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4 productive ways to set yourself up for having better ‘bad’ days (because they will happen)

I’m writing from the in-between. I’m not doing great, sure, but I’m not doing bad. I’m not staring at the wall blankly, for example, which is something I’ve recently come to appreciate not doing. I’m sitting here, typing these words . . . I’m functioning. History suggests that in a couple of days I’ll be in a pretty good place.

That’s been the cycle since March 2020. The past couple of years have been hard on all of us, in different ways. I have a lot of work to do on myself, and I intend to get help and do that work. We all should. But I wager more than a few people reading this article are traveling along their own personal good/in-between/bad spectrum. And because we’re living through a real-world disaster, and not a movie disaster, we all need to keep doing our jobs in the meantime.

Since we’re all going to be fluctuating wildly on the good/in-between/bad spectrum for the foreseeable future, we might as well plan around it.

Use your good days to plan for the bad ones

When I have an unproductive day, I feel bad about myself. When I have a productive day, I convince myself that every day will be like that from now on. Neither of those reactions is particularly helpful. So I try not to operate that way anymore.
One good day isn’t a sign that the bad days are over, but one good day is an opportunity. So now I try to use the good days to set myself up to function better on the bad ones. What does that look like? It’s going to depend on your job, of course, but here are a few rough categories:

You get the idea: Spend your good days setting stuff up so that things are easier on the bad days. This takes a certain amount of self-awareness. On the good days, you need to remember that the bad days are probably coming back, then commit to doing the work that will help you get through them.

This isn’t going to pull you out of your good/in-between/bad cycle, but using the good days to plan for the bad makes it all a lot easier to keep the momentum going. It’s helping me a lot, and I hope it helps you.

This article originally appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.