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  • Destenie Nock

How to recover from a Wasted Day

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

We all have unproductive days, but what should we do when the stress of projects is looming over us, and we can't find the motivation to get work done? Short answer: you have to invest in yourself.

February 7, 2019 By Destenie Nock


You glance up at the clock on the wall and realize that it is close to dinner time and you spent the last 3 hours diving down Wikipedia rabbit holes. That 3 hours down the drain means you haven't made any progress on your big project. Upon realizing the work day is almost over you have three options:

  1. Get upset with yourself for wasting so much of your precious time, and spend the next hour upset and looking for Facebook videos to make you laugh.

  2. Get upset with yourself for wasting so much of your precious time, have a minor freak out, and spend the next hour forcing yourself to stay at your desk trying to make up for all of the lost time.

  3. Accept that you lost the time, step back from your desk and take 30 minutes to get out of the office and do something you love (i.e. gym, eat dinner with family/friends, go for a walk, etc). After you have spent 30 minutes investing in yourself then come back to work with a clearer mind.

We all have our unproductive days, but the difference is how we make up for the lost time. It took me a while to accept that sometimes in a day all I will manage to do is get into the office and read two papers. This feels like nothing compared to other days when I am more on my game and manage to finish a computer code, or add a page to my PhD dissertation.

If you feel overwhelmed and find yourself trying to find any excuse not to work just remember that "success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out." There is no point in beating yourself about about all of the work that you haven't done. Instead you have to focus on what you can do. Take the big task, (i.e. writing your dissertation) and break that down into little tasks (i.e. work on introduction, add in references, make one graph and explain it).

Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier

Sometimes we are so focused on everything we did not accomplish that we forget to step back and take the time to reset. Taking a step back can help us get our mind straight and give us a fresh set of eyes to reexamine the situation.

For those that need a visual please refer to the very conveniently placed flow chart below.

wasted day motivation to become more productive
Follow this algorithm for your wasted day recovery.

So to recover from a wasted day my advice to you is to not beat yourself up about it, and focus on small things you can do in the future to be more productive. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. Besides the only day which is wasted is one where you have not invested in yourself. Each day I try to do one thing that invests in my well-being. Some examples of this are:

  • Do not get the candy an apple instead (physical health is important for mental health)

  • Go for a walk (any exercise counts towards physical health)

  • Work on my dissertation (investing in my career will make Future Me happier)

  • Talk to a friend (the people we keep around us are what makes life worth living, and a social life is great for sanity)

No day is wasted when you're taking care of yourself! -Shay

Hopefully you find small ways to invest in yourself each and everyday. Do not skip on investing in yourself because if you don't no one else will. No day is wasted when you're taking care of yourself! Good luck on having less wasted and more positive days in the future. Thanks for reading! If you like this blog post please consider subscribing below so that you never miss an update.

Note about the Author: Destenie Nock holds is a currently a PhD Candidate in Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As an industrial engineer her primary job is optimizing things and trying to find the most efficient way to do more things in less time, while not compromising on quality. Sometimes she fears that this is seeping into her personal life, because she finds herself trying to reach her optimum level of success. In her free time she likes cooking with friends, painting, and playing tennis. She also holds two BS degrees from North Carolina A&T State University.

#Life #PhDingIt #MentalHealth #STEMPhD #PhDLife

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