In this post: I’m sharing the real reasons why you lack motivation, as well as tangible action steps you can take when you find yourself procrastinating. Learn how to get things done when you have absolutely no motivation.
How To Get Things Done When You Have Zero Motivation
Hi girls, how are you today?
One of my personal pet peeves is when people say they can’t ‘find’ the motivation to get things done.
The thing is, there is nothing to find.
Motivation isn’t something that hides when you need it, rather it is something that you cultivate. It is a mindset to keep going when things get tough and not to let the struggles of life (or even excuses) get in your way.
When you blame this lack of motivation for not taking action, you’re only using it as a justification to procrastinate.
Whether it’s something you need to do or something you want to do, it’s easy to put it off until the last minute if you have the wrong mindset.
Procrastinating may be the easy way out, but it’s also the most stressful way to live your life.
That’s because procrastination results in two types of stress:
1.Stress from the constant nagging thought in the back of your mind that tells you to be productive and accomplish things
2. Stress from trying to finish something at the last minute
What most people don’t realize is that the time you spend THINKING about doing something often takes longer and causes more stress than actually doing it.
It all sums up to this: you’re stressed out as it is, girl, so why do you continue to make your life more miserable by procrastinating your affairs?
Before we start, what does get ‘get things done mean’?
Simply put, get things done means dealing with situations quickly and efficiently.
5 Reasons You Lack Motivation
Instead of blaming our lack of doing on lack of motivation, I found that what helps is to really dig into the root of the problem.
I’ve come to find that when I’m at my lowest motivation, it’s because of one of these things:
1. I’m overwhelmed or tired. I tried something many times and I failed. I’m exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. Burnouts are real, especially when you work for yourself or when you’re trying to make a side project work.
2. I fear a negative outcome. I’m worried that something will go wrong, I’ll embarrass myself, or it won’t live up to my standards. This is when self-doubt settles in our brain like poison ivy, stagnating us to take action.
3. I’m dealing with something emotionally. I’ve had a crappy day or I’ve received bad news. I want to crawl into a ball and not work on this project simply because my brain doesn’t seem to work, and focusing on a task is like a mission impossible.
4. I’m unsure of what to do. I’m unclear on the instructions for a task, I can’t decide which direction to go with a project, or simply I am overwhelmed with which step to take first.
5. It doesn’t feel important. I can’t find a clear reason WHY I should do this thing, so I distract myself and procrastinate instead with mundane activities that distract my mind from my concerns.
When you’re dealing with a lack of motivation, it’s important to A) figure out why you’re unmotivated and B) know how to move forward anyway.
Your Future Self
One of the simplest ways I’ve learned how to deal with procrastination is to consider how my choices today will affect my future self.
Often when we hear the term ‘future self’, we imagine ourselves in five or ten years’ time. As life is so unpredictable and things change almost daily, it can be hard to imagine what our lives will look like then, so this might not work as the best motivator.
A great tip I read from another blog is to, rather than thinking years ahead, think about yourself next week (or next month, if you prefer a bigger time-frame).
Asking what you can do today to make your life easier next Monday is a practical form of motivation and it works like magic.
Lately, I’ve been visualizing my future self whenever I don’t want to do something, or when I want to start creating better habits.
I ask myself: Will future Ana suffer from my inertia if I don’t take action today? How can my life be different if I take action rather than sitting around watching TV?
That means I HAVE to take responsibility for my actions should I want to achieve great things in my life (and I do). I have to push aside any temporary moment of satisfaction (aka watching Clone Wars or waking up late) to create less stress for myself in the future.
What about living in the moment? Isn’t that important?
Carpe Diem, they say.
I could argue with myself that watching Clone Wars is a good way to relax at that moment in time.
However, I have to be honest with myself and realize that a moment (or five episodes) of temporary relaxation will cause me more stress later down the road, simply because I am not getting things done.
Now when I realize that I’m procrastinating or avoiding something, I ask myself WHY I don’t want to do it.
This means that, rather than complaining about it and avoiding all responsibility, I put on my adult Ana Banana hat and try to get to the root of the problem.
How To Get Things Done
If my future self isn’t motivating me enough to get my bum out of the couch, here’s what I do when I find myself dealing with a specific lack of motivation:
1. When I’m tired or overwhelmed
When I’m tired, I’ll take a much-needed break to get my energy back (take a walk, a nap, or a long warm shower – unfortunately I don’t have a bathtub). If I can, I’ll do the tasks that take up the least amount of my energy first.
