What To Do When You Just Don’t Feel Like Working

What To Do When You Just Don’t Feel Like Working
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If you’ve never had a day when you didn’t have the energy or motivation to work on that thing you were supposed to be doing, tell us your secret. For the rest of us, Harvard Business Review highlights three common reasons we all procrastinate and their solutions.

Picture: symphony of love/Flickr

The three reasons are different from ones we’ve showcased before (feeling better doing something fun now and difficulty with time management). Instead, HBR asks us to think if we’re putting something off because: 1) we’re afraid we might mess up, 2) we just don’t “feel” like it, or 3) the task is hard, boring or otherwise unpleasant.

The article’s practical solutions help address the anxiety, lack of motivation and lack of willpower these issues present, respectively. Perhaps the best tip if you just don’t feel like working is to ignore that mindset:

In his excellent book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman points out that much of the time, when we say things like “I just can’t get out of bed early in the morning, ” or “I just can’t get myself to exercise,” what we really mean is that we can’t get ourselves to feel like doing these things. After all, no one is tying you to your bed every morning. Intimidating bouncers aren’t blocking the entrance to your gym. Physically, nothing is stopping you — you just don’t feel like it. But as Burkeman asks, “Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it?”

Think about that for a minute, because it’s really important. Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea — without consciously realising it — that to be motivated and effective we need tofeel like we want to take action. We need to be eager to do so. I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100% nonsense. Yes, on some level you need to be committed to what you are doing — you need to want to see the project finished, or get healthier, or get an earlier start to your day. But you don’t need to feel like doing it.

Next time you’re procrastinating because you don’t feel like it, just tell yourself “So what?” and remember that nothing really is stopping you.

Hit up the link below for more procrastinating-busting strategies, including making an If-Then plan.

How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To [Harvard Business Review]


  • When i just dont have the motivation to work,
    I jump onto lifehacker and browse articles about what to do when you dont have the motivation to do work

  • I procrastinate when I am not sure how to tackle a task, I put it off and do anything else, even much harder work.
    I also hate finishing a task, which is really weird, so when the end is in sight, I tend to procrastinate again…

  • He’s basically taking acceptance and commitment therapy and writing a pop Psyc book.
    Just try dr Russ Harris’ ‘the happiness trap’ (not the originator of the model, but perhaps the best communicator of it).

  • 0: leave enough room in your calendar so you have the freedom to move things around
    1: Catch up on my reading (hence I am here)
    2: Catch up on my diary (a good way to get perspective)
    3: Put on a load of laundry. It’s a quick job and makes you feel like you’ve achieved something
    4: Have a decent breakfast
    5: Have a look at your calendar (I use BusyCal) and make an honest assessment of what you think you can get done. Pick the most important task that you genuinely have the energy for, and decide that if you only get started on that, it will be enough for today
    6: If all else fails, I catch up on some relevant online courses from iTunes U, Lynda.com, Coursera, etc. If I am going to end up vegging out, I may as well be learning something.

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