10 Productive Things to Do When You Just Don't Want To Do Anything

by - February 21, 2018

Anyone else riding the motivation struggle bus lately? Winter is just not my jam. Kentucky has gotten some gorgeous snow, but the cold temperatures and short days have me wanting to stay cuddled under blankets all day!

For so many people, the beginning of the year is where they kick their butt into gear. In this season of resolutions, people are starting new healthy habits, getting back to the gym, eating clean and taking practical steps to reach big dreams! But I have to be honest with y'all... my productivity has been so low I haven't even made one 2018 goal!

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can't muster up the motivation to accomplish anything productive. I just don't want to do anything! Who else has been there?! Unfortunately, life doesn't stop just because I'm feeling lazy, and my to-do list keeps on growing.

If you're in a spot where you just can't seem to find the motivation to be productive, here are a few tips I've found helpful to kick my own butt into gear! Let's do this!

Write Out Your To-Do List

I have this weird habit of getting super overwhelmed at the number of things I need to get done, but instead of writing everything out, prioritizing them, and making a solid game plan, I just keep them all jumbled up in my head. I don't know where to start and what to do first, so I keep switching tasks halfway through. Nothing productive about that! It is so worth it to take even just 5 minutes and write down every task bouncing around in your mind. It clears up so much mental space to get them down on paper! Then you can prioritize. When I'm really struggling with motivation, I always think that starting with the quickest item is the best idea. Knock out a task or two, and the satisfaction that comes from finally crossing them off the list is more motivation you need to keep going!

Clean for 10 Minutes 

Sometimes, I can't find the energy to accomplish anything on my list because I'm so distracted by my messy home or workspace. When it all gets too overwhelming, it helps to do a blitz cleaning. Set a timer and start tackling that clutter, beginning with your workspace and the area surrounding. This is not the time to deep clean your kitchen if you're needing to get things done in your office! When the timer is up, it's time to get back to your to-do list! Don't get sucked into cleaning all day... which I'm sometimes tempted to do if cleaning feels more fun than the real things I need to tackle! But most of the time, a cleaner space helps me feel like I have a cleaner mind, and I am more capable of focusing on the task at hand.

Get dressed up

Whenever I was feeling less than confident on test day in college, I always did my makeup and put on a dress. I do the same thing now on days I'm under the weather but still have to head into work. Something about feeling a little fancy always gives me a major boost in self-esteem and motivation! If you're having a low energy day, take a few extra minutes to do your makeup and put on an outfit that makes you feel like a boss. Sometimes you gotta fake it till you make it! Feeling confident and put together on the outside, as superficial as it may seem, really can help get those productivity juices flowing!

Get Some Sleep

Are you lacking motivation because you're just dang tired? When's the last time you got enough sleep?! When our task list feels overwhelming, it can be tempting to stay up late to knock some more things out. And even when we try to sleep, stress can keep us from really sleeping well. But the truth is when we're tired, we aren't at our best! When we're taking care of our bodies, we're taking care of our minds too. If you're struggling to focus and get anything done, maybe a quick power nap or an early bedtime is what your mind needs to recharge and refocus.

Eat a Protein-Filled Snack

When I get hungry, it doesn't take long for my energy to fade. Have you been eating well lately? Enough rest is so important for our bodies and minds to function at their best, but the fuel we put in our bodies matters too! When you need a pick me up, try to find a snack packed with protein (instead of that extra cup of coffee that will leave you feeling worse when you crash). Some of my faves are an apple with peanut butter, some veggies and hummus, a lunch meat and cheese roll-up, or a couple hard boiled eggs! 

Let in Some Natural Light

When I'm feeling really stuck, unmotivated, and overwhelmed, it can feel like all the walls are closing in! It only gets worse when it's winter and the days are so short! Even if it's a little cloudy, take advantage of what natural light there is by opening up the blinds, and even open the windows if the weather permits! Sunshine does so much for our moods! It's a source of Vitamin D, which helps fight depression, increase productivity, and improves the quality of our sleep (source).

Get Active

Exercise is often the first thing to get cut out of my schedule if my to do list is feeling too long, and that is such a shame! There is such a therapeutic effect to working out. By engaging our bodies, we give our mind a chance to breathe. If you are really struggling to get your brain moving, try getting your body moving first! It doesn't have to be extreme - just take a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood or find a good yoga video on YouTube. I bet all those endorphins will leave you feeling recharged and ready to go!

Do Something Nice for Someone Else

I've found that sometimes my lack of motivation and overall "meh" mood is caused by being too internally focused... and when I get stuck in these introspective moods, it's never about positive things, is it? It's always about how much I have to do, how I'm failing at getting them done, how I wish life situations would change, and other generally sucky things. Break out of the negative inner dialogue by focusing on someone else! Go out of your way to do something extra for your spouse, buy the Starbucks of the person behind you in line, compliment a stranger on their outfit if you like it, send a friend a text that you're thinking of them on. It doesn't have to be complicated! But one act of kindness towards someone else, that has no direct benefit to our own selves, can be enough to shift our perspective and refocus our minds on what really matters!

Journal Your Thoughts

How are you honestly doing right now? Are you anxious, overwhelmed, afraid? Sometimes our inability to focus can be the result of stress and anxiety. When we're facing what feels like a mountain, it can be hard to turn our attention to anything else. Those feelings and fears can creep up and take such a toll on our energy. I find it's so much easier to refocus my mind on the tasks I need to accomplish if I can vent, even just for a few minutes. Give yourself a few minutes to take account of all those thoughts. Write them out in a journal or even in a note on your phone. Recognize them, put words to those feelings, and then set them aside. Acknowledging that dialogue running through the back of your mind can remove some of its power, giving you more mental space to focus on what really needs your attention!

Give Yourself Grace

We all have limits. At the end of the day, we are only human and only have 24 hours in each day. No matter how hard we try, we will never reach perfection, even when it comes to our to do lists! But in reality, the only person expecting perfection from you is you. That is so unfair to ourselves! Instead of working to accomplish everything, make it your goal to do the best that you can. Instead of berating yourself for the things you didn't get done, celebrate what you did accomplish and give yourself grace for things left to do. I practice giving myself grace often by rephrasing my self-talk (you know, all those lovely things you say about and to yourself inside your own head). At the end of a hard day, my inner critic is usually ranting something like "You didn't do enough! You have to work harder!" When I hear that ugly voice, I take control of my thoughts by giving myself a new script. Instead, I say "I didn't do everything, but I did the best that I could. Tomorrow is a new day and I will do my best again. For now, I am allowed to rest." This practice can be such a game changer! Give yourself permission to fail and permission to kick butt tomorrow!

We all have those days where we just don't want to do anything... where camping out on the couch watching Netflix feels like all the energy we can muster. And sometimes that is the perfect way to spend a day! But for those days when the show must go on, hopefully one of these little tricks can help you get moving and stay motivated! It might be hard, but I know you got this! You can do it, you just have to start!

What are your favorite ways to jump start your energy and motivation? Share your tried-and-true method with us in the comments down below!

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