We’ve all had those days. Days when nothing is going according to plan. Activities or meetings you anticipated taking just a few minutes are now taking up the bulk of your day. The to-do list keeps growing, but nothing’s getting checked off the list.
What’s worse is you can’t seem to get yourself out of the rut. Now, you’re in a shame spiral. You’re frustrated by the derailed day, ashamed you can’t get things back on track, and all you want to do is give up and take a nap!
Let me start by saying, sometimes you need to take the nap. That’s perfectly acceptable. There should be no guilt in allowing yourself to rest and regroup tomorrow.
But if you find yourself in this situation and you can’t or don’t want to cross the day off as a lost cause, let’s talk about what to do when your day gets derailed!
I had a day like this a few weeks ago. I was overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and upset with myself. I needed a set of strategies to pull myself out of the rut. What do you do when your day gets derailed? These are actions you can take to turn things around.
Here are the five steps to take when your day gets derailed!
Acknowledge and accept your frustration.
It’s ok to be frustrated. It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to be mad at yourself, at the universe, at the guy who cut you off in traffic. Take a few deep breaths to help you reset. The first step is to stop fighting against the frustration and acknowledge it. Trust me, accepting the annoyance helps you move forward into positive thinking.
Change your state of mind.
Take a 5-minute break to interrupt your negative thinking. Go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Jump up and down. Meditate. Sing at the top of your lungs. Dance it out. Break up your negative thinking by changing the state of your body and your mind. When our day gets off track it can easily lead to a shame spiral. Stop yourself from dwelling on the negative by physically changing your state.
Simplify your to-do list.
What has to get done today? Not what you’d like to get done or what you hoped to get done today – what are the one or two things that absolutely have to get done? Are there things you can take off your list for today? By simplifying your to the absolute essentials, you might gain the momentum you need to re-focus and get it all done. If you’re still overwhelmed, that’s ok too! You now have a clear picture of the day’s priorities and that’s a step in the right direction.
Tackle something on your list.
Now that the day’s priorities are clear, take action by tackling something on your list. There are two theories about where to start with your essential to-do list. The first theory is to start with the hardest thing first. Get the big, scary thing off your list and be done with it. The second theory is to start with the easiest thing first to gain momentum. Do what works for you. Pick one thing and check it off the list. Progress begets progress. You build momentum by physically checking something off your list.
Make a plan for tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a fresh opportunity. Channel today’s frustrations into setting yourself up for success tomorrow. Create tomorrow’s to-do list. Tidy your workspace. Gather materials for a meeting or an appointment you have tomorrow. What are things could you can do now to make tomorrow run smoothly? It sounds counterintuitive but here you are actively making life easier for your future yourself. The current you feels helpful and hopeful, while the future you is grateful for the forethought. Win! Win!
Now let’s talk about some strategies for avoiding days that easily get derailed! There are things you can do now to help alleviate the pressure of future frustrating days. Build great habits and routines now, and you create a cushion to fall back on when a day goes off track.
Start now by creating a morning routine as well as an evening routine. Build healthy habits right into your days: moving regularly, drinking water, batching tasks when possible, having a system for checking emails, meal planning, grocery shopping, and errand running.
Creating healthy habits is like depositing into your energy bank account. In the future when your day gets derailed, you’ll have reserves in your energy account!
What are your best strategies for dealing with days that get derailed? Share below!