Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Thalia
Your “best” will look different every day, and that is completely ok.
We are human beings, not machines and so it is normal to go through cycles of productivity.
Some cycles are good, and some cycles are bad. And when you’re going through a bad cycle it’s essential to be kind to your mind and body.
The key to being productive when you have low energy is to be aware of your capabilities and not go beyond that. Don’t try and push yourself to the point of burnout as the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
Low energy days
Last year, I was the queen of slow, low-energy days.
I used to wake up all the time feeling like shit and would often do nothing, passing them off as self-care days.
Looking back now, I realise I wasn’t doing myself any favours, because what I thought I was doing for self-care was actually just me mindlessly scrolling through social media and watching Netflix.
The truth is, I wasn’t in the right headspace both mentally and environmentally.
Not only did my mood suffer, but this also negatively impacted my business and relationships.
And although I will always encourage regular breaks to recharge and avoid burnout, I now know it’s all about balance. Balance with how you manage your time throughout the week to combine work, rest and play.
One year later, and I’m in a much better place where I’m ridiculously happy.
I’m travelling again which is something that lights up my soul. (If you want to follow along with my digital nomad journey then come say “hi” on Instagram.)
I am also way more confident in myself, my body and my path.
I feel way more fulfilled which means I no longer have down days, apart from when I’m on my period or exhausted.
But this all came down to me taking action. Being self-aware and noticing that there was a disconnect between where I was living and what I chose to do daily.
I decided that I didn’t want a Groundhog Day life. I want a life where I’m always on the move, exploring new places and not doing the same old shit every single day.
Anyway, that’s not what this blog post is about.
This is about navigating energy levels. Because I know there are a lot of people out there who struggle to be productive on low and no energy days and beat themselves up for it.
And maybe that person is you.
So I thought it would be a great idea for me to share some tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way, on how you can stay productive even when all you want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix.
What are energy givers and energy takers?
Before we do a deep dive into the ways you can be productive on low-energy days, let’s first look at energy givers and takers.
Energy givers are the things that light you up inside and give you positive energy.
- Nourishing food
- Fresh air
- Good sleep
These are all the things that bring me joy and fill up my cup!
On the other hand, energy takers are the things that drain your energy. The things that cause you to feel tired, stressed and anxious. It is these energy takers that might contribute to you feeling low and unproductive.
- Demanding friends
- Big social events
- Toxic work environments
- Negative people
- Social media
- Hustle culture
- Poor sleep
- Crap weather
Before moving on with the rest of this post, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your energy givers and energy takers.
Become aware of them so you can begin to do less of the things that drain your energy and focus only on the things that give you energy.
In short, set boundaries for every area of your life.
7 ways to be productive on low-energy days
There could be a number of reasons why you are experiencing low energy levels.
Maybe it’s because you’re on your period, or pregnant. Or you’re going through the holiday blues, studying for exams or struggling with challenging times. Weather can also impact our energy so maybe you are currently dealing with hot, humid weather which makes it difficult to focus or struggling with shit, cold weather which dampens your mood.
Whatever the reason is, it’s important to mindfully navigate your energy levels and balance your day so you are not overdoing it and potentially hitting burnout.
Listen to your body and go easy on yourself.
The key to being productive when you have low energy is to be aware of your capabilities and not go beyond that. Be realistic and honest.
Because if you do end up pushing yourself, the only person you’re going to end up hurting is yourself.
This is not the time to worry about all the things you’re missing out on or unable to do. This is about being mindful and focusing only on the things that are truly important to you and your goals.
1 | Start your day the right way
The best thing that helps me deal with low energy levels is to still go about my day.
I allow myself a longer morning than usual but I make sure I get out of bed before 11 am, shower and get dressed. And as always, I dive into my morning routine.
A morning routine prepares you for a successful day as it bumps energy levels, lowers stress and increases your productivity.
But on slower, low-energy days they can be the driving force behind boosting your mood and well-being.
Try reading a fiction book for 30-mins (make sure it’s a genre you enjoy) or if you prefer, listen to an audiobook or a podcast. Choose something empowering to get you into the right mindset.
I totally recommend this episode from The Social Self Podcast and not because I’m the guest on it.
After you’ve exercised your mind, try moving your body to boost energy.
Do a short, gentle workout for about 20-mins. This could be going on a walk, doing light yoga, stretching or if you have access to a local pool, swimming.
Changing your perspective on things is another powerful tool to help encourage you when you feel unmotivated and deflated.
Try practising gratitude by writing down 3 things you are currently grateful for and at least one thing you are looking forward to.
Or reframe the saying “I have to do this” into “I get to do this” for an instant positive mindset shift.
Remember, you don’t “have” to do anything, no one is forcing you. You are the one in control of the choices you make. You’re lucky to “get” to decide what you choose to do.
2 | Establish your “daily best”
This is something I am getting better at doing more and more, especially now that I have quite a hectic work-life-travel balance. It’s becoming essential that I regularly check in with myself to see how I am coping.
