Imagine a day when you:
- Woke up an hour late
- Spilled coffee on your shirt
- Looked everywhere for your keys
- Got a call from your angry boss
- Arrived late for your presentation
People's worst nightmare…
But – chances are:
- You had a similar kind of day before
- It might happen in the future
We ALL have bad days (nobody's perfect).
I've had some pretty tough days myself…
But I can tell you this:
You can reset any bad day…
…before it spirals way out of control.
And turn it into a GREAT one!
Yep – follow these 5 awesome tips to recover from a day full of problems.
Tip #1: Be Grateful
When the going gets tough – that's the time to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Remember what you DO have! Count your blessings and write them down. You'd be surprised by how much you should be thankful for every day. Even the water that comes out of your faucet.
No matter what, there's someone else who's struggling more than you. If you can't seem to believe that – put yourself in the shoes of 53-year-old John Kralik (author of A Simple Act of Gratitude).
Picture yourself in the “rock bottom” state that John experienced in his early 50s:
- Running a law firm that was on the brink of failure
- Living in a small apartment with NO heater or air conditioning
- Getting divorced a second time around
- Growing distant from his kids
- Being 40 pounds overweight
John's book recounts what he decided to do on New Year's Day to make his life a bit more tolerable. He would write one thank-you note each day for a full year.
Little did he know – that simple act would turn his whole life around. He started to reap the rewards of better relationships and financial gains. He lost weight and found inner peace within himself.
He bounced back completely – and now lives to tell his story. Just an ordinary guy who overcame a lot with the help of gratitude. And we could all learn something from his book.
So if you're an overachiever who sets the bar high for himself, or maybe a college student who feels like dropping out – try comparing your problems to the hardships other people face. Have you ever seen cancer patients or children with disabilities? You'll quickly realize your “problems” are tiny in comparison.
And besides, you should remind yourself of everything you've done right – what you've achieved to get to where you are today. Combine that with counting your blessings. Then use those thoughts as motivation to fight through the day.
Tip #2: Relax For A Bit
When it's hot… don't you feel like drinking cold water or taking a cold shower?
That's a way of balancing things out. Cold is the opposite of hot. Just like relaxation is the opposite of stress or worry.
The good news? There are several practical ways to calm yourself down and get back on track (especially after a rough morning):
• Go for a run
• Listen to music
• Eat lunch in a nice restaurant
• Speak with a trusted friend over the phone
If you pull yourself out of the current situation for a short while – you can relax and release the tension you've been feeling. And that's healthy! (Some men tend to keep those feelings pent-up, but it'll only hurt them in the long run.)
Learn to laugh as well!
I once read about this prisoner of war who had an “imaginary friend” that he'd talk to whenever he was tortured. What's interesting was the fact that his torturers played along and offered the imaginary friend some tea – but the prisoner said his friend didn't like tea!
Many of us underestimate the power of humor. If you can make light of your struggles – you can actually deal with them better. Because humor takes the “weight” or seriousness of the problem off your mind. It gives you mental clarity.
And having a sense of humor is one of many tricks to handle any stressful situation and put things into perspective. So learn to use those during a bad day.
Tip #3: Set Deadlines On Priority Tasks
When it appears you have so much to do in so little time – that's a recipe for hell.
But here's what you ought to know: there's a chance that Vilfredo Pareto's “80/20” principle applies to you. Where 80% of your outcome comes from just 20% of your input.
So pinpoint your priority tasks in a given day – the 20% of “input” activities that yield your desired outcome (a.k.a. money).
Once you've figured that out – you can focus on what really counts at work. You can adjust the day so you don't waste energy on trivial, secondary matters.
Then you'll want a schedule – with a fixed time frame for each priority task. That means creating “fake” deadlines.
I let my kids go through something similar and gamify their time to do homework. And they do it more efficiently! Thanks to the pressure involved (even though it's “gamified” pressure) they're able to discipline themselves. They bear in mind the consequences that come with it – like whether or not they'd get a “reward” or have extra time to play.
So likewise, try setting 30-45 minutes (or any reasonable amount of time) for priority tasks that require concentration. Add some extra motivation by coming up with small rewards – such as ordering your favorite cheeseburger after work – for beating deadlines.
Tip #4: Find A Way To Work More Efficiently
The root cause of a bad day isn't always doing the wrong things. You might be doing the right things the WRONG way.
For example: check out this 5-minute video of an artist drawing a car using Microsoft Paint. Pause it at the end of each minute and you'll notice what the artist is able to accomplish:
• 1 min = wireframe of the car
• 2 mins = basic colors
• 3 mins = windshields, rims
• 4 mins = reflections, shading
• 5 mins = headlights, finishing touches
Now let's say you were that artist and you had to make potential car designs for a client. And you were only given 5 minutes to start from scratch.
Would it be better to spend those 5 minutes on…
A. One complete design of a single car?
B. Five car designs at the wireframe level?
The answer: it really depends on your client's needs. Option A would be perfect if they had a specific car in mind. Or option B if they were undecided and wanted some general concepts.
So that's precisely how you should look at your work days. Is it crucial to finish an entire “car” ASAP? Perhaps you should do five “wireframes” instead so you can be a few steps ahead by the time you have to tackle one project.
In my case, YouTube videos are the “cars” and getting one of them filmed each day is a big accomplishment. That's why I can knock through a video in 30 minutes (as long as I'm motivated).
So find a way to cut the “fat” off priority tasks. You're not necessarily overspending time – but you must spend the time more wisely. And being more productive turns a tough day upside down.
Tip #5: Keep Your Relationships Healthy
That's right. Don't forget about everybody who's part of your life. And apologize to them!
A bad day with a bad mood doesn't just affect you. It might cause you to snap at those people or blurt out words you don't mean.
Whether or not they can tell you need some space – you should always say “sorry” after the deed. And mention you're having a rough day.
And when you've got the time – follow up your verbal apology with a nice gift for anyone you've hurt or offended. You can buy fresh flowers for them since those are great for elevating people's moods.
Why? Because relationships are NOT one-way. You can't expect your loved ones and workmates to keep understanding you and “brush off” the harsh words. You should also do your part.
Remind your family that you love them. Admit your fault to your coworkers. Communicate, hug or shake hands, and then both parties can move on.
All it takes is an apology – plus the humility to give it. Trust me. Saying “sorry” is the perfect way to end a bad day… and to welcome the next day with open arms.