How to be productive when you’re depressed

How to be productive when you’re depressed

Being productive when you’re depressed is no easy task, and sometimes it can be a total bear.   

Staying on top of your work, hitting deadlines, running errands—these tasks are hard enough when you feel well. But when you’re depressed, all those daily to-dos can be downright daunting.

Worse still, the further you fall behind, the more discouraged, despondent, and unmotivated you feel.

It’s a vicious feedback loop that can easily drive you into a deeper state of depression.

But depression doesn’t have to squash your productivity. In fact, finding ways to stay productive when depression visits can itself be a helpful way of managing your depression—and might just help you climb out of that funk you’re in for good.   

Here are 6 ways to stay productive when you’re depressed.

Work at the coffee shop

Depression is often accompanied by feelings of isolation and loneliness. But it can work in the other direction, too: frequent isolation from others or persistent feelings of loneliness can be major drivers of depression.  

During the pandemic, many of us learned this lesson the hard way. Forced to work from home and apart from others, we experienced the emotional challenges that come with prolonged solitude.

Many of us experience a major boost in productivity from simply being around others. The key word here is “around.” Even when you’re not actively interacting with others, simply being in the same space can help you be more productive.      

Give virtual coworking a try

Can’t get to the coffee shop? You’re not alone. It can be hard to get outside when you feel depressed. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave home to enjoy the benefits of coworking.  

Focusmate is a virtual platform designed to facilitate “distraction-free productivity.” Essentially, you schedule a 25- or 50-minute window of time to complete a specific task. It could be outlining an essay, replying to 4 work emails, reading a chapter in a book, or anything else you want or need to knock out.

Focusmate pairs you with another person via video call and the two of you spend the scheduled time working separately. The benefit comes from seeing and hearing (assuming you opt not to mute your mics) the other person working too. With both productivity and depression, knowing and feeling that you’re not alone in what you’re doing can pay huge dividends. I call that a win-win.

Better still, you get 3 free sessions per week on Focusmate, no credit card required. If you want to schedule more than 3 sessions per week, unlimited is just $5 a month.

I’m not an affiliate for this company, I promise. But I do believe the platform may be one of the best ways to be productive when you’re depressed. If you only try one of the strategies mentioned in this post, make it Focusmate.  

Find a productivity tool that works for you

Good organization is an important part of productivity even when you’re not depressed. But when you’re struggling with depression, it’s nothing short of essential.

Thing is, depression is almost always an exhausting experience, and it takes considerable energy to store all that you need to get done up in your head. So, when you’re depressed, having a system to keep track of all your daily tasks can be a real gamechanger.    

The good news is that there are countless options available when it comes to productivity tools. Apps like Evernote and OmniFocus are one way to go, but there are plenty of tech-free options that often work just as well, if not better. Personally, I’ve found the Bullet Journal method—BuJo, if you must— works best for me.       

Cut back on distractions

We all deserve breaks in our workday, but TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram can disrupt your productivity when all you want to do is “check out” from depressive thoughts and feelings.

If trying to stay focused without reaching for your phone isn’t working for you, apps like Flipd, AntiSocial, and Forest can help. These and other similar apps allow you to set reasonable limitations on your phone usage. Whether you choose to limit your daily screentime or lock your phone for a set period, your productivity will likely benefit.    

Zen out with some study music 

Sitting in complete silence isn’t always conducive to high productivity. That said, working at your dining room table as endless re-runs of Family Feud play in the background isn’t either.

The trick is finding a source of ambient noise that helps you get in the zone without completely zoning out. For me, it’s lofi hip hop mixes like the one below. But others swear by classical music, jazz, or even nature sounds.  

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Get into therapy

Productivity tools and hacks may only go so far when you’re depressed. If that’s the case, it may be time to seek the help of a third party. A therapist can help you address and resolve the root cause of your productivity struggles—the depression itself.

Never tried therapy or unsure how to get started? Check out our post on how to find the best therapist for you.   

Live in the Charlotte area? Our team of licensed therapists at Modern Era Counseling specializes in depression therapy. Contact us at 704-800-4436 or complete our contact form to get started today. You don’t have to go through depression alone!  

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