Maintaining Healthy and Productive Work Habits -- Even When You Don’t Have The Energy

By Kaylin R. Staten

Here at Hourglass Media, we love feeling productive. We’re at our best when we’re juggling many projects on limited stress and an ultimate caffeine-filled beverage. We love routines, but we also love how the public relations profession and our company culture is multi-faceted. We could be working an event one day and then spend the entire next day in our writing bubble.

What happens on those days when we just don’t have it, though? Unfortunately, those days are peppered throughout weeks when we’re meant to be more out of our introverted shells, not under the weather and motivated beyond belief. Let’s face it, there are just some days we want to spend the day on the couch binge watching the latest Netflix or Hulu show while cuddling with our furbabies and eating our favorite snack.

How can you establish healthy and productive work habits on a consistent basis -- no matter your mood? Here are five ways we use #behindthehourglass:

SMART Goal Setting

In a previous blog post, we outlined SMART goal setting. Make sure your goals and objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. When you have a clear focus, you can structure your days accordingly. You can take small (or large, depending) steps each day to ensure that you are meeting your company’s goals and objectives. When you see light at the end of the tunnel, it makes it easier to do even the most mundane tasks at hand. We focus on three priorities for the day. Once those are met, other items are added to the workflow. The three priorities are the bare minimum for each day.

Time Management

All of us have days where our productivity is measured in social media posts and Internet surfing. Our smartphones keep tabs on when and where we go on our phones, and it’s easy to set individual restrictions through apps like Space. We use AirTable to keep track of our project pipeline and other internal processes. There are times I will set my phone stopwatch or alarm for 30-minute and one-hour increments at a time to focus on client work and other Hourglass projects. I physically block out time on my Google Calendar to remain organized. While the overwhelm is still very much alive, this structure has helped to keep the behind-the-scenes items more organized and manageable.

Take Breaks

Take breaks! Come up with something that works for you. Take a break each hour at the top or bottom of the hour for 10-15 minutes. Use the restroom, grab some water, chat with a co-worker, play a cell phone game, text your S.O. Do whatever you want to do in that time span. Return to your work and work for the next 45-50 minutes. I’m a binge worker, so I set unrelenting high standards for myself, such as, “I will finish this entire four-page document and then take a break.” I like to work until completion and THEN take a break. Sometimes, when we are struggling to finish a task, we lose our perspective and best work.

Eat and Exercise

This goes hand in hand with the taking breaks recommendation, but it’s vital to eat on a consistent schedule while you’re working. You don’t want your energy levels to plummet because your sugar levels decreased because you wanted to eat for the first time at 3 p.m. Choose healthy snacks and breakfast/lunch options. Have coffee to kick start your morning but choose green tea in the afternoon to help you past your slump. You can apply this to your routine if you don’t have a 9-to-5 schedule, too! Try to make time to exercise, too, when you can fit it into your schedule. Take a walk, do some yoga, go to the gym after work. Even if you don’t feel productive, eating well and exercising could boost your motivation. Your health is a wonderful asset. (It’s one of the items we outlined in our working from home blog post.)

Find Inspiration

Whether you work from home, at an office or in the field, bring something along with you that inspires you. This could be a photo of a loved one on your desk, a fountain pen in your favorite color or a knick-knack that reminds you of a city you love. When you’re in a size haze or creative funk, having an inspirational item around can help you. I’m a collector, so my desk and hutch are treasure troves of my favorite things: photos, hourglasses, snowglobes, Leia Organa and Daenerys POP! figures, books, my mantras graphic, a lava lamp and more. Create a space that feels like your own. You can also use your break time to find inspiration online, in a book or by having a conversation.


Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.