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{Dev.id}
{Dev.id}

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What do you do when you don't feel productive

We all have those days where we feel really not productive, your brain is just like "Not today".

I was wondering if you have tips to still be productive by doing some other stuff and not stay staring at your computer waiting for miracles.

Top comments (33)

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vuild profile image
Vuild • Edited

"Not today" can be boredom, burnout, lack of appreciation, frustration, distraction, hatred (user/bosses/hardware/software/lang/tools/industry), motivation, laziness or just needed.

  • Start anyway. Just a tiny item.
  • Push through. Do it no matter what.
  • Cause pressure/stress. It has to be done.
  • Cancel the day, reward yourself no guilt & then ban the next 5 'not todays'.
  • Do physical activity. Release.
  • Do mental activity.
  • Fill up with inspiration (see things, look at things, study things).
  • Do something else (distract, detoxic, grow).
  • Change roles/projects/job/title/skills/industry.
  • Do it for someone you care about (whatever it is & whoever someone is).
  • Set goals. Small or large but achievable.
  • Publish stuff (build your brand/network/skills/whatever).
  • Play games. Call it 'research'.
  • Have a cause or purpose.
  • Engage with people you like.
  • Sleep. Eat.
  • Screen Staremode (can work).
  • Stimulation (lights/audio/sugar/caffiene/nicotine etc).
  • Break something (that causes urgency to your mind).
  • Check meds (if relevant).
  • Don't worry about it unless there are lots of days in a row or it becomes regular.

Any, none or all of the above depending on the person I guess.

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sxldvd profile image
{Dev.id}

Wow thanks! Everytime i am in that situation, i'll make sure to come check this list.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Me too. 馃ぃ

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joehobot profile image
Joe Hobot • Edited

I vote for this comment for to be Top of the Week.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Noooo!

Vote for the one where I come across as mad skilled, not odd! I'm new here. 馃槼馃ぃ

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chatziiola profile image
Lamprinos Chatziioannou

Sorry buddy but this just made me like the comment!! 馃槣馃槀 Keep crushin' it馃憡馃挭

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Done.

Top 5 oddball comment. Eyes are on you now Lamprinos.
dev.to/devteam/top-5-dev-comments-...

I blame Joe (see above).

I got insulted elsewhere too for balance so my ego is in check at least.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

You. I hold you responsible for these shenanigans. Joe.

dev.to/devteam/top-5-dev-comments-...

I was going to stalk your comments & recommend some but I can't understand them, they are above my pay grade. 馃槼

Thanks.

I

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joehobot profile image
Joe Hobot

Lol!

Sorry buddy but kudos on best comment. I really liked it.

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davidszabo97 profile image
D谩vid Szab贸

Play games. Call it 'research'.

Days Gone, I am coming!

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Today you are busy & working though, right D谩vid?

The best of the best put in extra too.

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davidszabo97 profile image
D谩vid Szab贸

Kind of :) Spent a few hours on the fresh air (aaaand got sunburnt).

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Vitamin D is useful.

Air is a productivity super tip. Without it...

Ok enough excuses, you've had air & sun so it's back work-all-night time.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Slightly tangential to the question and the other great answers so far:

One thing we do as an organization is to have an explicit "no butt in seat" policy, where folks are encouraged to just get the hell offline if they aren't feeling it today and come back refreshed. Rather than sitting around and waiting out the clock.

And it's something that needs to be reminded on and reinforced, because it's hard to muster up the courage to get offline and do other things.

This is not exactly useful advice if you have no control over these things, but depending on your situation, you might want to ask your manager about this sort of thing. Everyone understands the feeling of sitting in a chair not being productive, so if you talk about it the right way, you can maybe make it a thing.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

This is good policy. If you want long term results then being able to take actual breaks is important.

For creatives, getting most of your input from the recycled Internet at desk, will impact your results.

Your falling standards will induce stress & desperation, which will make you eat sugar. The combination of stress & sugar + a dash of desperation will lead you to big creative breakthroughs.

Your team will call you genius but your health will suffer so you take it a bit easier & the standards decline again so you start to feel stress again...馃憖馃槶

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sxldvd profile image
{Dev.id}

That is something to definitely talk about.
I think we have to remember that it is ok and normal to feel that way, and just take time to disconnect a bit.. obviously, if it happens more often, there might be some other reasons/causes to take care of.

I was thinking, this can be a bit tricky for the managers, no? How do you make sure your engineers/developers don't abuse that policy?

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mx profile image
Maxime Moreau

Yeah it could be difficult for managers, but trust is the key for management :)
Moreover if people abuse that policy he will see it.

