How to get productive when you’re stuck

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk


Confession: My to-do list is a mile long and I’ve done nothing concretely productive in the last few hours.

There was a lot of phone calls, emails, Twitter browsing, and looking over my to-do list, but it’s not far from the truth to say I wasted a bunch of time. I hate this feeling. If you’ve had it you know what I mean. So this blog post is part of my strategy for dealing with it. Because the way I see it, I could either call this a day (which I think would be a mistake, although not always, just today) or try to get some stuff done and quick.

Starting as soon as I hit publish, here’s my plan for coming out of the productivity rut:

  • Turn off my Wi-Fi. It’s maybe the oldest trick in the book but I rarely make myself do it. Without email, Twitter, Facebook, NY Times and other distractions, I know I will get more done. Or at least something done.
  • Take a tea break. I think there needs to be a physical reset from wasting time to being productive. Since I can’t change where I am right now I am going to take a mini break and make some tea. And drink it.
  • Put away my to-do list. It’s sitting here and scaring me. Truly. I know a ton of stuff I need to do and don’t need to be reminded right this second.
  • Get something done right this very second. I’m going to cheat a little and say that writing this blog post is a to-do that I’m getting done. It is, of course, but I’m only going to count it half way. So as soon as I’m done I am diving into the world of spreadsheets because one of my unpleasant-but-must-get-done to-dos is hiding in there.

OK, wish me luck. More importantly, share your tips for climbing out of a productivity rut in the comments!

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2 comments so far...

  • I agree that you need to take a break to regroup. Time management is one of the hardest things for me to master. Since I work from home, it is very tempting to put things off. What I have learned that helps me is def. turn the computer off. Crank up some tunes. It lifts my mood, helps me stay on task.. Hope this helps. God bless

    Susie  |  April 2nd, 2012 at 11:03 am

  • I often feel very overwhelmed with work, kids, husband and keeping up my house. I just float form room to room feeling hopeless. So today I went from room to room and took a picture of each mess I need to tend to. Each day, I’ll pick a picture and clean it up. Sometimes I just have to start with the basics and make it fun or I’ll just leave the house. And close the door to the mess.

    Katie  |  May 20th, 2012 at 12:57 pm