Sometimes you can have everything set up for you to get things done,

have every task clearly marked down on your to-do list, and basically be in tip-top work conditions and — still struggle to achieve anything…

It can come down to something as small as waking up tired or bad weather or as big as having too much to do in too little time and getting discouraged.

Some days are simply harder than others, so give yourself a break you’re merely human!

Now that we cleared this up, I thought I would share with you what some of us in the Gmelius team find useful when we need to snap out of it and get work done!

Optimize your work setting

We work in a big open space, broken down by 2 meter high portable walls which isolate each company but aren’t really soundproof. Even if it’s all fairly quiet, being all 7 of us in the same space surrounded by others all the time can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you’re struggling to focus.

One of the ways we get over it, is by switching work-spaces. Samir, our VP of product, will book himself a meeting room or go to a quieter area of the open space to focus and be alone. Something as simple as moving yourself to a calmer place, giving yourself a new view or some alone time can help you get the extra energy needed to finish a project.

Find your focus mode

Remember the last time you got “in the zone”? You know that moment where you get down to it and work for hours at a time not seeing the time go by.
That’s your focus or “deep work” mode, it’s the head space you get into when no distraction finds its place, and you end up being super efficient.

What would you need to recreate it?

I, personally need to set everything up for the task ahead. For an email pitch to a blogger for example:

I will write a draft down in bullet points, including notes about a blog post they wrote that I loved, all the key topics I want to mention about my product and how to get in touch with me.

Once the key information is laid out for me, I just need to fill the blanks. If I am having a hard time focusing, setting everything up will help me achieve the task at hand little by little. It will make writing the email much easier — add to it a tea and a good instrumental playlist and I am ready to get in the zone.

Speaking of playlist, for Raphaël, our CTO, the way to his focus mode is as simple as a combination of noise-cancelling headphones and electro.

Take a proper break

How efficient you are when you work is often directly linked to how good your breaks are. To really separate work from break, step away from your desk. A quick scroll through social media may look like a break, but you aren’t doing anything much different than work sitting at your desk in front of your screen.

If you can only get away for a few minutes, really try to focus on your body, your breathing, give your mind a rest and your body a good stretch. Try something as easy as resting your eyes by closing them for 20 seconds and then focusing on something several steps away and repeat at least 3 or 4 times.

On the other hand, if you can get a little extra time, than do something else, away from screens. Go outside, share a coffee with a colleague, read a chapter of an actual book. Our team breaks into little Foosball games once every other day. (They even ended up winning the office’s tournament, trophy and all, so that’s something!)

A proper break will give your mind and body some change, and this is key to keeping your energy levels up. Even the most focused worker will get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

Get yourself a reward

One extra tip, if you need to power through one last task or just need the extra motivation to finish up something, treat yourself.

The carrot system really works, you get the satisfaction of having done your task and a little extra to feel good. We tend to have cookies around the office — a lot of cookies — but you could reward yourself with a nice coffee or a quick call to set up drinks with a friend.

It’s not easy to power through unproductive days but sometimes little things and small changes can give you the push you needed to make the most of it.

Originally published at