I’m sure you’ve had days when it seems like you’re not making any progress on the work you need to be doing. There are lots of reasons why this might be happening:

  • Maybe you need information from a client or coworker in order to proceed, and that person hasn’t provided it.
  • Maybe you’re suffering from writer’s block or having difficulty coming up with creative ideas.
  • Maybe the office is so busy and noisy that you’re finding it difficult to focus, or you’re distracted by events going on in your personal life.

Whatever the reason, when you don’t seem to be getting a lot done, it can be pretty upsetting. You may start to feel frustrated and anxious. But you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself! You’ll most likely make up for your lack of productivity the next day or later in the week.

In the meantime, author Kat Boogaard has created a list of things that you can do now (depending on how much time you have to spare) that will help to alleviate your feelings of frustration. If you can cross one of these items off of your list, you’ll have done something worthwhile. And you can leave the office feeling more satisfied and accomplished.


If you have five minutes to spare:

  • Compliment a coworker – Everyone loves a compliment. And doesn’t it feel nice when you can make other people happy? So go ahead and pay one of your coworkers a compliment. It’s definitely good use of your time!
  • Send a former coworker an email – Sending a former coworker an email is a great way to strengthen your connection. It’s an easy way to do a little networking. And your former coworker will appreciate the fact that you still want to stay in contact.
  • Go outside – Research suggests that just looking at trees makes stressed-out people feel more calm and relaxed. So if you’re having a tough time at work, go outside for a few minutes. The fresh air, trees, and sunshine will help to alleviate your stress and elevate your mood.


If you have twenty minutes to spare:

  • Clean up your desk – File your papers, recycle the documents you no longer need, and organize your space. Cleaning up your office will help you to be more focused and productive later. Plus, it will give you a strong feeling of accomplishment. Organizing your stuff can be very satisfying!
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted emails – I’m sure you get a lot of unwanted email from various businesses and organizations. So, if you’re feeling up to it, you could spend some time trying to unsubscribe from those email lists. (Warning – this can sometimes be a very difficult and frustrating process! The marketers don’t want you to unsubscribe, so they’re going to make it as hard for you as possible. So only attempt this if you’re feeling determined and energized. If you manage to succeed, you will feel triumphant!)
  • Read a work-related article – It’s important to stay current on what’s going on in your field. So spend a little time reading an article about the new things that are going on in your area. The information that you learn may help you to be more effective and productive in the future.


If you have an hour to spare:

  • Organize your computer files – My desktop is kind of a mess. I admit it. If you’re in a similar situation, you should spend some time organizing your files and documents. It would be a valuable use of your time and a significant accomplishment!
  • Organize your email inbox – Similarly, some of you might have an email inbox that’s a little out of control. Responding to emails, organizing them, and deleting those that are not important would be time well spent.
  • Have lunch with one of your coworkers – Strengthening your bonds with your coworkers is always a good idea and never a waste of time. When people have good relationships at work, they’re happier and more productive. They’re more likely to collaborate, share ideas, be creative, and enjoy the work that they do.
  • Formulate a plan – OK, so maybe you weren’t super-productive today. But tomorrow is another day! So get prepared by creating a plan for how you’re going to tackle that daunting project or complete your various assignments. Having a plan in place will help you to stay motivated and focused.


Boogaard, K. (n.d.). 12 things you absolutely won’t regret doing at work today. The Muse. Retrieved from: https://www.themuse.com/advice/12-things-to-do-on-a-bad-workday?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-0