I create the mindset that must be more disciplined with myself and not use ‘tiredness’ as an excuse for too long. When I’m overwhelmed, I organize my to-do list and add task dates into my calendar to make things manageable.
2. When I’m unsure
I figure out the first, tiny little step I need to take. If I need guidance, I’ll push aside my pride and ask for help or clarification.
I recently read Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and in it, she explains the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks and this was eye-opening.
Basically, urgent tasks are things that should be done immediately and important tasks are ones we know must be done, but we procrastinate on getting them done as they don’t seem so impending. Try separating your tasks into categories and get things done.
Another tip I learned from the book Eat That Frog is that we should usually do the most important tasks first thing in the morning so that they are out of your way.
3. When I’m afraid
I check myself and dig into where my fears are coming from. Often times it’s perfectionism that is holding me back, so I remind myself that it is better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing at all. And I dive right into it.
4. When I’ve been knocked down
I give myself some time to process my emotions. I avoid making myself feel guilty for not working and do things I know will bring me back to a centered place. Instead of looking at how you’ve failed, try to look at the ways you’ve succeeded: what lessons you’ve learned from it, how to make things different this time around, and how you can turn things around in your favor.
5. When I don’t see the point
I ask myself why this doesn’t feel important or worth prioritizing. I revisit my vision list to see if what I’m avoiding serves a purpose for my bigger vision. If it doesn’t, I find a way to let the task or project go. If I can’t get out of it, I try to switch up my environment to make working on it at least a little more enjoyable.
How to focus and get things done at home or at work
Concentration refers to the mental effort you direct toward whatever you’re working on or learning at the moment.
It’s easy to become frustrated when you’re trying to concentrate but just can’t. This can lead to stress and irritation, which tends to make focusing on what you need to do even more of a distant dream.
To end this post, I will give your some useful tips on how to focus on how to get things done by improving your concentration skills.
1.Train your brain
By playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating. It is said that practicing any of the below for at least 15 minutes a day for 5 days a week is already a great way to improve your memory span.
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Crossword puzzles
- Word searches or scrambles
- Card memory games
2. Improve your sleep
How’s your sleep routine going? Do you stay up late? Do you get enough sleep?
Sleep deprivation can easily disrupt concentration, not to mention other cognitive functions, such as memory and attention. Regularly failing to get a good night’s sleep can affect your mood and performance at work.
Experts recommend adults aim to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Here are a few helpful tips to quickly improve your sleep:
- Turn off the TV and put away screens an hour before bed (we’ve talked about that earlier in this post)
- Keep your room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Wind down before bed with soft music, a warm bath, or a book.
- Aim to go to bed and get up around the same time each day (weekends included).
- Exercise regularly
3. Go for a walk in nature
If you want to boost your concentration naturally, try to get outside every day, even for just 15 to 20 minutes.
A simple short walk through a park can go a long way, I promise you. Just as well, sitting in your garden, your backyard can also help or even a bench on a street have heaps of benefits to the brain. In fact, any natural environment has benefits.
Another quick tip to be surrounded by nature more often is to have plants at your office, as these help increase concentration and productivity (as well as workplace satisfaction and air quality).
4. Give meditation a try
Meditation and mindfulness practices can offer multiple benefits. Improved concentration is only one of these.
Meditation does not just mean sitting silently with your eyes closed. Other forms of mediation include yoga, deep breathing, and affirmations, among many other activities that can help you meditate.
5. Take a break
When I was at uni and swamped with studies, group works, and endless projects, I found it crazy some of my friends who would simply take a break at the peak of our sessions. How could they simply stop the flow and take a break?
Coincidentally or not, those were the students with the best grades and seemingly the least amount of stress.
I learned it the hard way, after having panic attacks due to imposing too much work on my brain, that a break goes a long way.
How can taking a break from work or homework increase your concentration, you may wonder? This idea might seem counterintuitive, but experts say it really works.
Consider this scenario: You’ve spent a few hours on the same project, and suddenly your attention starts to wander. Even though it’s hard to keep your mind on the task, you stay at your desk, forcing yourself to keep going.
However, your struggle to focus just makes you feel stressed and anxious about not completing your work in time (such as what happened to me)
You’ve probably been there before too at one point or another.
Next time this happens, when you first feel your concentration drop, take a short mental break. Refresh yourself with a cool drink or nutritious snack, take a quick walk, or go outside and get some sun.
How do you get yourself motivated?
No matter the reason for your lack of motivation, always come back to your future self. That person IS you. You can’t escape the future, so why not make it less stressful for yourself?
Let me know below what are your favorite ways to work on how to make yourself get things done at home or at work.