you weren’t productive today, and that’s more than okay

You can’t think, some days. You’re staring at your screen, and it’s been two hours, but nothing really sticks. You end up beating yourself up for an idea that never comes. It also feels like your self-worth has depreciated, because if you can’t do what you’re supposed to do, then what are you really doing?

When our livelihood depends on our brain power, we tend to forget that it’s another part of us that’s exhaustible. 

Here are some things you can do when that happens:

  1. Take a minute

    Focus intently on something that isn’t what you’re working on. You could let your mind go blank, but some of us are incapable of thinking about absolutely nothing. Try watching a 5-minute vine compilation on YouTube. Make a cup of tea, but really focus on making it. Switch off your wi-fi and play the google chrome t-rex game. Also is this really a self-help listicle if we don’t recommend just getting some good old fresh air? Sometimes a hot minute away is all you need to reboot your system.

  2. Use someone or something as a sounding board

    When we’re stuck on a problem or trying to come up with an idea, the solution either comes in a burst of light and inspiration, or swims around in our minds for hours on end. The latter is what usually happens. We run stale circles trying to figure it out, and make the same dead-end conclusions over and over again. 

    Just voicing out your thought process could break the loop that you’re stuck in; hearing the situation fleshed out in words gives the problem a new dimension. You could talk to the wall, but having a living person as a sound board is an added bonus and provides a fresh perspective.

  3. Write it down on paper

    Chances are you’re a digital worker, because who isn’t? What we’ve taken for granted is putting pen to paper and taking thrice as long to see a sentence materialise. When you take the time to write things out, your brain has more breathing space to think. It feels less like a high-speed chase and more of a stroll, also because the motion of writing itself is objectively calming. Typing, on the other hand, robs us of this luxury.   

  4. Remember that a life exists outside of being productive

    Maybe none of the above was enough. While in some ways our brain is like a muscle (cannot be overworked, needs recharging time), it’s also different in the sense that it’s fickle and unpredictable. Well then, your brain’s out of commission today.

Here’s some good news: it happens to the best of us. Your boss has shitty days. Those people you see in Forbes’s Top 20 with a seemingly never-ending supply of innovative genius have shitty days. Being productive every single day is overrated, don’t fall for it; we’re now proposing to normalise bad brain days.

    Not only is it healthier, but it’ll also make your productive days feel so much better.

(Cover photo by Pawel Nolbert on Unsplash)

rachel oh
communications executive

spare time spent consuming unhealthy amounts of fantasy literature and science documentaries


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