Feeling tired and not motivated? Fear not! Check out these 10 ways to get insanely productive!

I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m pretty darn good at mastering productivity.

There are a lot of areas of my life where I need to be productive. I’m a grad student while being a self-employed blogger, and that is very hectic in itself. In addition, throw maintaining physical fitness, eating well, and creating some time for my personal well-being all in the mix. My life can be pretty hectic, but I try to do my best to balance it all.

Not to say that I’m perfect in all of these areas, because I’m most definitely not. Productivity is a skill, and it requires patience, practice, and compassion towards oneself.

I’m writing this piece today because I would like to share with you ways that I am able to stay productive even on days where I’m feeling tired, cranky, and not motivated. Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and tell yourself to quit making excuses. There are deadlines to meet and things to accomplish. But believe me- it can be SO hard to train your mind this way when you just aren’t feelin’ it.

I’m compiled a list of 10 of my tricks to help you become an insanely more productive person. Whether you need to be productive for work, school, or just life in general, these tips will help you hold yourself accountable for what you need to accomplish.

1.) Be excited about the final outcome

Productivity is all about self-motivation. What are you looking to achieve? Think about the big picture. Writing that lab report for school will put you one step closer to finishing the semester, which in turn ensures a college degree. Finishing that 3-mile run will count as your third workout this week, which means you’ve hit your goal.

See where I’m coming from? FIND REASONS to get you through this hurdle. Think about the final goal. Envision yourself there, and make it happen. Mind over matter. Positive thinking does wonders.

2.) Get in the zone

What in the heck is going to make you feel motivated? For me, I need to have a clean house. I can’t do a darn thing if I’m in a messy work environment. It also helps if have on soothing music and a candle burning. Whatever puts you in your “happy place,” make it work. Surround yourself in an environment that will ultimately boost your productivity. It’s hard to get things done if you have other distractions getting in your way.

3.) Give yourself timed increments and breaks

If I have an 8-page paper due for my grad program, it can be especially daunting to start the project. What helps me is setting small timed increments. For example: I’m going to sit at my desk at 11am and start writing. At 11:45am, I will stop and take a lunch break. At 12:15, I will resume my paper and work until 1:00 until my next break.

I might sound like a drill sergeant here, but these timed increments with breaks works wonders. You can’t power through and be productive for 4 hours straight without taking a break. I feel like that’s almost physically impossible. Remember- often the hardest part about starting a project is simply STARTING it. And you can DO this.

4.) Caffeine = Life

Maybe I shouldn’t be promoting caffeine because too much of it isn’t a good thing, but I’m not going to lie…. I’m a deadbeat without my coffee. Nothing is going to happen without it! There is just something soothing about sipping on a coffee while working. If you’re not a coffee drinker, try tea. Tea has amazing health benefits, is packed with antioxidants, and will still give you that little buzz that you need.

5.) Workout in the morning

Whenever I work out in the morning, I’m usually insanely productive the rest of the day. Working out totally energizes me. Not to mention the endorphin rush fuels my positive vibes because I feel like I already accomplished a huge thing on my To-do list. Speaking of which…

6.) Make a Realistic To-Do List

I’m a huge fan of To-Do lists. However– notice there is a difference here– REALISTIC to-do lists. Because nothing feels worse than when the day is over and you only accomplished half of the things on your list. That’s a GREAT way to cut yourself down. I like to only put things that I KNOW I have time to accomplish on my list. I’ll write down what I’m going to do and in that exact order, so I keep myself accountable.

For example:

Sample list:
1.) Respond to emails
2.) Put dinner in the Crock-pot
3.) Run 2 miles
4.) Finish blog post
5.) Run to bank
6.) Fold load of laundry
7.) Complete 2 pages of research paper

This list isn’t super long or overwhelming. I know that I can accomplish everything on this list in one day. And if I DO, I treat myself.

