Feeling lazy? We all do it from time to time. Some days we can’t seem to pull ourselves up and get work done. Motivation eludes us and at the end of the day, we don’t feel so proud of ourselves. We wish that there is a secret formula that can help us motivate ourselves when we are feeling lazy and productive. How can we do this?
How can you motivate yourself when you are feeling lazy and unproductive?
Self-regulation is a form of emotional intelligence. It involves regulating our feelings, and taking control of our emotions before they take control of us. If you wait for motivation to come, it may never come to you, and this means you will waste day after day being lazy.
By learning self-regulation, you push yourself to get started with work even you feel you can’t. Many authors have shown that this is what separates amateurs from professionals. The ability to get started even when you can’t and the willpower to do the right thing, not giving in to your laziness is what gets them going.
To motivate yourself, don’t wait for motivation. Get started even when you don’t feel like it. This is what Steven Pressfield discusses in The War of Art.
Finding meaning in your life
Finding meaning in what you do will surely motivate you. If you love what you do, and you are passionate about it, it will give you a reason to wake up in the morning and get started on it.
In his book, A Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl shows that finding meaning saves us from depression. Commonly, laziness is caused by the feeling that what you need to do is not important.
For example, if you know you are supposed to write a paper, you wonder ‘uh, what for? It doesn’t bring any benefit into my life’. This lack of meaning and purpose makes you switch on Netflix and postpone what you need to do since it’s not that important to you.
However, when you find meaning in what you do, you have an internal drive to get it done because you want to benefit from the bigger picture.
Face your fear
Laziness and lack of motivation often lead to procrastination. I have written before on how we procrastinate because we are afraid. The task ahead of us is challenging and we are afraid of tacking it fearing that we will fail.
As a result, we avoid it for as long as possible and instead engage in tasks that are more fun, such as playing a video game or watching reality shows. To avoid procrastination, learn to face your fear. This involves getting started on the task even when it makes you uncomfortable.
Facing your fear and undressing the task will show the task for what it really is; it is not as scary as you think of it in your mind. This gets you started and before you know it, you are hooked and in the state of flow.
Create a routine and stick to it
I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp. – W. Somerset Maugham
Develop a routine that you stick to, every day, whether you are feeling lazy or not. Developing a routine saves you from having to motivate yourself every day, a task that we have seen is not easy.
When you have a routine, such as get up at 6, work out for an hour, have breakfast and be seated at your desk at 8 in the morning means that you don’t always have to convince yourself every morning that you need to get started.
Instead, the longer you are onto the routine, the more your body goes on autopilot and before you know it, you are seated at your desk every day at 8 and getting started on work. Your routine doesn’t have to involve you being an early bird.
Some people, especially parents, are productive at 10 at night after the kids have gone to bed. Either way, establish a routine and stick with it.
Developing good habits
Good habits transform your life positively. Have you ever noticed that once you pick bad habits you go downhill and make tens of other bad decisions?
For example, if you decide to stay up late and drink with your friends, you wake up with a hangover, feel like crap, choose to watch TV waiting to recover, feel bad about yourself and decide since the day is already going south, why not end it on a high note?
You eat a series of junk food intended to make you ‘feel better’ and decide to end the day with yet another set of drinks to end that awful day. Before you know it, you have a look of several bad ways which you have wasted.
The same thing happens when you pick good habits. Deciding to go to bed in time makes you refreshed in the morning. You decide since you feel so good why not take a jog? This makes you feel even better and you sit at your desk all pumped up.
Further, since you feel so wonderful, you don’t want to pump your body with the wrong kind of food so you make a home-cooked meal. At the end of the day, you are feeling so good about yourself and decide to sleep early so you can have another day just like that one. You see? Good habits breed other good habits and bad habits breed other bad habits.
Don’t aim for being busy
Let’s stop the glorification of busy- Guy Kawasaki
Sometimes we think being busy equates to being productive. We also take pride in how busy we are and yet at the end of the day we have nothing to show for it.
We think to be lazy and relaxing as a bad thing to the extent of using the phrase ‘I will sleep when I am dead’. To be productive, you have to be effective. Tim Ferris in The 4 hour work week and Cal Newport in Deep Work show that you can work for as little as 4 hours a day and be productive.
This is achieved by focusing your concentration on important work with minimal distractions, and getting the most out of this time. With this level of productivity, you can have sufficient time to do the things that you love such as relaxing with friends, watching your favorite shows or reading and even create time for your hobbies.
Consume good content
I have read some wonderful books that have helped me with self-discipline. To stop being lazy, you need to be self-disciplined. However, this does not come easy, and you may need a combination of theories and researches to show you the different ways to become self-disciplined.
Further, watch this Ted Talk on Youtube about procrastination, what exactly happens when you are procrastinating and how you can deal with it. Consuming such content will help you structure your life such that you don’t give in to laziness and become productive in getting the important work done.
No time to read? Check out summaries of these books on Blinkist.