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Mental Sampler 4

I am someone who verbally beats myself up when I have an unproductive day and glows when I’ve managed to pound through a lot of work.  Perhaps I should look into not having my self-esteem tied to how much I perceive I’ve accomplished, but barring that, I was deeply interested in Lifehacker’s advice on how to get over an unproductive day.

I think my favourite idea on the list was sending myself to bed early and waking the next day early.  Though I will say that I use coffee as a productivity anchor.  I better have accomplished something substantial before I pour myself the final half-cup.  It’s like I need to hold that last bit of coffee partially out-of-reach so I’ll work hard to get it.

I’m a bit like a trained lab rat that way.

How do you get over an unproductive day?


WOFE is a new portmanteau I just learned for the merging of work and life into one amorphous blob of time.  In other words, instead of designating the hours between X and Y to be dedicated to work, and designating the hours between Y and X to be dedicated to home life, the two have bled into one another so that we bring home life into the work day (such as pumping breast milk during work) and we bring work life into the home (answering emails after dinner).

I have no work-life divide because I work out of the house.  I mean, I could.  I could set firm boundaries, but I don’t really mind everything mixing together like a salad.  I like having the flexibility during the day to go volunteer at the twins’ school.  And if I want that, I have to also not mind that work sometimes pops up at 11 pm and needs to be completed before I go to sleep.  That last scenario is rare, but it does happen several times a year.  More often it is simply working after the twins have gone to bed, or dragging a laptop on vacation and taking care of a few tasks at the beginning of each day.

But this was the part of the piece that made me tired:

The need to stay constantly connected is rapidly on the rise, as individuals not only run the risk of losing business, but also need to maintain the working relationships they’ve formed … Work hours are creeping well past conventional daytime hours along with other activities such as eating, cleaning, socializing and taking care of the kids which are all intertwined, often quite seamlessly. When was the last time you went out for lunch without checking your phone at least a few times during the meal?

Uh… a long time?

When was the last time you went out (at any time — morning, lunch, late at night) without checking your phone at least once?


1 Queenie { 05.13.15 at 8:00 am }

I regularly leave my phone at home when I am spending time with the kids outside the house. It’s really freeing.

2 jodifur { 05.13.15 at 8:02 am }

Sometimes when we go out as a family I leave my phone locked in the car. This stops me from checking it, I’m with my husband and son so I know there is not an emergency with them, and if anyone in my family had an emergency they would try me and then try my husband. It is very freeing.

3 a { 05.13.15 at 8:08 am }

I check my phone frequently, but it’s never for work. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t even bother calling me any more, since they know I probably won’t answer. I also don’t give my phone number out to other agencies like many of my coworkers do. Work and life are very separate for me.

I never have unproductive days (or they’re usually unproductive?) – because I generally accomplish what I mean to accomplish. But I don’t set very high standards either. I see no reason to set impossible goals so I can feel bad if I don’t reach them. I am pretty self aware when it comes to when and how much I am willing to work.

4 nicoleandmaggie { 05.13.15 at 8:12 am }

Promising myself I will go to bed early and get up early the next day to make up *never works*. All it seems to do is make me more likely to be unproductive on that day because I’m sure I’ll make it up that night, the next day, or on the weekend. But I never do.

5 loribeth { 05.13.15 at 9:41 am }

I don’t have a smartphone, the one I have is rarely on, and I don’t text, so I am not in the habit of “checking my phone” (and thank goodness for that). But — my laptop is on almost all day when I’m at home, & even if I’m not actually using it, I pick it up and check my email & usual sites frequently for updates. :p

6 Jenn { 05.13.15 at 12:44 pm }

There is a dry erase board in the kitchen and I write a ton of lists on it. Everyday I have a to-do list and add to it as I go. If I feel like I didn’t do much that day then I look at it and see what I did do. Maybe I can sneak one more thing in before bed. Then I start my list for the next day as I think of things.

7 Courtney { 05.13.15 at 1:20 pm }

Well yesterday was unproductive post-work because my husband and I are contemplating a major move and I became really overwhelmed – I went to bed and watched snippets of Key and Peele on my ipad – not ideal but I felt better this morning. I also ate the rest of the coffee ice cream. BUT! I am getting better about not taking my phone with me everywhere – especially my work phone. I’ll always check it on the weekend and in the evenings but I try and leave it on our phone table so it doesn’t go with us to the park, the library, etc. It’s hard but I’m getting pretty good at it!

8 Ana { 05.13.15 at 1:46 pm }

I often leave my phone at home if I’m out at the park or something with the kids on weekends…only because many of my clothes don’t have usable pockets (a tool of the patriarchy) and I try really hard not to check my phone when I’m having a meal with someone. I’m probably a middle-of-the-road phone addict—I know many worse than me (my husband! I can’t even talk to him at dinner!) but I could also do better myself.
Going to bed early and getting up early actually does work for me—but only if I’m really tired and that’s why I can’t focus. If I’m just being lazy or really dislike the task, its better to just do it then & there.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.13.15 at 3:38 pm }

Ha! I had to take a state exam 2 weeks ago and was without my phone for about 3 hours. You can bet that I checked it as soon as I had it back in hand.

(Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to answer your question.)

How do I get over an unproductive day? Tell myself that feeling bad won’t help me catch up; it will set me further behind. And then I won’t be able to check things off the list. I love to check things off the list.

10 Rachel { 05.14.15 at 9:28 am }

I don’t buy the whole work/life separation thing. I mean, I do believe you need to have balance between the two but I don’t think it’s a work/ life balance needed – it’s a stress/fun balance – and that doesn’t always mean work vs. life. For some people, it’s the life that’s the stressful part – and this equation never seems to consider that some people genuinely love and are rewarded at their jobs, and some do not have a rewarding or fun home life.

Spending time with my parents/siblings/nephews – which we do a lot – is usually stressful for me. Their view of success is parenthood and I just can’t achieve that yet. Everything we do is surrounding the boys (who I love dearly) but it is a constant reminder that I don’t have children. So family time for me is a lot more stress than it is fun.

Work is fun. I love my job – and while there is certainly stress involved, I am good at what I do and it’s extremely rewarding. I get a lot more enjoyment out of work than I do out of family time so checking my emails at 7 pm after a chaotic family dinner is sometimes my only chance to regroup and do something I’m good at, in the midst of an event that only reminds me of my failures.

So I don’t buy the work vs. life thing, I buy the stress vs. fun thing though and I make sure to have a balance of the two in my life at all times – even if it means checking my phone during dinner – and I don’t think any one needs to apologize for taking the escapes where they can as long as no one else is suffering for it! 🙂

Unproductive Day? I go to the gym that evening – even if it’s not a regular workout day. Then I feel like I’ve at least accomplished something! LOL.

11 illustr8d { 05.14.15 at 12:26 pm }

I’ve been researching routines (am & pm) to see if there’s a way to put a routine that works for me in to my life. (Post about it in the future.)

12 Mali { 05.15.15 at 10:30 pm }

If you’re looking at your phone over lunch when you’re on your own, then that’s fine. Not though if you’re having lunch with me! lol One of the joys of travelling is being completely unplugged at specific times. When you have no choice, then it is nice to simply relax and enjoy. You’ve given me an idea about a post … (though maybe after I’ve finished #NaBloPoMo).

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