Depression is a motivation destroyer.
It can take you from ready to take on the world, to not able to get out of bed far too quickly.
I would know, I had severe depression for a number of years.
But in that time I was still able to get a lot done.
I mastered a house renovation, worked (not all the time, but the majority of the time), finished my degree and started this blog.
Plus I still did that day-to-day living stuff like showering and eating, which is a pretty massive task in itself when you have depression.
So how did I do it? Without imploding in a crying mess all the time…
That’s what I’m talking about today in this post, and I really hope these tips can help you carry on striving and working towards your dreams even when you have depression.
But first, get the exact daily self-care routine I used to beat depression for good…
… so you never have to feel like your mental health is controlling you and your life again.
Because you can improve your mental health and happiness with just a couple of simple tweaks to your day — even if doing day-to-day tasks like cooking dinner seems impossible right now.
But it’s those simple tweaks that are precisely what you’ll learn when you download the daily self-care checklist I used to overcome depression.
Look though, I get it. I tried everything under the sun to beat my depression and if I had stumbled across this on the internet I probably wouldn’t have believed it either.
But yesterday was a struggle, right? So what have you got to lose? Maybe the things that worked for me will work for you too, and how incredible would that be…
Just click the button below to grab your copy and get ready to take back control of your mental health, so you can wake up each morning with a smile on your face (or at least not drenched in a sea of panic, overwhelm and sadness like you’re currently feeling…)
PLUS, when you sign up today you get the BONUS planning your day printables (a $13 value) — the method I used when I was neck-deep in depression to still get everything done each day, overwhelm-free.
1 – Accept where you are right now
This seems an odd one but unless you can honestly take stock of your current situation and accept it, it’s very difficult to work with it.
For a good few months, I didn’t want to accept that I had depression. This meant I didn’t get the treatment I needed or put things into place to help myself when the worst of the depression hit.
So accept your current limitations, but also accept your current strengths (and there will be strengths that come with depression) because in order to keep moving forward in life you need to know where you are now.
2 – Have a plan and be prepared for when depression next hits
Because let’s face it, if you have depression it will be back, so it’s important to be prepared and ready to deal with it.
When you are feeling good, put things in place that will help when depression hits. Things like routines, meal prepping and good planning.
This means that when you’re feeling your worst certain things in life won’t get left and so you will feel less overwhelmed.
But also prepare yourself that there will be things you can’t do. For me working in an office was a big one, mainly because I’m so introverted. So make sure you have a plan to be able to drop those things that you just can’t do when depression hits.
All that looked like for me was giving myself permission to call in sick if it was a particularly bad day, but giving myself permission to do that when I was well made all the difference when I was feeling my worst.
3 – Try and keep your routine going as much as possible
Okay now, we’re moving onto more productivity based tips for when you’re depressed.
My biggest advice is to try and keep your routine as close to normal as possible because your brain will find safety in those routines.
And routines and habits also mean you can get things done without really having to think about them. It makes stuff like showering and eating so much easier.
If you don’t currently have routines in your life then now’s the time to implement them!
4 – Keep up with basic living tasks
This one kind of goes with the tip above, but keeping up with your basic living tasks, like showering, will go a long way towards keeping you productive when you have depression.
I mean, how productive do you feel on a good day when you haven’t showered and you’re still in your PJs?
5 – Plan well
Look, even the happiest, most productive person needs to plan to keep their life ticking over and organized.
In fact, I would argue that one of the reasons the happiest, most productive person is happy and productive is because they’ve planned their life well.
They know exactly what they need to get done and they’ve ensured they have whitespace on their calendar for rest and relaxation.
But when you have depression it’s even more important that you plan well. That you give yourself plenty of time to get things done before deadlines and that you know what’s coming up in your life.
Life is bloody overwhelming when you’re depressed. Keeping your life organized is a solid way of stopping that overwhelmingness from getting out of control.
6 – Prioritize
This one really ties in with the first tip, accepting where you are.
Realistically, if you have any illness, be it mental or physical, there will be bad days where you can’t get everything done that you would like to.
In fact, even for people who have no illness whatsoever, there are days where their to-do list is far longer than the hours they have available.
And so learning to prioritize is key.
Everything might feel like it’s super urgent and must be done today, but it really isn’t.
Consider what will truly happen if it doesn’t get done today; if no one dies and you’ll still have clean clothes for tomorrow then prioritize accordingly, that item could be left if needed.
Also, consider asking yourself what your future self will really need (this is where the clean clothes thing comes in). For example, if tomorrow you have to wear a shirt then you’re going to need to clean and iron that shirt today so that to-do must be prioritized.
7 – Remove distractions
Honestly, most of these tips actually apply whether or not you have depression.
