We all have days where we don’t feel like doing anything, even though there is a lot to get done. So how do we get things done when we just don’t feel like it?
We can get things done even when we don’t feel like it
Whether it’s a project at work or school or home, or workout or other physical exertion, or even something fun that we actually want to do, sometimes we face a task that we just don’t feel like doing. There are lots of reasons why that might be the case:
- We feel overwhelmed
- We feel intimidated
- We’re not feeling well or we’re just tired
Sometimes the answer is to take a break or defer the task. But if that’s not an option–if it’s something you really must do, or really want to do–how can we get past the obstacles we’ve created for ourselves and get things done even when we don’t feel like doing them?
1. Manage your mind
Remind yourself why you want to do it. How does it fit into your goals or your vision for your life? What benefit will you gain by doing it?
Remind yourself of the consequences if you don’t do it.
Remember nothing’s fun all the time. Even the things we enjoy have their difficult or tedious parts. Sometimes we just have to push through (I don’t have to like it; I just have to do it). To accomplish anything or even just to get the satisfaction of doing something we want to do, sometimes we just have to push past the resistance and start.
Change the story we tell ourselves about it: “I get to do this” vs. “I have to do this.” The words we choose matter. Remember we always have a choice. We might not like the consequences of some options, but it’s still our choice.
2. Set a deadline (for starting and for stopping)
If it’s a difficult task (physically or emotionally), maybe do it first thing, when your willpower is the strongest.
3. Change your location
Sometimes a change of scenery can inspire action. Take it outside? Take it to a conference room?
4. Eliminate distractions
Put away your phone; turn off the TV; disconnect from the internet
Author Chris Bailey notes in a blog post:
“According to research, about half of your time on the Internet is spent procrastinating, and when you’re not in the right mindset to work, that number can go through the roof. Disconnecting from the Internet—even for just an hour or two—will help you hunker down, waste less time, and become more productive when you just don’t feel like it.”
Use the restroom, have something to eat, get a drink of water (eliminating excuses that might interrupt your work once you sit down to begin).
Clear out your workspace, removing anything that might draw your attention from the task at hand. (But don’t let that clearing turn into a diversion of reorganizing–just put it all in a box and stick it in a closet or somewhere out of sight. You can organize later, after the important task is done.)
Don’t let less important tasks pull you away (keep a notepad handy to jot down a reminder so you can keep going)
5. Create your own incentive
Set up a reward — something you’ll enjoy after you complete the task. Do you want a cup of coffee? 30 minutes watching your favorite show? Chat with a friend (good incentive for an extrovert who needs to do a solitary task).
Sometimes the reward can be applied during the task. I have certain shows I watch when I’m on the treadmill as an incentive to actually work out.
In an article called 7 Ways to Get Things Done When You “Don’t Feel Like It”, the writer recommends different ways to incentivize ourselves to work toward our goals. One of his recommendations is a website called stikK, which provides incentive and accountability by letting you set up a commitment contract in which you essentially put money at risk–you commit a certain amount of money, state what your goal is, and choose what’ll happen to your money if you don’t achieve it (maybe it’ll go to a person you don’t like, or be donated to a charity or cause you don’t support).
6. Just start
Studies show that if we start despite a lack of motivation, the motivation will come. Find the easiest way in. Break it down into its tiniest components and tell yourself you’ll just spend 15 minutes doing one or two of the easiest components.
Sometimes the easiest way to start is to get ready. Gather the materials, equipment, etc. (“I’m not going to do it. I’m just going to set up for it.”) For example, if you have a document to draft: create the blank Word doc, set up the margins and the page numbering. If it’s a cleaning or repair project: get the tools out. For a phone call you dread: look up the number, write it down, and put it by your phone.
What do you think?
Is there something you need or want to do but haven’t done yet because you don’t feel like it? How (and when) will you get it done? Post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or email me.
Resources and Links
- 10 Ways to Get Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It – Jay Shetty
- 7 Ways to Get Things Done When You “Don’t Feel Like It”Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement
- 10 ways to stay productive when you just don’t feel like it – Chris Bailey
- 14 Ways To Get Things Done When You Don’t Feel Like It – aimlief
- Getting Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It: A Simple Guide – Intelligent Change
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Susan Sanders says
Great episode, Laura. I often say to my (reluctant) self – the work doesn’t need to be liked, it needs to be done.
Thank you for recording even when you don’t feel like it! We are here listening!
Diana Palecek says
Just the encouragement I needed, especially the advice about changing your self-talk. A suggestion I have, and try to employ, is to thoughtfully say “no” to certain commitments or tasks.
Thank you, Diana. I’m glad you found the episode worthwhile. And I agree–judicious use of “no” is an essential element to creating a meaningfully productive life!
Thank you for listening, and for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Anna Bean says
THIS. This is EXACTLY how I feel when I’m unproductive, and the types of tools and tips to help me get started. Thank you!
Thank you, Anna. I’m grateful to know you found the episode helpful!