So as soon as I wake up I ask myself, “what does my best look like today?”
Depending on my energy, mood, emotions, menstrual cycle and other lifestyle factors, I am able to determine how much I am able to give to my day.
For example, let’s say on a normal good day your energy is at 90% and you can plough through your to-do list with zero problems. But on a low-energy day, you might only be able to give 50% or 30% or even 10%.
Checking in with yourself in this way can help you to establish a more digestible to-do list that just consists of 3 priority tasks.
And by establishing your “daily best” you are able to reduce expectations, making your lower energy days a lot more manageable.
This also prevents you from pushing yourself when your energy is already low, or you’re already exhausted. In most cases, overworking will always lead to burnout. And burnout can lead to serious health problems.
So be aware of how your mind and body feel.
If you don’t feel like you can give 100% to the day then that’s fine.
Do what you can and celebrate the fact that you have tried.
3 | Nourish your body
Drink lots of water throughout the day and eat healthy foods to give your body the energy it needs.
Eat foods high in Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium to help boost energy.
And try to avoid refined sugars and caffeine which give you an instant hit but then make you crash once the effect has worn off.
Instead, stick to fruits with natural sugars like oranges, apples, bananas, berries, etc. You get the idea!
4 | Stick to simple and easy-to-achieve tasks or goals
The last thing you want to do on a low-energy day is to feel overwhelmed by your workload and tire your brain out even more. Instead, you want to look at your to-do list and feel good because you know you can comfortably get through it.
Limit your to-do list to 3 manageable tasks. (If you think you can manage a couple more then by all means, do what feels best for you.)
These tasks should be easy to complete and ones that you enjoy to make the process easier.
The aim here is to do things that don’t require too much brain power.
Because let’s face it, if your energy levels are low, chances are your concentration will be too!
So stick to simple, achievable tasks that don’t require too much effort.
5 | Give your daily tasks a timeline
Overwhelm always seems to be at its peak when energy levels are low. That and anxiety. They’re like the two ugly sisters from Cinderella, who turn up at the worst possible time.
But instead of giving in to these powerful emotions, fight back and help ease your overwhelm.
If you’ve got a bunch of things on your to-do list and your energy is low, instead of stressing out over what you’ve got to do, find a bit of clarity by identifying the specifics. Write down roughly how long each task will take so you can visually see how long you need to dedicate to each task and be able to better plan your day.
- Replying to 20 emails = 45 mins
- Client call = 60 mins
- Making lunch = 30 mins
- Exercising = 60 mins
- Post office errand = 30 mins
After you’ve listed down the time each of these tasks takes, things might not seem so scary anymore. Just be mindful that each task may take longer or shorter than what’s written down. The timings are there for you to use as a rough guide, but always stay flexible.
6 | Take plenty of fresh air breaks
It’s essential that when your energy levels are low, you get up and move around every hour or so.
Keep your body moving to stop it from falling asleep on you.
Get out in natural light and spend time outside.
Because fresh air is therapy.
It boosts your energy levels, clears the mind and makes you feel happier.
So make sure you take advantage of the daylight hours and get outside for a short walk or run. You can even wrap up warm, lie down on your back and stare up at the sky watching the clouds go by!
Play a little game and see what you can spot hidden in the clouds.
And then once you’re ready, head back inside and feel a spring in your step as you continue your day.
7 | Show yourself grace
Nothing is more important than your health and well-being.
Not even your workload or to-do list!
So put yourself first today, tomorrow and every single day after.
Learn to accept that some days you will wake up with low energy and feel unproductive and unmotivated.
But in all honesty, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t show up and give 100%. (Unless of course you are a heart surgeon but what are the chances of that right?! But please DM me if you are, I’d love to hear from you!)
Use your low-energy days as a sign to slow down, reflect and rest.
Because let me tell you, burnout isn’t pretty.
So instead of beating yourself up for feeling unenergised, give yourself grace and indulge in a bit of self-care to nourish your mind, body and soul. I promise you will feel all the better for it.
And you never know, your energy might just reappear tomorrow!
Save these tips on Pinterest for later
As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, and many times before that, it’s ok to be unproductive.
Learn that productivity doesn’t define you. Screw the narrative of needing to be constantly busy during an 8-hr work day.
When your energy levels are low, it’s so important that you preserve what you have so you can focus on your priorities.
Don’t dwell on not being able to do the unimportant or non-urgent things or things you think you “should” be doing. Like posting on social media or bulk filming reels. Focus on doing the things that will push you towards your goals.
And know that if you only manage to tick one task off your to-do list, that is still enough.
There will be other times when you have more energy and you can go above and beyond.
Besides, low-energy days can also act as a good time to reflect on everything you are doing. Check-in with yourself, your daily habits, routines and intentions to make sure they all align with your overall goals.
Don’t underestimate the power of slow, low-energy days!
I encourage you to bookmark this page, so you can refer back to these mindful tips whenever you need to.
And if you need any further guidance, feel free to contact me.
My inbox is always open.
Until next week,
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