I suggest writing your to-do list in an organized, clean planner. The Tools4Wisdom Planner is one of my absolute faves:

7.) Have a friend hold you accountable

When my physical fitness was slipping, I knew that at that point, I wasn’t strong enough to do this on my own. I reached out and asked for help when I needed it. My best friend from college and I used to keep each other extremely motivated when we were in school. We would work out together, cook dinners together, and share our fitness successes and failures. However, this is the real world, not college. Even though she now lives in Virginia, we still like to text each other throughout the day to hold each other accountable. We both are working to get back on the Healthy Train, so we text each other every morning what we are going to do for a work out today, and even text each other what we eat throughout the day. It’s been extremely effective to have her hold me accountable, and I’ve seen results because of it.

Bottom line: Tell someone your goals. Have someone monitor your progress. MAKE THEM keep you accountable!

8.) Keep a routine

Routines, routines, ROUTINES!!! Routines are everything. Nothing ruins productivity more than a sporadic day without a plan. Make a routine and be consistent with it! Work out at the same time every day. Respond to emails every morning when you wake up. Go for a walk after dinner every night. Routines become habits, and habits become Productivity Juice.

9.) Manage your time well

This can be a tricky one. Managing your time is a skill that requires practice. The key is to chunk up your day and work on things bit by bit so you avoid procrastination. I wrote a whole detailed post on time-management skills here.

10.) Post motivational quotes

This sounds super cheesy, but I’m a lot more motivated when I read motivating literature and quotes. Sometimes all you need is that little boost to lift you up when you’re feeling down.

What are ways that you motivate yourself on days you don’t feel productive? Leave me a comment below.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of compensation. I PROMISE you guys that I only promote products that I truly love! Thanks for supporting brands that make Inspiration Indulgence possible!




  • These are some GREAT tips! I especially love the working out in the morning, and caffeine! I look forward to my workout AND my tea following my workout. One of the best part of my days :) Yay to being productive!!

    • Right! I love the sense of calmness it instills.

  • This is exactly what I needed to read on a rainy Monday when I’m not feeling particularly motivated! Thank you so much!

  • I LIVE for to do lists!!! I love this post! thanks so much!

    • Thanks, Brittany! I need my to-do lists to help motivate me!

  • This is just what I needed right now, Chels! There are so many times when I sit down to get something done and end up getting distracted and doing something completely unrelated. To-do lists definitely keep me on track though!

    • For sure! My to-do list keeps me accountable! It has to be a REALISTIC list though (:

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    Mind over matter – seriously! This is the hardest thing for me. I also think working out in the morning helps keep me accountable and stick to a schedule

    • I know- it can be a challenge. If I don’t work out, I feel mad at myself for the whole day.

  • It made me laugh when you said that you can’t focus in a messy house, because I am the same way! I have to clean before I start projects.

    • I think it just clears the distractions away :)

  • I totally live on coffee, to-do lists and quotes! Great post! :)

    • Thank you! :) Glad you can agree!

  • Becky @Disney in your Day

    So many of these are useful, but #3 and #6 are really big for me! I’ve been trying to do a to-do list before I go to bed at night for the next day.

    • I write mine before bed too sometimes! It helps clear my racing thoughts (:

  • I’m all about to-do lists. My problem is following them! I have such a hard time getting in the zone! Also, I wish I could work out in the morning. I really do. But I am so putzy when I get ready! I have to shower at night because the process of showering, drying my hair, straightening or curling it, etc is just too much for me in the morning. Because of that, my workouts have to be at night or I would be waking up WAY too early!

    • I’m lucky right now because I’m in grad school and can make my own schedule..I’m really going to struggle when I start working 8-4pm!

