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6 Ways to Get Motivated When You Feel Like Doing Nothing

6 Ways to Get Motivated When You Feel Like Doing Nothing

Even the most ambitious, motivated people occasionally have difficulties getting things done. The good news is that we can often discover why we’re in a slump. Even better, there are ways to get out of the slump and get motivated again.

Here’s 6 ways to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing.

1. Figure out why you’re in a slump.

Here are some of the reasons you may be in a slump:

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  • You’re dreading something you know you need to do. You’re procrastinating getting things done because you are totally loathing an upcoming task.
  • You’re tired. You’ve been lacking good nutrition, sleep, exercise, or have been ill and overall don’t feel well.
  • You’re lacking confidence. You are scared to get out of your comfort zone and do something.
  • You’re in the middle of a project. You’ve gotten past the excitement at the beginning, and you’re not yet near the end. You’re in the difficult part – the middle.

2. When you’re dreading something, make it almost impossible to NOT do the task.

For example, if you know you want to workout in the morning, try placing your workout clothes next to your bed so they’re the first thing you see when you wake up. Also, call a friend and make plans to meet them at the gym in the morning. Having an accountability partner will increase your likelihood of success.

3. When you’re tired, take care of your body.

Some days, you might need rest. Other days, your body might need exercise. Some days, you just may need to get away from your desk and get some fresh air. Think about how your habits have been recently. Have you been getting adequate rest? Have you been choosing healthy foods and beverages? Have you had a recent illness that has left you feeling rundown? Think about how you’ve been treating your body. Taking great care of your body may help you get out of your slump.

4. When you’re lacking confidence, think about WHY you’re doubting your capabilities.

Are you struggling with negative thinking? Has there been a recent negative comment or event in your life that has been bothering you? Are you comparing yourself to other people? When you’re struggling with negative thinking, give yourself a compliment, or do something fun to rejuvenate your joy.

5. When you’re in the middle of your journey, persevere.

When you set out to achieve a big goal, it’s usually pretty easy to be very motivated at the beginning. At the beginning, you think about the end result, and you are full of anticipation and enthusiasm. It’s also pretty easy to be motivated at the end of a long journey. Once the end is in sight, the excitement of seeing the finish line can propel you forward.

In my opinion, the middle of the journey is usually the hardest. In the middle, the initial excitement has diminished, but you haven’t gotten close to your goal yet. In the middle, you realize exactly how much time and effort is required to complete your journey. You get frustrated and frequently face the difficulty of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward.

In the middle, keep thinking about your “why.” What are the personal, meaningful, and strong reasons you wanted to achieve your goal in the first place? Oftentimes, remembering our “why” can help give us a boost of motivation when we’re in a slump. Also, remember what Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Keep moving when you’re in the middle. Commit to taking daily actions that move you closer to your end goal, even if they’re extremely tiny actions. Just keep moving.

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To learn more, check out this article about getting through the middle.

6. Remember that the slump won’t last forever, and take action immediately to start getting out of it.

Start moving forward with tiny little steps. Remember that perseverance can make a huge difference in your success. Remember that success is a wild journey with many bumps and bends in the road, and not typically the straight line that people envision. Remember that moving forward when you’re not feeling motivated helps you push through your fears, get out of your comfort zone, and win the mental battles you have with yourself. Each step you take during the difficult times helps you feel more confident and capable, and gives you the momentum to continue to move out of your slump.

Any time you set out to achieve something in your life, you will face resistance. That resistance can leave you feeling unmotivated and cause you to sink into a slump. However, pushing through the resistance and taking action to get out of your slump will help set you up for long-term success. When you realize you really can get yourself motivated on your bad days, you will know in the future how to get yourself through additional rough times.

Everyone has the occasional slump. Recognizing the cause of your lack of motivation, and taking action to quickly get out of your slump will help minimize your down time and maximize your success.

Featured photo credit: Looking Back/Dextroannie via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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