Being lazy is a luxury many can’t afford, but feeling lazy is an epidemic. Most of the time, we feel like our lives are so full of to-do’s and responsibilities that we hardly have time to enjoy a cup of coffee. However, feeling lazy and having to drag yourself from task to task throughout every day is exhausting.
There is a difference between feeling lazy and lazy behavior.
The problem with feeling lazy is that it’s a symptom of a deeper problem. It doesn’t mean that we’re actively neglecting the things we need to do. Lazy feelings and a lack of general motivation is something we can actively fight against.
Because of this, I have compiled a list of quick ways to jump start your productivity to fight short-term laziness.
13 Quick Ways to Jumpstart Your Motivation When You’re Feeling Unproductive
When we start to feel yourself slinking into a pit of lazy feelings, there are some proactive steps we can take to get ourselves moving again. Choose one or several of these tips to use when you don’t feel like getting off the couch:
1. Have a Snack & Glass of Cold Water
Depending on what’s causing your laziness, some food and water might give you the energy you need to get moving.
My favorite quick energy boost snacks that don’t make me feel like taking a nap:
- A handful of nuts (especially almonds)
- Popcorn (of course with butter and a little salt!)
- Some fresh berries or a banana
- A piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter
Drinking some cold water is like a cold shower for your insides. It wakes you up and also ensures that your lack of energy is not being caused by dehydration.
2. Complete a Short Burst of Physical Activity
This is a tough one to start, especially if your laziness levels are really high. My go-to energy boosting exercises are bodyweight squats and lunges. Choose a low-effort exercise and give yourself a number of reps to complete.
I find that once I’ve gotten up off the couch and completed a set of squats, lunges, or both, I am not really likely to just sit back down. This is true for two reasons:
- Larger movements like squats or lunges usually cause my heart rate to rise and get my heart pumping. I feel a rush of warmth and my muscles feel primed to keep moving afterwords.
- I get to walk over to my to-do list and check off one of my daily exercise goals. Once I have checked something off, I usually glance at the rest of my list and decide to attempt another goal.
3. Put on a Productive Outfit
There is something about getting up and getting dressed that makes anyone feel a little more productive. Sure, there are days that are worthy of laying around in your jammies and casual clothes until bedtime.
If we want to take on the challenges of the day, we should get dressed to do our best. What that means depends entirely on what we want to accomplish. Putting on a “productive outfit” can give us the boost we need to get started.
4. Find a More Productive Environment
Much like the living room couch is the perfect place for a day of jammies and relaxation, a productive environment is a better fit for a day of getting things done.
Again, this completely depends on what you want to accomplish. (Don’t go sit in a coffee shop and hope you’re going to make progress on your kitchen upgrade project.)
Once I’ve gotten dressed and I’ve set up the right environment for progress, I am much more likely to work through the items on my to-do list.
For me, a productive environment includes the following features:
- Space for my laptop/notepad/tools on a clean surface
- Bright lighting (either using lights or a sunny window)
- A lack of clutter (mess is distracting – but cleaning it up first can also boost my productivity)
5. Call Someone & Explain What You Need to Accomplish
This is not an excuse to complain to a friend or family member for an hour instead of getting work done! However, it is sometimes helpful to organize your mind and prioritize your goals by talking through them with another person.
Whether this means you set up a meeting with a coworker or dial up a friend: give them insight into your list and what you realistically want to accomplish in the time you have.
The key to avoiding complaining is to be realistic about your goals and not just schedule a meeting to try and impress someone with how much work you have to do. Remember: being the most stressed out and overwhelmed does not win you any awards in life!
6. Speed Clean One Space in Your Home
Sometimes clutter and mess can steal your momentum. However, I actually love to use a quick clean-up of my workspace or home to kickstart my productivity.
Depending on the goals you have for the day, your lazy attitude could be tied to feeling overwhelmed by the mess. Start by cleaning up the space you need to use to get things done.
Need to file taxes? Clear your desk and organize all the papers you need. Want to make a healthy dinner for your family? Prep your space and you’ll find it much easier to work through the list of to-do items.
If you’re into checking things off, give yourself a little to-do list item to check off once you’ve cleaned your work space. It’s always easier to work on a list that has at least one item completed.
7. Turn on Some Classical Music or a Focusing Ambience
The right music or ambience may help you to get in a focused and productive mood. Classical music has always been the go-to of people who want to get things done, but I tend to choose film scores because I love movies.
The key is to find something that engages your mind, but doesn’t distract you or make you want to take a nap.
There are some really useful ambience channels on YouTube. Creators have combined nature sounds and music to create an audio experience. It sounds a little weird, but there are options to fit just about any preference you have.
