yourself of why you do what to work. What do you expect to get out of the work you do today?

What about depression?

If you have a constant issue with motivation to get things done, you may also want to consider whether you’re suffering from depression or other issues that you should discuss with your doctor. Anyone can have these issues, and it’s important to get help for yourself if you need it.

It took me a long time to get to where I could talk to my doctor about my anxiety and depression, and it did not go well the first time. He just told me to get more exercise. Sure, exercise can help with mood to an extent, but it’s not a solution for depression. It was like a slap in the face to be dismissed so offhand on an issue that I had struggled to bring up.

My new doctor is much better and is working with me on figuring out what will help.

unproductive day

Do a quick work out.

While exercise won’t take care of the problem if you’re clinically depressed, it can help if all you need is to get moving.

A quick walk around the block or a bit of time on any exercise equipment you may own (I have a Total Gym that has come in handy at times) can improve your mood. A bit of exercise can satisfy that need to feel as though you’re procrastinating, yet make you more productive in the long run.

Take days off regularly.

Don’t try to work seven days a week, every week. There may be times that this is necessary, but it shouldn’t be your life. Take time off every week, especially when you can do things with your family.

Time off is important. Your brain needs to rest. You need to have fun and stay connected with your family.

Write a to do list.

A to do list can help you quite a bit when you aren’t quite in the mood to work. Use it to guide your day’s work, so you have no doubt about what you most need to get done that day.

Break big tasks into smaller ones to make it easier to check things off. It’s easier to be productive you if continue to see that you’ve made progress. If a task is too big, you may not feel like you’re getting enough done when in fact you’ve done quite a bit.

This can be especially helpful with unpleasant or difficult tasks that you’ve been avoiding. Rather than staring at a huge chunk of “I hate doing that,” you see the steps necessary to get the task done.

to do list

Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks from work is something you should do even when you are in the mood to work. There are good reasons why employers are required to give breaks, after all. A break refreshes your mind, and you may get more done with breaks than you would without breaks.

A break should be something more than continuing to sit at your computer. Get up. Do something entirely different from what you’ve been doing. Have some fun.

The Pomodoro technique is one method I’ve mentioned in the past. You set a timer for 25 minutes or however long you want the chunk to be, work that entire time, then take a 5 minute break. It’s a great help when you’re struggling to find the time to work at home, as it breaks things down into chunks you can deal with.

Tell someone else what you plan to get done today.

Sometimes internal motivation just isn’t enough. You need to have an external push to get things going. Tell a friend or family member what you’re going to get done, post your goal on your Facebook wall, or otherwise tell someone what you’re going to get done today.

Knowing that others expect you to reach a particular goal can give you that extra push. Who wants to explain why you didn’t reach that goal you shared? Just don’t waste too much of the day updating people on your progress.

It can be helpful to have an accountability partner. Your spouse may be able to help, or you can ask a friend to help keep you on track. If they also work at home, you can help them be more productive too.

Start with a small job.

What’s one of the little things you need to get done, something not all that overwhelming? Maybe just a 5-15 minute job. If you’re having trouble getting in the mood for work in general, it may help to do some small thing, insignificant in itself, that will get you to do any work at all.

It’s often easier to keep working once you have started working. You’re past that mental “I don’t want to” block.

productive work at home

Remind yourself why you’re working at home.

Sure, you know why you’re working at home, but do you really think about that reason or just take it for granted? Inspire yourself by thinking about why you do what you do.

Are you home for your kids or to care for an aging parent? Maybe it’s because the opportunity fell into your lap and you went for it. Possibly you work at home because it’s better than dealing with people face to face all the time.

We all have our reasons for working at home. Keep them in mind when it’s hard to be motivated.

Consider a change of scenery.

Sometimes it’s hard to get in the mood to work at home because you’re tired of staring at the same walls every day. Maybe you’re tired of being alone at work.

If your work permits, consider a change of scenery. Anything from working in a different room to the yard or even at a coffee shop or coworking space can help.

Don’t worry about motivation – just get to work!

Feeling motivated to work is all well and good, but sometimes it’s irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is that you get to work. You can grumble to yourself about how little you want to be doing things so long as they still get done.

You are the only thing that is stopping you when you say you don’t feel like working. There’s nothing and no one holding you back. If you can get past yourself, you can accomplish a lot.

I know it’s not always that simple, or at least it doesn’t feel that way. And yet, that’s what many people have to do when they work outside the home and work where their boss can see them. Mood doesn’t matter. You get things done because that’s your job.