How To Be Productive With Depression

Needing some tips to be productive with depressed?

How often has it happened that your counselor has told you that you have to “retrain your brain” or “combat the symptoms”. While this is all true counselors- including myself- do not always give details on what that means. 

When a depressive episode is severe it can limit one to their bed, cause worthlessness, hopelessness, lack of hygiene and many more symptoms that limit productivity. Yet again no one is telling you how to be productive when you are depressed.

Related Post: How to help someone with depression

Allow me to alleviate some stress by informing you of some things you can do to ensure you are productive even in the face of depression. 


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Tip #1 How To Be Productive With Depression: Be Proactive

Know what you need to do the next time you get depressed instead of reacting after the fact. Although you take your medication as you should, you show to therapy and see your doctor routinely, there is more. There will still be a time when you may have an episode and you need a relapse prevention plan for when or if it happens.

Watch Jessica Gimeno’s video on How To Get stuff Done When You Are Depressed


Tip #2 How To Be Productive With Depression: First Things First

Set boundaries with yourself and prioritize to be most productive when depressed. Tell people “no” and limit access to yourself while you are in a vulnerable state. Although easier said than done, let your motivation be the success of the friendship or relationship.

The more you pour into others the less you have for yourself. Put yourself first by knowing which activities you absolutely need to do to remain productive while depressed. The best quote I have heard and used “If you can’t say no then your yes’s mean nothing”.

I know from day to day there are many task that need to be accomplished. However, you need to focus on what actually needs to be done in order to remain productive while depressed. Focus on assignments, hygiene and other task that are important and urgent.

Tip #3 How To Be Productive With Depression: Do The Hard Stuff First

As you think of the task you must get done, tackle the hard activities first to ensure productivity. Of the task that need to be completed identify which is the hardest, do that first! While depressed it can be difficult to tap into energy and motivation to get thing done.

Although not depressed, I too lack motivation, energy and do not want to get out of bed. What I noticed helped my clients- and myself- is getting up knowing the activities that need to be done and knowing I do not have to accomplish it all.

It is true that you need coping skills, therapy and medication. You also need a plan, boundaries, limited task and self care activities

What helps you when you need to be productive but are depressed?

21 thoughts on “How To Be Productive With Depression

  1. I had a hard time saying no at work, and would often find myself stressed and anxiety-ridden because of it. I wasn’t very confident so I felt like I had to do everything I could to get noticed. Over the years I allowed myself to be confident in my position and it helped me make better decisions over what needed my attention at work.

  2. First and second are great points, but I’d never guess #3! That’s an interesting approach. But I guess accomplishing the toughest task may provide the greatest confidence boost to a down day. Thanks for the post!

  3. Thank you so much – I love the “we forget to explain what we meant” and assumed you would know what we were talking about. And that’s so true for many situations of advice – it’s really easy you just need to … without ever explaining what it is or how to do it!

  4. This is such an important topic to address because so many people are depressed without realizing it. Those that do acknowledge their depression, see it as something that’s inescapable. It’s important to help empower people who experience depression.

  5. This is a great post. I don’t medicate for my depression but found this advice to be useful.
    Setting boundaries are so hard for me. This I need to work on.

    I find keeping a flexible schedule for my tasks and even alarms helps tremendously. When I have a depressive episode, I forget everything and then become anxious with how backed up I am. This helps me a lot.

  6. Great tips!! I especially love the one about doing the hard stuff first. Not only will it make the rest of the stuff seem that much easier, it’ll also help you feel more productive, confident, and proud of yourself!

  7. It’s really hard for me to stay productive when depressed. I think maybe I can do things to put me in a better mood though when it does happen. Like making sure my room is clean. Because when im depressed and laying in bed, even when I do think of something I could be doing I look around and it just all becomes overwhelming for me. Thank you for this article though!

    1. Thats important to know! That means you need to set more attainable goals for the day. Like brushing my teeth or bathing tonight.

  8. Thanks sharing. I have been working on #1 a lot lately. Knowing a relapse can come at anytime I want to be prepared.
    I actually do the opposite of #3 and focus on the simplest tasks first and celebrate the small wins. Some days it is just getting out of bed long enough to brush my teeth or shower.

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