How to deal with days in which you feel less productive?
Since everyone has very productive along with less productive days, you deal with it by not worrying. You just do the best you can every day, being less productive some days, and being super productive other days.
When I get in each morning, I look over my list of tasks and meetings for the day. I attempt to arrange them so that I tackle the really important tasks first, and the less important tasks later.
Since I'm very much a morning person, I tend to be very productive early. Later in the day, I may continue to be very productive, but usually not as intensely as in the morning.
Arranging my tasks this way allows me to ensure that the important stuff gets dealt with to the best of my abilities no matter what.
If you find yourself repeatedly feeling less-than-productive, you might want to take a few quiet moments to reflect on that fact.
- Do these down periods happen at certain times in the day?
- Do they happen at certain days of the week?
- Are there specific triggering events?
Understanding more about what might be behind these moods might allow you to deal with the root cause, and not just the symptoms. Dealing with the cause is often far more effective in the long run.
I have found that after certain monthly meetings, I tend to feel a bit deflated and less productive. Knowing this, I try to adjust my schedule so that I can use this down period for research and other routine tasks which don't require the same level of intense concentration. After performing a few hours of more menial tasks, I find that I can shake off the mood and get back to my usual productivity.
Occasionally, I'll have a day such as you describe which is very non-productive. Sometimes, I'll get all the really important work done, and then just leave. I find some way to clear my head, sometimes taking a walk, often just doing something other than work that needs my immediate attention. I pick things up either later from home, or just wait until the next day. Fortunately, in my shop I have that flexibility.
Overall, what you describe happens to everyone. Don't sweat it.