Recently, I’ve been asked this question: “My productivity has been shot the past two days. I am feeling pretty overwhelmed, alone, and depressed. What do you do when you are feeling this way?”
I answered this personally of course, and I thought, this is actually something which we all deal with from time to time, so I thought I would share my expanded thoughts here on my blog.
When I analyse what I do, I’ve found that it is actually a little strategy comprising of three things, which works best for me:
- Break the cycle
- Treat myself
- Review and take action
1 - Break the cycle
I expect I am little different from many others, in that the majority of my work is cerebral and I spend many hours glued to my computer, except when I am public traveling, speaking, coaching and mentoring. On the latter occasions I have the adrenaline of being ‘on’ and personal interaction, so I never experience problems of this sort on those occasions.
When I feel ‘stuck’ (demotivated/flat/tired/frustrated/overwhelmed), I break the cycle by doing something physical. If I am time poor, this may only be a few exercises or a break walking in my garden and getting some fresh air and sunshine. I know that I often forget to get up from my chair during the day, which contributes to feeling sluggish and mentally very tired.
I think the majority of us probably suffer from brain drain at the end of the day and feel exhausted mentally. In my case I feel the need to do something which gets the blood moving and which makes me feel physically tired. That’s when I get the best rest too. But sometimes there’s not the luxury of time to spend on the physical, and that can be a bit of a treat…
2 - Treat myself
Breaking the cycle in short bursts as I’ve just described is helpful, but it is a bit of a band-aid measure and I can’t expect great results from it in the long-term. For me it is really a treat to take that extra time out and I do it even if I have to schedule it in with the same determination of meeting a deadline.
I love nature and long scenic walks. This is also fantastic thinking time. You may have read my past blogs on some of my role models and how they schedule their thinking time. I also love a really nice cup of special tea and a great book in which I can immerse myself: it really works for switching off that over-active but flagging brain! Exercises are great too, and in winter I like to take a sauna which is fantastic for destressing and relaxing. So I would highly recommend fitting in some treats which you really enjoy and which break the work cycle for a good hour or more.
2 - Review and take action
At the end of my treat-time-out, I’m feeling much better equipped mentally and physically to dive back into work and tackle any issues which have been troubling me. Often a drop in productivity is symptomatic of some underlying problem or worry which I’ve been too distracted and busy to identify. My little strategy frequently helps me to identify such things when I am ready to review my work scenario and I feel energised and motivated again so I can take some real action.
Really, you have to figure out the reason why are you feeling down and then do something that brings you "back". This might be something similar to what works for me, or something totally different. Like eating a huge chocolate bar. Or playing some music. Dance. Laugh. Cry (sometimes we need that too!). Whatever it takes to make you feel better.
The key is NOT to do what made you feel down !
I’d be really interested to hear what mechanisms you use yourself which you find helpful at these times; how do you get past feeling in a funk?