What To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At Work

You can generally depend your business to have a particular rhythm to it, once you’ve been at it long enough. Sure, there are the kinds of businesses where you can’t really have the same day-in, day-out predictability of so-called desk-jobs, but even then, when  you’ve gotten the hang of stuff, you develop the kind of insight and mind-set, and prepper skills that helps you handle the ups and downs that come with your chosen field.

In emergency situations, you may even had the foresight to have laid out back-ups and alternative, just in case. In the immediacy of things when surprises, mix-ups, or emergencies happen, you’d do well to practice on-field triage: attending to the salvageable and savable while assessing the ‘least injured’ — and checking the irrecoverable just to make sure.

Triage helps when you’re in the crunch. In non-crunch time, disciplined ‘triage’ is simple prioritization skills:  You do the important and helpful, and drop the unimportant and seductive. This lighter-hearted ‘triage’ can help you especially when bad days happen.

When you don’t have enough brainpower, focus or energy for the big interruption or disruption that suddenly happened on the scene, you can keep attending to the smaller things — check out Non-Zero Days at Reddit, starting from this legendary post by user Ryan01.


It doesn’t even have to be one dramatic big thing that lays into you. It could be a series of unfortunate events that somehow defied all human expectation of possibility and led an ant-trail of irritation to your doorstep. It doesn’t even have to be fire ants, just regular ants. Enough ants to totally suck the joy out of your day.

There actually doesn’t even have to be ants. Rates for anxiety and other mood disorders have sky-rocketed, and if you suffer from them,  even regular things can be enough to throw you out of the mindset necessary for doing what you need to do, or at least makes the process as jarring as possible.

There can be a lot of reasons why you can’t do something you were planning to accomplish: Your brain is not cooperating. It’s the weather, or the internet, or  you’re feeling under the weather,  there’s a problem with your outsourcing or your suppliers, your customers, something happened. Something happened, and it’s enough to stop certain planned actions in their tracks.

Something happened and now you feel you can’t do anything. Your energy, your momentum, your promising day just went down the drain.


Productivity is but one facet of entrepreneurship. Self-care is another. Remember, you are your best asset. The day isn’t over if something didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. You can still make something out of it.

The show must go on.
If it’s a physical thing that doesn’t merit a trip to the hospital, do what you can. Don’t do “all the things!1!!” It’s no good to bring your business forward when it’s at the expense of your health. Ignoring a cold can lead to something worse if you overwork yourself. Restrict yourself to light duty.

If it’s a business-related issue, gauge the situation carefully. You can’t do anything about acts of God or Mother Nature but keep yourself safe. Look at the factors you can and cannot control, and take steps from there.

Delay, cancellations, revisions, bad feedback, etc. each have their merited, appropriate response. Don’t let the situation suck you in and inflate vague fears into nightmare proportions. A calm assessment is better than angry stomping and loud noises.

Contain the situation, and focus on what still needs doing, whether it’s delivery, deadlines, back-ups, etc. There is no need to let the one thing spill over the rest of your day, or to let it eat at your momentum.

Doing One Thing to bring your business to the next step:

  • Whether it’s crafting and finalizing the script for that video you’ve been promising,  or ensuring that all hosting and domain name fees have cleared payment and are good for the foreseeable future.

Doing One Thing to bring yourself a step further in enhancing your skills:

  • Watching a tutorial video on how do do something you’ve been nervous about tackling.
  • Taking notes and applying yourself to the problem solving and applying it to the business, instead of just reading a case study

Doing One Thing that would help you provide a better experience for your customers:

  • Reaching out via newsletter to ask them what would make you a better service provider, or  what  would make your products better.
  • Listening to customer concerns which are under your control and acting on them to improve your service.


When you are unable to move forward, you can shift to mental activities like brainstorming.  This can get some prepping, but it can really help:

  • What little things do I do that help my business? How can I batch them?
  • What little things can I do if I am stalled in one particular high-value area and can’t push it due to unforeseen circumstances?

Take notes when you’re brainstorming this. Under stress, everything you complain about can be seeds for better ways to manage them in the future. You can use your bitter hindsight for a better time ahead of you.

When you can act on or fulfill one thing.
You may be stymied with an situation you can’t affect — say, a problem in the production line that is in the hands of the distributor, or unscheduled downtime, whatever.  Pull back and focus on the next thing: look at what needs to be done that you still can do.

You’re a business owner–there’s always something that needs attending to. It doesn’t have to be a big thing to matter; Big things are made of smaller things. Clean out a bunch of smaller things just closes loops for you and gets these small things out of the way.  From  getting more stamps to cleaning up your work space and filing your bills and important papers properly,  you make for a clean  start when the  snarl in your day becomes unstuck or resolves itself, one way or another.


Re-adjust your attitude.
Anxiety is a dirty rotten liar who tells you the world is ending because you couldn’t find a paperclip. If you find your heart fluttering in fear and self-loathing because of  the Day That Blew Up In Your Face,  you can do some  intentionally calming deep breathing exercise.

When anxiety floods your system, it can take a while for the flood to recede. And like in any flood, to save your self , you go to high ground and move away from the dangerous waters.

Move to high ground and let it change your perspective. Don’t let a problem today contaminate the rest of your life and twist you into a dark ruined future. Fear is virulent if you don’t keep calm. Keep what happens today to today. You can’t’ truly know what will really happen tomorrow, so you just have to get through today.

Count your blessings. Literally.
Remember the other parts of your life that are  good and well.
An attitude of gratitude  has many benefits — and you doing a positive inventory of your life keeps you from falling into a negative rut, one which can let you slide into giving up entirely and thus self-fulfilling a ruined day. Making a positive inventory can realign your intentions and charge you with energy to go and keep going.

Helpful link: The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

It’s not how bad the day is, but how good you still make it out of what remains. An attitude like that can mean more in the long run that robotically ticking things off on a to-do list.

Whether it’s a chain of unfortunate coincidences that derails you, or just a fog that comes out of nowhere, you can make a plan for days like this. You don’t have to stay stuck, and you can move around the stalled areas and keep going.

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