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10 Activities For Days When You Just Don’t Feel Productive

Some days you’re just not feeling it. 
Some days it’ll take 4 x times as long to complete a task.
Some days you’ll wonder how you manage to even pay the bills with your current productivity rate.
Some days you’ll watch far too many cat GIFs.

It is an unwritten law of self-employment.

And when you find yourself there, you may wonder how last week you were able to smash through your to-do list in 3 hours flat yet today you can’t seem to get past the first task on your list.

I’ll admit there are days in the past four years where all I’ve managed to achieve is checking emails, watching a webinar I’m never going to implement and putting the dishwasher on.

I can’t give you some magic formula to suddenly bring back the productivity you so desperately crave right now. But, there are some activities that will help you get some sense of achievement and give you a fighting chance of improving your productivity rate tomorrow.


1. Get out!

Get a change of scenery as soon as possible. Stop fighting your lack of productivity and take a walk. Take your laptop to a coffee shop or find a co-working space nearby where you can set up shop and do the absolute essentials on your to-do list. Sitting in the same spot all day won’t help, trust me!

And if you’re a home-worker and aren’t productive for more than a few days in a row, it might be time to find business premises or office space.


2. Sort your receipts

Get on top of your expenses and sort your receipts. Your future self and your accountant will thank you for it. I put on some music or a film and spread it all out on the floor before sorting and filing.

Make your life even easier by installing an app like 1Tap receipts or upgrading to computerised bookkeeping software.


3. Research new blog post ideas

Don’t try and write a new post, but spend some time researching blog post topics. I check keywords in the Google Keyword Planner, look for inspiration on Pinterest and review any recent FAQs I could answer in a post.

Blogging is a great way to free publicity for your business. 


4. Get those files off your desktop

You know the ones. The screenshots from 3 months ago. The folders named “desktop” and “desktop 2” (or if you’re feeling passive-aggressive… “CLEAN ME UP!”). Get your files sorted into proper folders, clear the junk and empty your trash or recycling bin. It’s like a digital desk clean and can work wonders for productivity.

It’s impossible to be 100% productive, 100% of the time. We’re just not wired that way. But there are plenty of tasks you can capitalise on to make sure this time isn’t wasted. 

5. Clear your office space

Whilst we’re on the subject of tidying up… take a look at your desk. Is it in need of a spring clean? Sort your files and paperwork out, clear up anything that doesn’t need to be in sight and give everything a good wipe down. You’ll be doing your mind a favour as tidy desk = tidy mind but also saving yourself from potential illness… think of all those germs lingering on your keyboard and mouse. Yuk!

Want more organisation tips? Learn how to turn your office into a distraction-free zone.

6. Website housekeeping

We’re on an organisation roll, so let’s take a look at your website. When was the last time you updated it? Checked your plugins? Made sure all your links work and the copy is up-to-date? View your website with fresh eyes and pretend you’re a potential client viewing it – what needs to change? Oh, and whilst you’re at it – back it up!

No website? Find out how to set up a business website.

7. Check your analytics

I don’t know about you but I tend to put off checking my website analytics or social media stats if I can. But on unproductive days, it’s a good activity that takes little effort but can provide big rewards. Check what marketing channels are sending you the best traffic and what Facebook posts are getting the best engagement.

Not sure how to use analytics? We’ve got you covered.

8. Get inbox zero

Oh, the holy grail of the entrepreneur… an empty email box! If you’re really getting nowhere with your normal work, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as clearing out your emails and sorting into folders. You could even sign up to and get all those pesky subscription emails sorted now and in the future!

Here are some tips for clearing out your inbox and other essential to-dos.

9. Thank you notes/testimonial requests

An activity that will actually help you get more business is to write & send thank you notes to past clients and customers or reach out to them and ask for a testimonial. Not only will it get you back on their radar (repeat customers sometimes need prompting) but will help improve your word of mouth.

Find out how to increase your online sales with reviews.

10. Write a to-do list

Finally, if all else fails, brainstorm everything you need to get done but are failing miserably at today with your lack of productivity. Get it all out of your head and prioritise as:

  • Urgent
  • Not urgent
  • Can delegate
  • Can wait.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your to-do list down schedule your time better.

If all else fails, and you have no customers to attend to or premises to look after, take the rest of the day off. You’re much more likely to come back all guns blazing tomorrow if you just give yourself permission to be unproductive.

You had days like this when you were in employment, so don’t beat yourself up for it. The bonus? Whereas before you couldn’t just walk out the office and give up for the day, you’re the boss now and you can.

Just don’t make a habit of it!

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Jen Smith

Jen Smith is a freelance writer and content strategist. Follow her @_JenSmith

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