Five Tips to Help You Overcome a Difficult Day at Work

A difficult working day is one in which there's a lot to do and little time to do it in. Or, there aren't so many tasks, but they're extremely complex and demanding. Here are five simple tips to help.
Five Tips to Help You Overcome a Difficult Day at Work
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 14 June, 2022

A difficult day at work can be enough to ruin anyone’s mood. We’re talking about the kinds of situations that require good organization and a cool head if you don’t want to end the day on the verge of collapse. Because, sometimes, workdays can suddenly get complicated. On the other hand, you might know in advance that you have a difficult day ahead. In the latter case, there are ways you can prepare yourself to face the onslaught and come out ahead.

To cope with a difficult day at work, you must organize yourself well, concentrate, and maintain a reasonable attitude. On this basis, let’s look at five tips to help you ensure that your problematic days don’t become even more complicated.

Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on .”

-Frederic Chopin-

1. Eliminate noise and multitasking

On a busy working day, you must eliminate any distractions as much as possible. Noise is the first issue. More particularly, cellphone notifications and irrelevant calls. In fact, it’s best to turn off your phone and only turn it on at lunchtime or the end of the day.

In addition, multitasking isn’t a good idea when you have complex or urgent matters at hand. You should focus on your tasks, based on your proposed goals. This is no place for multitasking. Carry out your tasks one by one, staying alert at all times.

Stressed woman at work
Our brains aren’t prepared for multitasking. Ideally, you should focus on a specific task in order to perform more effectively.

2. Divide the day into blocks

It’s best to plan your day in advance. Firstly, define exactly what you’re going to do. Then, establish the elements that make up this activity. For example, if you must prepare an end-of-month report, the elements would be the different sections of the report.

When you have the task clear in your mind, you can propose work blocks that coincide with each of the elements. No block should exceed two hours but should be enough time to finish each element or a percentage of it. By doing this, you’ll make progress in a more organized way and will feel more motivated.

3. Divide up your tasks

One tip for getting through a difficult day at work is to manage your time efficiently. This equates to completing your activities in a reasonable amount of time, allowing for rest breaks. Without the latter, you’ll find it difficult to achieve the former.

The best way to do this is by dividing your activities into small sections. The Pomodoro technique is extremely useful in these cases. It involves focusing on the activity for 25 continuous minutes and then resting for five minutes. Every time four cycles are completed, take a break for 15 minutes. This helps regulate your available energy.

4. Put off other tasks for later

Just because you have a heavy work day doesn’t mean that the world around you will stop and allow you to work, uninterrupted. Indeed, the fact that you have crucial activities to carry out doesn’t eliminate the appearance of other small tasks that have nothing to do with what you’re trying to do.

It’s extremely important that you clarify your objectives at the beginning of the day. You need to know exactly what activities you must perform and give them priority at all times. If you find other tasks get in the way, it’s best to ignore them completely.

Woman working
Making a list of pending tasks to do later is highly recommended.

5. Focus on compliance, don’t try to be the best

Ideally, you should do your job really well, but on a difficult work day, this may not be possible. Indeed, this isn’t the time to bring out your inner perfectionist. If you do, you run the risk of dwelling for too long on the details and having to rush at the end.

Your central purpose should be to fulfill your duties, not to win a medal for doing so. Try and complete each task feeling satisfied for simply having done it. Perhaps, later, you’ll have time to polish or perfect it, but for now, just focus on completing it.

A difficult day at work will become much easier if you apply these simple tips. At the end of the day, you’ll feel satisfied that you managed to do everything you planned. Of course, you might be rather tired, but you’ll have overcome a difficult challenge.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Buser, T., & Peter, N. (2012). Multitasking. Experimental Economics15(4), 641-655.
  • Navarrete, C. M. (2017). Jornada laboral y tecnologías de la info-comunicación:” desconexión digital”, garantía del derecho al descanso. Temas laborales: Revista andaluza de trabajo y bienestar social, (138), 249-283.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.