10 Tips to Get Back on Track When Life Derails Your Productivity

Off Track

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.

Sometimes life throws you a curveball.

Even the best laid plans can get derailed.

How do you get your productivity back on track and get things done?

When Life Takes You Off Track

Life always has a way to disrupt your productivity.

Recently, I was settling in for a 2.5 hour flight. I was planning on getting quite a bit of work done on the flight including catching up on email, writing a document and making a project plan.

Then things went off track.

We ended up sitting on the runway for over 30 minutes. Once airborne, the Internet connectivity which we now take for granted was on the blink.

To add to the situation, the person seated next to me appeared to believe that my seat was their seat, as well. The concept of “personal space” did not seem to be in their dictionary.

Needless to say, my plans of being extremely productive on the trip were dashed.

How has life disrupted you recently?

  • A long wait that you weren’t expecting?
  • An urgency that pushed your work back?
  • Something that didn’t work out as planned?

When life takes you off track, it is up to you to determine how you will react.

“When life takes you off track, you can complain about it… or do something about it.” (Tweet this Quote)

You can waste time commiserating about your situation.

Or you can do something to get your work back on track.

Get Your Productivity Back on Track

Life is all about how you react.

You can get mad. You can pout. Or you can take action to get things done despite what has occurred.

Here are 10 Tips to Help You Get Back on Track When Life Has Derailed Your Plans:

  1. Always Have Backup Tasks – There will be times that you cannot accomplish your primary work. Either because a resource or person that you need is unavailable. Always have other work to shift gears to. (See #3)
  2. Have a Plan B – Life has a way of doing the unexpected. Always have an alternate way to accomplish your work. There is always more than one way to do a task.
  3. Check Your List – If you don’t know what to do next, check your list. Often, you will find that you have plenty of smaller or other tasks that you can accomplish.
  4. When You Can’t Do a Lot, Do a Little – When situations prevent you from getting a lot of work done, then do a little. Even a few smaller, lower priority tasks done are better than none.
  5. Bring Reading Material – You never know when you are going to have an unexpected wait or downtime. Have reading material with so that you can catch up. This is a great low-energy task that you can fit in almost anywhere.
  6. Go Low Tech – When technology is the obstacle, go low tech. In my situation, I switched to paper to solve my problem. I wrote my business plans in my trusty Moleskine. It doesn’t need WiFi to be productive.
  7. Don’t Complain – When things go awry, complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. Whining about what has gone wrong only delays things even further. Instead, take action. Do something about it.
  8. Take Action – When life takes you off track, you can sit idly by or you can take action to right things. Don’t be passive. Don’t wait for life to do something else. Take action to get yourself back on track.
  9. Be Flexible – Being able to adapt is key to getting your work done. You can’t control everything life throws at you. (Nor should you try.) Roll with it. Be flexible. And be willing to adjust your course.
  10. Maintain a Positive Attitude – Your attitude, more than anything else, will determine just how far off track life takes you. Being positive has a magical effect of turning even the worst of scenarios back in the right direction.

Recovering Your Productivity

When life derails your productivity make sure you control your own reaction.

Complaining. Waiting. Making excuses. None of these help you get going again.

Instead, bring your positive attitude and take action to get yourself back on track.

Question: How do you get yourself back on track when life disrupts your productivity? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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19 thoughts on “10 Tips to Get Back on Track When Life Derails Your Productivity

  1. Thanks Craig for the very helpful post. It has taken me a long time to learn it but the ability to be flexible and keep a positive mental attitude are key elements to help keep me on track.

  2. Love the list Craig. I am definitely one who has been TM challenged. In work and in life, so this list is a simple and easy list for me to incorporate. Sometimes when life gets me off track and I am being pulled in different directions, I like to get outdoors to regroup and get back on track. Number 8 really stood out for me because a year ago, I was about to give up on my dreams, but then I couldn’t allow anyone to steal them, even myself, so I took action and now I am moving in the right direction.

  3. I would add one thing to the list: don’t be shy to ask for help or advice. Sometimes life throws you a ball that’s way too big to juggle with your to-do list. Trying to get your control back all alone might add unnecessary stress that will just stop you from recovering focus.

  4. I think having a ‘brainless’ project (or reading material) is key! I always try to have something along that’s boring and easy to do in a chaotic situation… but that’s still productive!

  5. Interesting Post Craig. I think item 4. “When You Can’t Do a Lot, Do a Little” is very important to keep some kind of momentum going and to boost a feeling of confidence and pride.

  6. Great post Craig! I couldn’t agree more with #1 and #3. I find one of my biggest barriers to productivity is remembering what I have to do. It sounds ridiculous but without a list to refer to I could waste an entire day.

  7. When You Can’t Do a Lot, Do a Little – This is true..Even if it’s a small action, it can still be an accomplishment for you. You can also breakdown those bigger tasks and work on those tasks one at a time.

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