  • Karin Rambo

    These are great tips! When I was in grad school PLUS working full time I posted a little note on my desktop with a Nelson Mandela quote: “It always seems impossible until its done” That always gave me the jolt I needed to get back on track because I figure if he could say that about what he did for the world, then I can finish a darn paper. :)

    • Aw I love that!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    I love everything you wrote. I taught study skills back when was in college. 20/10 is actually the most effective time period for exceptional productivity. 20 minutes on ten minutes off. It seems disruptive but it is amazing what happens when you stick to it. xo

    • I think I’ve heard that before! So awesome…thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • You know, I don’t think I would be awake ever if it weren’t for caffiene

  • Such great tips! I seriously swear by working out in the morning. I recently got out of my morning workout.. and I can tell! Like I’m so slow moving all day now, whereas when I was up early working out I felt like I could go for days. xo
    Kelsey | http://www.abalancingpeach.com

    • Ugh don’t remind me! I’ve had an off week so far with my running.. need to get back into it!

  • This is a great post! I couldn’t agree with #4 more haha I live off caffaine! Strange, but coffee relaxes me, which helps me get busy work done. And working out in the AM… crutial. I did this all summer and wow it helped so much. An amazing way to start my day. Fall and winter I suck at getting up early to workout :/ if the sun is not awake I have a hard time myself lol. Great post!!
    Danielle Greco

    • Coffee relaxes me too. It’s literally a drug..a legal drug. And I know tell me about it :/ living in Wisconsin, the winters seem like they are 8 months long lol

  • Mariel Linskey

    This post was an absolute pleasure for me to read! This was a huge boost for me in my daily routine! I do all of these things already, but seeing put out there with such oomph is a huge burst of energy for me! Seriously, this post is my favorite post you’ve ever written. I can totally relate to having a clean workspace. I can’t do a single thing until my studio is ship shape to start writing music or working out. You are such a terrific blogger! Please write more posts like this one! Now I’m gonna go work out. THANK YOU!

    • Aw!! Really! Thank you so much, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!!

  • Hil D

    I lost it at caffeine!! EPIC! But true, caffeine=functioning!

  • Serene Mom

    Yes to the caffeine! I love how realistic this list is. Thank you for sharing!

  • These tips seem so easy to accomplish, well except for the clean house part for me. LOL Not really. I love a clean house too, and I agree is hard to stay productive when it is messy. I also love the time increments. I give myself deadlines to complete certain task by setting a timer. I can’t live without my ice coffee either. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yummy, iced coffee!!! Thanks for reading, Mary!

  • Great tips! I couldn’t agree more with caffeine! I don’t know what I’d do without my coffee haha coffee, good music, and organization keeps me going throughout the day.

    • Same..organization is another key factor!!

  • Breaks and time management work best for me! Great tips!

  • I totally agree with all of these! I am slipping on my workout routine and it has impacted my day in a bad way. Hoping to get back at it soon. Great post!

    • You can get back into this! I got your back!

  • Leah Hall

    These are all great tips! Routine is a huge one for me, and one I struggle with, especially with 2 little boys who sometimes mess up the routine! Ha! Thanks for this!

    • Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine how busy your house is!!

  • Jessica Gardner

    Great tips. I will be using these in my future as sometimes I feel like I am very unproductive well I could be more productive throughout my day.

    • You got this, girl!! Thanks for reading!

  • Totally agree with #2- I can’t do ANYTHING productive if my house is cluttered. These are great tips!

    • I think it’s just one more thing that I have anxiety about!

  • Ashley Amanda

    Love this! I’m a new mom, newbie blogger, a business owner and it’s so hard to keep everything balanced! These are awesome!

    • Oh my goodness, you are a busy woman!! Good for you!

  • I needed all of these reminders! I have been struggling with productivity as I’ve been down lately.

    • Coffee, coffee, coffee (: You got this!!

  • Routines and lists are so important to maintaining productivity. I’ve been struggling with keeping stuff on track lately (and experiencing some blogger burnout) so this post is just what I needed to read!

