How To Restart A Terrible, Horrible Day

Written by Sarah Von Bargen

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 running That Specific Hill, eating my Special Breakfast? ALL IS LOST.

I fall down an Instagram hole for an hour? I guess I'm not accomplishing anything today.

I find myself eating an enormous bowl of pasta for lunch? MIGHT AS WELL FOLLOW IT UP WITH THREE DONUTS.

I succumb to Newton's First Law more often than I’d like to admit. 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's very busy refreshing her email and wearing 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 it and abandon all hope of a good mood/accomplishing anything/wearing real clothes"?

I'm not having it. Let's make a pact to dig ourselves out of the suck when we get stuck. Here’s what I do when it's 2pm and I'm watching my seventh episode of Friends.

1. Get outside.

Even if it’s overcast. Even if it’s windy. The Swedes have a wise saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” So bundle up and take a brisk walk to clear your mind. Leave the podcasts and your phone at home and do your best to view this as a "walking meditation" — really notice the colors of the leaves and the smell of the flowers.

2. Put yourself in a new setting.

When I’m working in public, I’m usually too conscious of my neighbors to spend three hours clicking between social media sites. I want to appear busy and important! I'm very aware of the unspoken coffee shop agreement: if you bought a $3 coffee you get to hang out for an hour or two. I don't want to monopolize a table for six hours if I’m not going to buy anything else, so I actually work during my allotted time, absorbing the good vibes and productivity of those around me.

3. Try legs up the wall.

This yoga pose is white magic. 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. All you have to do is lie on your back and (you guessed it) prop your legs upward against a wall, so you make a big "L."

4. Give yourself an easy win.

When things aren’t going you’re way, give yourself an easy win. When you’re writing your to-do list, add a few easily accomplished things: “water plants,” “wash dishes,” “delete that one app.” You’ll feel productive and proud of yourself and it might just be the jump start you need!

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

If you're cranky because your office mate is too loud, go work in the conference room. If you're frustrated with yourself for nonstop snacking, get thee to a public library where there are no snacks. If your roommate is winding you up, get out of the house and go meet another friend.

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

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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