How to Stay Productive When You’re Stressed

"It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe."
~ Robert W. Service

You’ve tried everything to stay on top of your work. From writing out your entire schedule to sticking sticky notes over your bed. None of these tricks that used to work for you work anymore.

This is why I’m sharing with you the activities that genuinely help me, every day, to accomplish the goals I set out to do. 


1. Write a To-Do List (or Three)

Grab a notebook or sheet of paper and write out every single thing you want to accomplish today. Make multiple lists for different days of the week or for different purposes, if it helps.

I have multiple lists of tasks to accomplish over the course of the summer, in various notebooks and sticky notes.

Think of simple tasks that you know you can accomplish today, like brushing your teeth or reading for half an hour. Then list more complex goals that will take some time. 

Having a list to check off as I reach my goals helps me feel accomplished, and motivates me to move onto the next task.

You may not get everything done the day you plan to, and that’s okay. Goals are adjustable, and should be adaptable to your needs.

2. Create a Playlist

Listening to music always energizes me, motivating me to sit for hours and type. I have playlists for all of my moods and for my usual routine.

Why not create one of your own? Jamming to your favorite soundtrack and artists can boost your morale and make any chore enjoyable. 

If you can’t focus with spoken music, try instrumental songs. Check out my post on the best music for writers to get you started!

3. Clean Your Space

Take some time to clean your space, maybe even rearrange furniture or decorations. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed.

I get all of my work done in my bedroom, and if I let it get too messy I end up slacking off. Clutter only stresses me out. 

Since we’re spending so much indoors, the spaces that used to help you relax after work or classes simply annoy you.

The same scenery over and over, every day, for weeks at a time can irritate anyone. Some people are able to work in stagnate spaces, but I am not one of those people.

Wipe down your desks, switch out your pens, and do anything else you need to, to create the best environment for your work.

4. Set a Timer (or a Few)

During the school year, I always set my timers to keep me on track. Once I start a task, I won’t do anything else until time is up.

If you struggle with staying focused, having a set limit on how long you will spend on your work can help keep you maintain your attention. This also helps you manage the much-needed breaks you will be taking.

5. Take Breaks

Avoiding burnout should be your number one priority, especially if you’re a perfectionist. There are days when I write all day, and days where I just want to watch TV.

If you push yourself too hard for too long, eventually you won’t be able to handle even the simplest of tasks. Sometimes your anxiety may build up, in anticipation of a stressful event. This is when taking breaks can prove very beneficial.

Jump in and start that stressful task, with the knowledge that you’ll take a short break after half an hour. You can focus on doing what you can until time is up. 

Breaks are a great way to recharge. You can spend an hour on chores, an hour getting work done, and another hour playing video games.

During a “proper” work day, you may hesitate to even sit and eat lunch away from your computer.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Take that lunch break, and maybe even eat breakfast the next day. Every hour you can check social media for 20 minutes or so, or take a stroll around the block.

Conclusion and Recommended Posts

I hope you find these tips helpful and are able to overcome the obstacles that comes your way. You will make it through! This too shall pass! Also, make sure to take the time to reflect on the cause of your decreased productivity. When it comes to procrastination the root is often stress and anxiety. 

Taking action to manage your stress and anxiety is just as important as the points mentioned above.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on self-care and mental health you will love these posts:

  • How to Practice Self-Care as a College Student
  • How to Start Your Self-Love Journey
  • I Made Self-Care a Priority as a College Senior

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