    • Aw sorry to hear that! I’ve had blogger burnout and it sucks. One day at a time! You got this (:

  • Rose Mont

    Making a list for me helps greatly. I do take breaks but I wish I could knock out more at one time. I try to put in as much as I can during my kids nap time but still wind up having some more to do when they wake up. I should squeeze in a nice mandatory cup of hot liquid goodness though to get me going.

    • Seriously, I can’t live without my coffee!!!

  • Yes! To-do lists are the ONLY thing that keeps me going. Otherwise my ADD self takes over!

  • DT

    To-do lists and motivation keeps me going!
    — DT | Here I Scribble

  • To-do lists are huge for me; I don’t know what I would do without them! I also find that I’m way more productive if my space is clean; if it isn’t then I can concentrate!

    • I know! I feel like it stems from anxiety.

  • To-do lists, breaks, and having a routine are the key to productivity for me! If I don’t have those, my life is utter chaos. Love your list! These are such great suggestions!

    • Thank you so much for reading and stopping by, Brittany!

  • These are all awesome tips!
    Breaks and to-do lists are my big ones.

    xoxo, Jenny || http://www.breakfastatlillys.com

    • Same here. I NEED a break!!

  • jillconyers

    I recently shared a be productive list. Great minds right! I do a lot of the things on your list.

  • This is so incredibly helpful! I struggle with productivity and these tips are such a simple way to get more done

    • I’m glad you found it helpful! Thanks so much for reading!

  • This is such a great list — all of those ways are great for being more productive. I definitely need to incorporate them into my life. Stat!

    • Thanks for reading! Hope they help! (:

  • Love this blog post & definitely need it right now in my life! I feel you on juggling so many roles… I work full-time, teach yoga, blog 2-3x a week, and then find time for my fiancé and social life in between all of that.
    I like your tip on envisioning the end product to get over that hurdle.. I get hurdle syndrome a lot, LOL. Thanks for a great post!

    • Oh my gosh, girlfriend! Yes you are really really busy!!! I admire you for keeping your head on and your priorities straight. One day at a time!

  • Samantha Fletcher

    Thank you for the tips. I will definately be trying these. I need to manage my time and blog more..

    • It can be hard, I totally feel you! Life is just so crazy busy. I wish we could all just slow down.

  • These are legitimately awesome tips, Chelsea!! Love every single one. Working out first thing in the morning is my go-to thing…it does WONDERS for my motivation, productivity, health, and my overall happiness levels! Definitely less stressed after I’ve got endorphins coursing through my body.
    Sharing this on Twitter! <3

    Coming Up Roses

    • Thank you so much for sharing,Erica! I really appreciate it!!

  • Tarah-Lynn

    Love these tips! One can’t ever be too productive!

  • Austin Iuliano

    Great tips, If I may add 61 more tips to your list http://dscience.co/71-unbelievably-easy-tips-to-crush-productivity-this-year/ I love love love, productivity. It is single-handily one of the most useful skills to master.

    • So true. I’ll check it out, thanks!!

  • Great tips. I’ve found that writing my goals down makes me much more likely to achieve them.

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed it! xo

  • Grizel S Gastelum

    You’re right about everything you post here! I support all of the tricks and I think I will start following them, to keep myself motivated about my goals writing them down.

    • Writing down my goals ALWAYS helps. Thanks for reading!

  • Such great tips! Let’s do this work!

    Zoe x | http://www.zoelinda.co.uk

  • vinma

    Great points! Often, the greatest stumbling block is simply to get started. Thanks for a motivational post!

  • Great tips! (Also, caffeine = my life, too!)

    Sometimes instead of writing a to-do list, I’ll make a already been done list to prove to myself that I am, in fact, a badass. It helps!

    • oh my gosh. I have never heard of this tip before and I LOVE IT!!!!!!

  • Fawn

    I recently switched to working out in the mornings. BEST thing I ever did. I agree with you that it is so motivational. Love your other tips as well!

    • Thanks so much for commenting and reading, Fawn! Get it, girl!