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Strategies for Getting Through Bad Days

I have worked upon my own process for being productive when feeling bad or unmotivated during bad days.
Sometimes we don't have the luxury of taking days off.
I would like to get feedback and also learn from others over here about your approaches.

Here is the overall process that I have used

  • Meditate for at least 15 minutes - just pause whatever you are doing to feel more centred  (or 1 minute if you really can't spare the time)
  • Set aside 1 hour for planning  (or 5 minutes like above if you can't spare the time)
  • Put down the highest priority of the day
  • Break down tasks into such great detail such that you immediately know how to begin upon looking at the subtasks
  • Schedule all of these tasks into your calendar (e.g. Google Calendar)
  • Get out of the house and do cafe hopping (Check out this thread here for more details)
    Personally, the novelty and change in environments really help me to get myself going.
    Not always applicable because sometimes you need to be at a certain place to work.
  • Be super generous for your downtime on that day.
    Schedule 3 hours into your calendar on whatever activity helps you feel re-charged.
    This can be drinking tea.
    And yes, I schedule 3 hours of drinking tea.
    Most often, I don't end up drinking tea for 3 hours but it's the thought that counts.
  • Write on ThePowerMoves forum.
    But remember to give value and not just complain.


  • Go for asynchronous communication whenever possible
  • Prepare your conversations in the day
  • Postpone difficult conversations (say that an emergency came up, or you can be honest "I need more time to prepare for our difficult conversation")


You must prepare for bad days in advance because you may not have the mental capacity and emotional capacity to handle yourself on the bad day itself.


Lucio Buffalmano and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitioned

Maybe also be more collaborative and low power than usual if they do manage to find you in your cave.  Probably not the best time to ride to battle.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Love this, Matthew.

You set out one hour for planning each day?

  • Go for asynchronous communication whenever possible

This one is a little gem, since asynchronous empowers you to better manage your time.

I embedded asynchronous in my life, partly as my lifestyle leads to it, and partly because of active choice.

My phone number changes all the time, nobody shows up announced at my door, no colleague stops by when I'm working since I ain't got any :), and my WhatsApp calls are on mute most of the time.
That means, that almost all my communication is asynchronous, allowing me full freedom to move those communication channels around as needed.

  • Scheduling the downtime

This is also a great idea.
That way, the downtime won't sneak as badly on you while you're working.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

You set out one hour for planning each day?

For good days, around 30 minutes at the start of the day and 30 minutes at the end of the day.
I put 1 hour to give myself ample buffer time.

I'm still experimenting with planning.
Planning at different time frames helps me develop an intuition of what I want to achieve in those time frames.
Maybe shifting more heavily into planning by week on Sundays could be better.

For bad days where I anticipate not being able to rely on intuition and discipline, I use planning to compensate.
For example, on a good day,

  • write an email to Peter from 2pm-2:30pm

On a bad day,

  • write down what I want to achieve by communicating to Peter in bullet points from 2pm-2:15pm
  • elaborate around those points from 2:15pm-2:30pm

Exercising on a bad day

  • pack gym bag from 2pm-2:05pm
  • change into exercise attire from 2:05pm-2:10pm
  • get out of the door from 2:10pm-2:15pm
  • walk to gym from 2:15pm-2:30pm
  • run from 2:30pm to 3pm

Basically, break down to the level where my brain would intuitively want to complete the task in anticipation of the reward.

Hello Matthew,

Personnally I don’t believe in “bad days” anymore. So I think it’s been more than 10 years that I don’t have this belief. It can still happen to me but I would say maybe once a year or once every two years.

Sometimes I experience challenging situations, yes.

I don’t know your exact life situation but in short one of the things that helped me the most was therapy.

Have you already done or considered therapy?

For most of us the biggest source of pain is the unconscious emotional baggage from our childhood and teenage years.

Then it manifests as shame, guilt, sadness, anger, fear, among other things.

I think your strategy is smart. However, as you might know I prefer to tackle the root cause of the problem to get rid of it. That’s what I do for myself and recommend to others.

Facing our fears and killing the dragon.

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