Because I love film scores, one of my favorite channels is called Ambient Worlds. The creator uses movie-based music and imagery to create nostalgic, relaxing, or focusing environments that you can use to get things done.
8. Watch a Short Motivational Video
YouTube is a neat place. There are lots of entertaining videos and a few really fun motivational ones as well. The sports-themed ones seem to get me the most fired up, but honestly, any motivational talk is bound to make us want to get up and take advantage of the time we have.
Here are just a couple of the ones that I’ve definitely used when I’ve been laying in bed debating whether I need to go to the gym or sleep that extra 45 minutes:
Something about a video that incorporates music and words and visuals to give you a boost might be exactly what you need to get up and get moving forward with intention.
9. Chug Some Caffeine and Take a 30 Minute Nap
Caffeine is my friend — and I am sure that many of us who find ourselves feeling tired often turn to caffeine for a boost. However, I’ve found that doubling my caffeine energy is possible if I sneak a snooze right after I take it in.
This is basically what got me through college exams and some long nights of working to meet deadlines at my first job.
- I get up and grab a cup of lukewarm coffee or another caffeinated beverage. The key is that the temperature must make it possible for you to drink it relatively quickly.
- Once I polish off my caffeinated beverage, I immediately lay down for a cat nap: nothing more than 30-40 mins.
- When that alarm goes off, I get up and I can tell the caffeine has entered my system. I usually follow up with either a short burst of exercise or cleaning up my environment.
10. Write Down Why You Want to Get Things Done
For many of us, getting things done every day comes down to a big enough “why”. Whether we know it or not, we are actively using a “why” to motivate us on a daily basis. Some common “whys” include: paying the bills, love for family, commitment to another person, upcoming vacation, etc.
So when it comes time to motivate yourself to get up and get moving, it can be helpful to take this internal process and put it down on paper. Something about using your hands to create a physical list of the reasons why you want to accomplish your tasks makes them feel more concrete.
Read more about using a big “why” to tackle life goal-setting.
11. Mix Some “Want-To-Do” Items into Your “Need-To-Do” List
Is your list of things to do completely overwhelming and stressful? I rarely can complete a list of items to do without getting distracted. My favorite way to keep moving when I have a lot to get done is to mix in a couple “want-to-do” items.
I’ll get through a list that starts with chores and errands and then in the middle somewhere it says “stop for a latte,” or “play The Sims for 1 hour”. Obviously these are some silly examples, but these “want-to-do” items can give my motivation a little boost throughout the day.
Sometimes I’ll even skip them if I am feeling really productive. Having them on the list keeps me from taking advantage of the break and losing steam.
12. Choose a Podcast Instead of a Video or Show
When you’re sick of music and your errands have you feeling tired and uninterested, try a podcast. There are so many to choose from and most won’t cost you anything to enjoy. Throw in some headphones and listen to anything from book reviews and commentary to help with learning languages.
Here are a couple of my fave podcasts:
- The Dave Ramsey Show. (Who doesn’t like to hear about people paying off debt and getting their lives on track?)
- CoffeeBreak French. (I took French through high school and college – so this just helps me to remember more than how to say “j’adore le pain et le fromage”.)
- The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health
13. Do Something Creative
This might SEEM like a distraction, but it’s actually a tool to spark your interest in being alive. Many of us go through our days without really getting to stretch the creative side of our brains.
When I go through weeks and months without having a creative outlet, I find myself feeling like I have less drive. When I let go of my favorite things (ex: penmanship and lettering) for extended periods of time, I lose track of what exists outside of my “need-to-do” list.
That’s when the laziness kicks in. So in order to get ourselves back on our feet, we have to give our brains a chance to grab onto a creative outlet.
Recently I found myself sitting in a puddle of lazy feelings that I had been growing over a few months of being “too busy”. So I picked up a creative project and made it a priority to finish it. Here’s how it turned out.
Not only did it reignite my creative mind. It gave me something to work on when I finished my “need-to-do” list at the end of the day.
Is Laziness a Symptom of a Lack of Passion?
Most of us can’t afford to actually behave lazily. We have too many things to do and too many people who rely on us. It’s the lack of excitement and passion for life that should be our red flag.
We should treat long-term feelings of laziness like a symptom. It encourages us to take our heads out of the sand and look around. Instead of listening to the conventional wisdom of those around us who say things like “welcome to the real world,” we can make changes to our lifestyle and direction.
How crazy is it that so many of us have adapted to a life that makes us feel beaten down and unmotivated? Why do we feel like that’s a prerequisite for being an adult?
Even worse than that: many of us pride ourselves on the level of day-to-day unhappiness. It’s almost like we’re working towards some sort of award for having the least enthusiasm.
What if we made a change today? What if we decided that everyday life doesn’t require a constant stream of adrenaline to be “exciting”?