What to Do When You Had an Unproductive Week

Itxy Lopez


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

You planned a week filled with work. You were going to be productive. But Monday came, and you ended your day by wishing you could have a do-over.

Throughout the rest of the week, you didn’t achieve much. It’s as if you’d had no plan at all. You had a couple of productive hours here and there, but mostly, you don’t know where your week went.

Your productive schedule turned into a guilt-filled vacation. And you know what? That’s okay.

Sometimes, your days won’t go according to plan. You’re human. Laziness is a part of the deal.

What’s not okay is if you keep this shit up. If you feel guilty because you weren’t productive, the only solution is to try again. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try to be better — especially if growth is what you desire.

Don’t give yourself crap

When you make a promise to yourself and don’t follow through, it’s easy to bully yourself. (And boy, can we be incredibly harsh toward ourselves.)

Whatever regret, disappointment, or anger you feel, let it go. There’s no point in simmering in those feelings until you boil.

Take a deep breath and forgive yourself. Own up to your laziness and shitty week. You can’t go back and change the past. You only have this moment and the days ahead. You can do something about those.

Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. — Oprah Winfrey

Whenever I feel myself getting angry, I remind myself that I still have the opportunity to make things great again. Be better tomorrow. I say it so much it’s practically a motto.

You still have this week available to you. Make it the best you can.

Why weren’t you productive?

The reason I’m writing this is that I had an unproductive week. I wrote a couple of articles and whatnot, but I could’ve done more. (I don’t say that in a productivity-obsessed way.)

My week went off plan because I was stressed about personal problems. Worrying too much made it difficult to focus on my work. I was exhausted and kept waking up late, which threw my entire schedule off balance.

There’s always a deeper reason why you aren’t productive. No one is lazy for no reason (unless you’re genuinely tired).

Why didn’t your week go as planned? Find your problem so that you can find a solution.

For example, I know to go to sleep at eleven so that I’m well-rested and can wake up at seven without a problem.

Perhaps your issue was that you overestimated how much work you could complete in a week. You assigned too many tasks, which made you feel overwhelmed. Your stress made you ignore your work rather than tackling it. Your solution would be to give yourself less work this week.

Maybe you did get a lot of work done, but it wasn’t the work that mattered. You would resolve to start with challenging tasks and then move to the busywork.

So, think back to last week. Why weren’t you productive. How can you be better this week?

Get clear on what you need to complete

The best way to start your week after an unproductive one is to get clear on how you want the next week to look.

I don’t like to jump in and try to get as much work done as possible. You want to ease yourself in, while still accomplishing something that’ll make you feel proud.

My goals are:

  1. Publish an article every day
  2. Finish and create emails with a new lead magnet
  3. Finish the first two chapters of my book

Those are my top priorities. Any other tasks, such as reading or social media, are what I’ll work on after those items.

You want to go into your week, ready to be productive and clear on what you need to achieve. This will clear the fog and help you concentrate on what matters. When you know what action steps you need to take, it enables you to move.

Set your three goals right now. These are the tasks you’re going to work on first every day to ensure you complete them by the end of the week.

Don’t worry about what doesn’t matter

That’s the key to this. You can’t worry about anything outside of your goal unless you absolutely must.

For example, I have a goal to read 52 books this year. I’m three books ahead of schedule, which means that technically, this week, I don’t need to read as much as usual.

I’m still going to read, of course — it just can’t be my number one priority. I can’t sleep half an hour later than I should or ignore my promises of work because I’m caught up in a book.

“The moment I let myself get overwhelmed, it all becomes more stressful. It helps to ask, ‘What’s the worst thing that happens if I don’t answer this email?’ I have a schedule. I go, ‘It’s 7 p.m. — I did everything I could today.’ You need a life separate from work.” — Tavi Gevinson

If you stress about what doesn’t matter, you’re going to end up right back where you started. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Angry.

Don’t worry about the busywork. Keep your goals in mind, and work on those first.

Planning will get you nowhere

Planning and setting goals is only half of the work. What matters is actually doing.

Action is the foundational key to all success. — Picasso

Anyone can plan a productive week, but not everyone will have a productive week.

For the next seven days, commit yourself to do the best you can. Don’t worry about the weeks after — only these next seven days. Promise yourself you’ll give it your all.

Maybe this sounds childish, but when you dare yourself to strive for greatness, you’ll do everything in your power to not let yourself down.

There’s power in deciding that you’re going to kick ass this week.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” — Bruce Lee

For the next seven days, don’t snooze your alarm. Get up as soon as it rings. Don’t worry about how you’re feeling — start working when you said you would. Choose to do.

End the month with a bang.

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