9 Foolproof Tips for Being Productive when Your Brain Is Saying “No”

Unless you live in one of those paradises where it is warm and sunny year-round, the seasons are changing. Because of this, we must deal with the misery of our bodies telling us it’s time to hibernate and modern society making it clear that we have to be productive all 12 months out of the year. So, what is the key to being productive when your brain is fighting you? Here are nine brilliant tips:


I’m not talking about running a marathon. That’s too exhausting, time-consuming, and boring. Instead, consider doing a couple sets of push-ups, going for a short walk around the block, tossing the ol’ pigskin around, or hop on your rower. Exercise gets your blood flowing throughout your body, including your brain, and it’ll release endorphins, which will make you feel more energetic.

Ban Smartphones, Emails, and Social Media

If you’re still at your computer, and I haven’t tricked you into exercising, you might consider becoming more productive by ignoring your phone, emails, and social media. All three of these are notorious time-suckers that will sap your focus. Instead of keeping tabs on everything, force yourself to complete a certain amount of work before you can check your communications.

Don’t Multitask

This is kind of hand-in-hand with the above tip. When you multitask, you are basically doing a terrible job at several things at once. You will get more done and do a better job when you focus on one task at a time. For instance, somedays I just focus on remaining upright. If you feel drawn to other tasks, write them down on a notepad nearby, and come back to them when you’re done with your current project.

Create a Plan of Attack

Each morning, I create my agenda for the day. I put the tasks that will require the most brain power at the top of the agenda because I know I start to trail off as the day wears on. At the bottom of my list, I have “removing each cat hair from my shirt” since that’s usually all I’m capable of in the late afternoon. Anyway, save your toughest tasks for your more high-powered times of the day. Just be sure you have a plan.

Work on Easy Stuff

If I’m hungover or my brain is just going *ka-chunk ka-chunk ka-chunk*, I focus on the work that has to get done that day. I then start working on tasks that are easy or fun. For instance, I might create some hilarious picture word things (memes.) The perfect time to do mindless tasks is when your mind isn’t working.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Procrastination and laziness are the enemies of being productive. Fortunately, you can beat them into submission by charging ahead and doing your work even when you don’t feel like it. The temptation is always there to give up on the day, but you probably won’t feel that way later. So, chug ahead. Your brain will get on board eventually.

Change Your Internal Monologue

“I should be working on that big report right now.”

“I will work on that big report right now.” Or, “I am working on that big report right now”

Which sentence is more likely to keep your nose to the grindstone? “Shoulds” are easy to ignore. We should be eating local, organic foods and not drive-thru crap. We should ride a bike instead of driving. Meh. But, when you tell yourself you are doing something or will do something, then you are more likely to follow through. After all, no one wants to lie to themselves.

Or, Have an External Dialogue

If you aren’t feeling particularly motivated, talk to a colleague or friend about your work. This is an excellent way to unwrap different layers of the task. For instance, your coworkers may have questions that highlight different issues you must address or steps you need to take. This will give you ideas of what to focus your energies on.

Give up

Your mind needs breaks from time to time. If you have been going hard in the paint for weeks, you need to give your brain a rest. So, if you don’t have any work that absolutely must get done, step away and do something relaxing. You can always come back tomorrow with your brain refreshed (unless you relax by doing crack.)

What are your “hacks” for being productive? Share below!

About the Author

James Brains is the founder and owner of Brains Report, a humorous product review and responsible consumerism website. His work has appeared on hundreds of websites. James holds a master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Oregon. When he is not writing, you can find him creating unique sushi rolls and playing roller derby. Not at the same time.

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