How to Help Your Mind Focus on Days When You Feel Useless
Simply being aware of what you are feeling, whether emotional or physical, is important to making changes to improving your focus. Be mindful of when you're feeling stressed, tired or not sitting properly in your chair. If you are tired, why is that? Did you get enough sleep last night? Make a conscious effort to have a nap at lunch, then. Take 10 minutes before you start working to evaluate your body. It's worth it.
Take advantage of the time of day when you feel most energized. For me, that is in the morning. Be aware of this time and use it to get as much done as possible.
Listen to music
There are many things during the course of a day that demand our attention as freelancers, urging us to be the multi-taskers that we were never meant to be. Playing music in the background is a great way to keep motivated and energized. When I have my headphones on, I can't hear my phone or iPad going off. I find this to be a great way to tune out any sounds that may be distracting and cause me to lose focus.
Take a nap
I'm a really light sleeper, so I have problems sleeping on airplanes or moving cars and can't fall asleep unless it's completely dark and quiet. Almost every day, my energy dips around 3 or 4. To combat this, I usually head to the gym. But, on days when I can't make it to the gym, taking a 20-minute power nap would definitely be a good option. Unfortunately, it takes me about half an hour to fall asleep and by then, I feel like it's not worthwhile. (Any light sleepers out there that have found a solution?!)
I've also read about coffee naps. Pretty simple - drink a cup of coffee and take a 20 minute nap. It apparently creates more alertness and wakefulness than just having a cup of coffee or tea.
Do something else
On days where my productivity is dipping, I try to accomplish something else on my to-do list that isn't related to work. Whether that's having to take clothes to the dry cleaners, get groceries or put away my laundry, I try to accomplish something. Even though I may not have made a huge breakthrough with my work, I'll at least feel like the day wasn't wasteful. Sometimes I feel more motivated after I accomplish something completely unrelated, that I can come back to my work later with a fresh mind.
Some days I am just not feeling it. No matter what I do, I literally can't focus. I usually can't power through it, no matter how many times I try to convince myself I can do it. Your body might be telling you you need to take a day off, so take it!