Whether you’re ill, tired, or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, sometimes you just don’t feel like attacking the day the way you normally do. But that doesn’t mean that obligations like your job, chores, and family responsibilities conveniently go on hold for you. (If only.) You still have to find a way to make it through the day—preferably while checking off all the necessary to-dos.
So how do you stay productive when all you want to do is crawl back under the covers? By taking a cue from your computer and going into “energy saver mode.”
Here are the key components of operating in energy saver mode to stay motivated:
1. Only take care of the most crucial tasks.
We’re a society that likes to Get Things Done, but when you’re not feeling up to par, you need to let go of the things on your to do list that aren’t critical to your life’s basic functioning.
Do you need to finish that big project that’s due today? Yes. Do you need to attend the birthday luncheon you know will only devolve into an hour of gossiping and inane reality TV show talk? No. Wish the birthday guy or girl a happy day, apologize for not being able to make it, and take your lunch break somewhere soothing (like your favorite coffee shop) so you can recharge.
Do you need to do the laundry so your family won’t go naked tomorrow? Yes. Do you need to iron all the wrinkly items so everyone has a full wardrobe to choose from? No. Let them choose from their easier-wear items and leave the more high-maintenance ones for another day.
In other words, decide what is really important for your day and what isn’t—and be okay with letting the unimportant things slide.
2. Allow yourself some lull time.
Computers in energy saver mode stay efficient by not running at full capacity 24-7. They go into screen saver mode, then sleep mode, keeping only the most basic processes running while letting everything else cool down for a bit.
The human body and mind are the same way. We can’t be “on” 24-7. If we are, we will quickly burn out and become sluggish, foggy, and frustrated. So allow yourself some time to “lull.” Take a 15-minute nap. Let yourself watch an episode of your favorite guilty pleasure reality show. Tell the dishes they can sit for a night and instead curl up with a good book for half an hour. Even a small pocket of “you” time can help you refresh and keep going.
Instead of rush, rush, rushing around like you normally do, allow yourself to do things at whatever speed you can muster. Don’t multitask. Don’t try to be a hero. (You can be one tomorrow.)
3. Put on your screen saver.
Screen savers—be they cutesy kitties or clichéd beach scenes—say “someone is working here; he just left for a minute but he’ll be right back.” If your boss comes by and sees your screen dark, he’ll wonder if you came in that day. If he sees kittens in baskets floating by, he’ll figure you just stepped away to get some coffee. (You could actually be taking that 15-minute nap in the utility closet, but he doesn’t need to know that.)
Similarly, getting through a day you don’t feel like getting through requires a bit of a “Yep, I’m here!” poker face. You can’t let your inner blahs translate to outer grumpiness, or you’ll just feel worse and have more trouble navigating the day. So learn to disconnect from your feelings, put on a mild smile, and give the “I’m here (but not 100%, please forgive me)” vibe.
Don’t engage with the people who normally frustrate you. Give short and sweet answers to people instead of launching into full-on conversations. Don’t try mustering up loads of enthusiasm and cheer you don’t have. Just be responsive enough that your screen doesn’t go blank. If anyone wonders why you’re not being your usual perky self, just tell them you’re a bit tired today. They’ll understand. (They may have their own screen savers on, for all you know.)
Featured photo credit: Mixed Race Young Female via Shutterstock