But distractions are your worst nightmare if you’re trying to get anything done, particularly if you’re depressed and so easily overwhelmed.
So turn your phone on silent and flip it over so you can’t see the screen, switch off your email notifications on your computer and clear your desk of distracting things (like general mess and clutter!)
Basically, if you know something will distract you, remove it, whatever that is.
Who cares what people think, just make the environment you have to get something done in is as easy to focus in as possible.
8 – Say no
I keep talking about reducing overwhelm because I personally found that was one of the biggest things stopping me from getting stuff done when I was depressed.
So saying no to things, commitments, obligations, tasks, and to-dos, has to be something you learn to do.
Even when you’re feeling good, over-commitment will cause some serious anxiety so be realistic when someone asks if you can do something and say no if you know that’s going to be too much on your plate.
And trust me, once you’ve said no a couple of times people will respect your time and energy a lot more and will stop trying to palm stuff onto you…
9 – Make decisions
Depression can really do a number on your self-confidence and that means making decisions can become super hard because you’re constantly second-guessing yourself.
So you need to start making decisions in your day-to-day life that you feel happy and confident with, tiny decisions such as choosing pasta or rice for dinner.
I know these silly little choices feel just that, silly. But feeling confident in those smaller decisions will mean when a big one comes around it won’t be so difficult to make your choice and you won’t be racked with “did I make the right choice” anxiety for weeks after.
Plus, if you don’t make decisions quickly, it’s very hard to get a lot of stuff done and stay productive because there are always plenty of decisions to be made in life.
10 – Done is better than perfect
As an A* type of person (read perfectionist control freak) this is a concept I really struggled with.
But it’s a concept you have to embrace if you’re still going to get stuff done when you have depression.
Because when you’re going through a bout of depression you’re not going to be on your a-game, like it’s virtually impossible.
Yet these things have still got to be done.
So forget them being done perfectly to A* standard and be content with B- work. Most people won’t even notice the difference, that’s the sad truth!
And those that do, well they’re just going to have to get over it because right now you have bigger fish to fry.
11 – Make tasks easier
Now before you get all uppity and start saying things like “there are no shortcuts” and “a job worth doing is a job worth doing well” I want to make it clear, I’m not suggesting you do a bodge job to make it easier for you.
What I’m actually suggesting is the same thing that helps major procrastinators finally stop procrastinating and start doing what they need to do.
Split the task down into its tiniest parts and then just focus on that very first part rather than the whole task.
So, for example, I find unloading the dishwasher super overwhelming (no idea why).
But if I split the task down into the tiniest steps possible and only focus on those in my mind until I’ve done that step, and then focus on the next tiny step, it completely takes the overwhelm out and makes the task super easy.
So that would look like:
1 – Walk over to the dishwasher
2 – Open dishwasher
3 – Pull out the bottom draw
4 – Get plates out
5 – Put plates away
6 – Get saucepans out
7 – Put saucepans away, etc, etc
See how each task is almost ridiculous in its tininess, but that’s what makes it so easy to complete because it’s just one tiny, silly step at a time.
12 – Move your body
I’m not going to spend too long on this because I think we all know how important getting some exercise in is to being productive.
Don’t overthink it, just get out of your head and move your body.
Go for a walk in nature, hit the gym, dance around your living room. Just do something, trust me it will help.
13 – Ask for help
There is likely going to be a time you will have to ask for help. Even without depression, we all need help at some point in our lives.
There is no shame in asking for help and in fact, by asking for help when you need it you are showing others that they don’t have to do everything single-handedly (like our society suggests).
It’s time to make it okay to ask for help.
BONUS – Schedule in whitespace and chill time
If you really implement these tips it should significantly help you get more done, depression or no depression.
However, no matter how many productivity tips you implement if you aren’t giving yourself a chance to rest, relax, recharge and have fun then you just aren’t going to be motivated to do anything.
After all we need a prize for all our efforts, right?
And chilling and downtime is the best prize there is.
So take a break and do something fun. Your productivity will thank you for it.
Being productive when you have depression is hard.
There’s no getting around that.
But it is possible.
You can still achieve incredible things, go after your dreams and hit those impossible goals.
But you also need to give yourself grace because sometimes you won’t get everything done, or even anything done.
Sometimes your to-do list won’t have anything crossed off it for days.
And that’s okay.
No matter how much or how little you get done you are still so worthy.
How great you are has nothing to do with your achievements, productivity or ability to power through when you’re unwell.
Just by being, you are incredible and worthy, remember that.
Don’t forget to grab the free daily self-care routine I used to beat depression for good
If you struggle to prioritize yourself and the self-care you need to recover from depression then this printable self-care checklist could be just the thing for you.
Click the button below to grab your copy and get ready to feel in control of your mental health once more.