How to Get Stuff Done When You Feel Unmotivated

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I can’t stand excuses, even from myself.


Because everything is a detraction from the possibility of doing something. And that something is often within easy reach.

Am I going to finish my homework?

No, I can leave that till later.

Am I going to go for a hike today?

Nah…I’m too tired.

Am I going to follow through on the commitment I made to myself?

I’ll do it another day. I was just too busy.

Sometimes when I’ve promised myself that I’ll exercise or work on a writing project, I find I’d rather forget about it and do something else.


Because I also have other things to do. Other things that seem more pressing. More urgent.

And I suddenly feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes I don’t know where to start.

I think a lack of motivation can stem from feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to do.

You end up doing all these little things that seem urgent but really eat away at your time and energy.

However, the things we think are urgent may not be as important as we think.

So how do I decide what’s urgent versus what’s important? And how do I find the motivation to do the things I want to get done?

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This is probably the most important thing to do. If you schedule it, you’re more likely to do it. I learned this strategy from Gretchen Rubin, who says that scheduling can be a powerful tool in habit-formation. I schedule everything from writing to exercising into my calendar. I also set up notifications on my desktop and email for an extra layer of accountability. When something is scheduled, it’s pretty hard to ignore it, especially when you have a visual reminder staring you in the face.

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Guarding My Time

This ties into scheduling. Once you’ve scheduled a task, carve out time for yourself to do it. This could mean waking up an hour earlier or delegating another, less important task for another time. If the task is important to you, try to schedule it for the very start of the day. It’s crucial to get in that time for yourself and a great way to start the day. When all of the urgent tasks come your way, you’re able to tackle them with the reassurance that you’ve already gotten your important task done for the day.

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Taking A Break

Sometimes what we really need is a break. Even if that break is only fifteen minutes. It’s harder when you have deadlines looming and people counting on you, so take care of that stuff first. But also take some time out to just relax and do something you enjoy. It’s always a balancing act between urgent tasks and important tasks. I find that if I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I’m not in a good headspace for productivity anyway, so I need to take that time to recharge and refocus. A lack of motivation may just be your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest.

Doing A Little Bit

Another helpful strategy is starting a task with the mindset that you’ll do a little bit of it. Oftentimes, you end up in such a groove that you stick with the task and find you’re half an hour into it. This could work for just about anything. For example, say you want to get some exercise in for the day but you don’t want to go on a long walk. Instead of pushing yourself beyond your limits, promise yourself that you’ll go on a small walk (even if it’s just for five minutes). If you only go for a walk around the block, it’s okay. A small accomplishment is still an accomplishment.

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Going Through The Motions

If I really don’t want to do something and I have to go out, I push myself to get ready. This could be something really simple like making yourself a meal, brushing your teeth, styling your hair, etc. The thing I notice about this is that even though I’m just going through the motions, I’m turning my mind off and just focusing on the task at hand. It’s also a nice opportunity for self-care. Even if I’m just putting on makeup, it’s a moment I have just for myself. And dressing up a little could be the little push you need to feel good about doing something.

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When you feel unmotivated, take a moment to reflect on why you feel that way, and figure out what’s important versus what’s urgent in your life.

Communications and digital marketing professional, interested in creativity, personal development and mindful living.

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