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derek profile image
derek

"And what do we say to the god of distraction?"

arya

And if that doesn't work. I think it depends...

if critical.Thought {
  return nil, errors.New("break time")
}

working := work.Process(menial.Tasks)

return working, nil
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ilyosdev profile image
Ilyos Olimov

people write and understand go right into heaven :D

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thaianhduc profile image
Thai Anh Duc

If your brain says so, you should listen. Sometimes, closing your eyes and just admit that "not today, I am not productive today" and let it go on. I learned that from a meditation book. It helps sometimes.

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sxldvd profile image
{Dev.id}

It is definitely wise to listen to what your brain has to say.
Thank you 馃檹

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ilyosdev profile image
Ilyos Olimov

wow, thanks master, it really helps I bet

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amorganpd profile image
amorganPD • Edited

If it's a one off day, I try to recognize it immediately and give myself some guilt free relax time and not think about it.

If it's something that needs done, all of what Vuild said is great. Mine is change of scenery or sensory input (music, room, chair, etc)

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Change of scenery is one of the main ones. I change constantly & work everywhere (some very crazy) but like Ben mentions in dev.to/ben/the-best-remote-work-is... you can break flow if not careful.

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chrisrhymes profile image
C.S. Rhymes

Eventually you get used to it... 馃ぃ

I think everyone has these days. I try to do some reading, catching up on dev news. Normally I see something that could be useful in future, like a new feature or package, that gives me some inspiration and I can can go back to what I鈥檓 working on with more motivation, knowing I have something new to try later.

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jessekoester profile image
Jesse Koester

It really depends on the type of "Not Today" as others have said. Often times it depends on what your organization allows for and what the culture is. In the past I have worked in places that when burnt out or not feeling it encourage to take the day off relax and then come back refreshed. They believed that if you spend all that time trying to be productive you will either A: write code that is not as good as it could be or B: not really get anything done which both could contribute to continual "Not Today" days.

Currently I am at a different place so normally it is a change of music, forcing myself to take a short walk every half hour or hour, or change where I am sitting.

If it become a continual thing I generally will schedule time off and get outdoors. That isn't for anyone, but recently I had a really rough couple weeks and I was just burnt out so my partner and I took time off and drove out to the wilderness and just spent some time where there was no cell signal no wifi and just enjoyed the outdoors and each others company.

That is what resets me and isn't for everyone, but in a industry where you feel the constant need to keep up to date, code in your spare time or in my case often wake up in the middle of the night with and ah ha moment and get to work. Finding time to just really enjoy things that get you away from what you are doing to enjoy something unrelated is a great way to break the cycle.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Very true.

This works for a lot of people even if they don't realize it at the time. Europeans take August off (whole +/-5 days each side) to basically spend time in nature, eat, drink, exercise & relax. It didn't get there by accident.

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chatziiola profile image
Lamprinos Chatziioannou

I don't know people... 馃 It seems to me that even though I agree with many of the previously mentioned "solutions", a great percentage of those is purely theoretical. Should you ever not feel productive you can fix your schedule according to your condition : if you are exhausted you can undoubtedly take the day off (and it is usually suggested to do so) but, if you only lack inspiration or self motivation in general, doing so won't help you. Instead you have to either try to find out what causes you to feel like that or distract yourself by (ideally) trying to improve yourself at something.

It is just a personal view on the subject.

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rachelsoderberg profile image
Rachel Soderberg

I try to just "do something" and make an effort to not be too hard on myself. School and the gym have helped me learn that not every day is productive perfection, but that doesn't mean I'm going to fail or lose my "gains".

One strategy I did incorporate for school that helped a great deal was leaving some buffer time (read: don't leave things until right before the deadline). When I leave enough time before the due date, I avoid that crippling anxiety where my mind winds itself up saying "but I have to work, it's due tomorrow. I can't work but I need to work!!!" With the extra time I can take a day to just do a couple bullets off the list and take an easy day, then still have plenty of time to regroup and kill it the next day.

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aminecodes profile image
Amine

I work on a small and fun personal project that I enjoy; it doesn't matter what it's about as long as it feels fun and not working, this usually motivates me to work more on the 'real' stuff.

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vuild profile image
Vuild

Following up on this discussion...

If you have been struggling with productivity & "not todays" for a while (the last lines being the ones that stand out for you), feel free to message me (any platform) if you want some support/help in getting that thing going again.

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chiangs profile image
Stephen Chiang

I go to the gym whenever I get that feeling or when I hit a block. Quite often I come back refreshed or with a potential solution to investigate.

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sxldvd profile image
{Dev.id}

Nice, i often get out and walk a bit.
I'll try the gym option next time, sounds like a good idea