Like most people, you’ve probably wondered how to get things done when you don’t want to or don’t have the motivation.
Granted that you may not exactly qualify as a procrastinator, but some of the things you always put off tend to contribute to unhealthy stress levels and a feeling of dissatisfaction with yourself.
For some, committing to regular exercise seems like the most difficult thing in the world. Even when the activity is work-related, like cold-calling clients or having an uncomfortable conversation, some people still dread and put it off until it becomes a nagging thought. For others, it could be some routine chore like cleaning their home, laundry, or cooking.
Regardless of what it is, learning effective ways to motivate yourself into action is crucial if you must live a satisfactory life.
In this post, I’ll share 7 of my go-to recommendations to help you get things done when you don’t want to move a muscle!
But first, here are some sneaky reasons people lack motivation and how to address them.
Common Reasons for Lack of Motivation and How to Tackle Them
To overcome procrastination, it is essential to understand why you seemingly lack the willpower to get things done. The most common reasons for lack of motivation include:
1. You’re Overwhelmed
The thought of working on the task or project is overwhelming because you’re already physically, mentally, or emotionally exhausted.
How to Tackle:
It’s difficult to satisfactorily complete any task if you’re already tired. Forcing yourself to get things done when you don’t want to, especially when you’re physically exhausted, can lead to burnout.
Take a break, go for a walk, or get a quick nap when you’re tired.
You’ll be in a better frame of mind to handle even the most mundane tasks when you get your energy back.
2. The Task Doesn’t Feel Important
You don’t see why you should complete the task, so it feels unimportant and doesn’t deserve to be prioritized, at least at the present moment.
How to Tackle:
Review your life’s vision to see if the project or task fits your big picture. Strike it off your list and replace it with something more important if the task or project doesn’t serve you in any way.
On the other hand, you should find a way to prioritize and make the project more enjoyable if it fits into your short-term or long-term goals. If possible, consider teaming up with close buddies to make the activity fun.
3. You Want to Avoid Negative Outcomes
You are afraid you’ll embarrass yourself if you attempt a task, or something will go horribly wrong.
How to Tackle:
We all want to live up to our standards, but they might be unrealistic and fear-based standards if they are holding us back.
Go ahead and do the thing you fear just for the experience, regardless of the outcome. You’ll get better with time. Don’t let perfectionism and self-limiting beliefs hold you back.
4. You’re Not Sure Where to Start
Sometimes, a lack of clear-cut direction prevents you from taking on a task. You don’t fully understand the instructions on how to go about completing a task or executing a project, so things seem a bit hazy to you, and it’s killing your drive.
How to Tackle:
Don’t be shy to ask for help or guidance. And whatever you do, don’t wait until you can see a way to complete the entire project before you start. Sometimes, you only need to take the first step, and the rest of the way will light up as you go along.
5. You’re Emotionally Out of Whack
It is normal to want to avoid responsibility when you’re out of sorts. Pushing yourself to get things done can be an uphill task if you just received bad news or are having a bad day.
How to Tackle:
Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to crawl into a ball or take time off when you’re knocked down.
7 Tips to Help You Get Things Done When You Don’t Want To
1. Focus on Your “Why”
Nothing keeps your motivation up like fixating on your WHY. Whenever you sense procrastination creeping in, focus on all the reasons you should do what needs to be done.
Here’s what this means.
Before connecting to your why, you must identify your goals, dreams, or life’s vision. If you can figure out how completing a task or project brings you closer to your dreams, you will be more willing to do whatever it takes to get the task done.
In other words, procrastination doesn’t stand a chance with you if your WHY is convincing enough!
2. Think About the Task Differently
Sometimes, all it takes to get things done when you don’t want to is changing your perspective about the task.
Instead of thinking the task is hard, difficult, or scary, start thinking and talking about it in a positive light. This will gradually shift your inner dialogue and clear any mental blocks stopping you from completing the task.
3. Break Large Projects Into Bite-Size Tasks
Most times, when you feel like not getting things done, it is because you’re looking at the sheer size of the project instead of the smaller tasks. And when you perceive something as too big, it becomes daunting.
For example, writing hundreds of pages of a dissertation can be overwhelming and seem like a difficult task. You’ll likely keep putting it off until the “right time” (which may never come!).
A more helpful approach will be to break the writing project into several short papers. Thinking of your tasks this way eliminates or reduces the overwhelming feeling associated with tackling large projects.
4. Consider the Long-Term Effect of Procrastination
When you don’t feel like doing something, stop and ask how putting off the unfinished tasks will affect you and your productivity in the future.
If you’re honest with yourself, it won’t take long before you spring into action!
But just in case you’re still unmotivated and don’t feel like a very productive person, consider how procrastination will affect those closest to you, especially your spouse, kids, and elderly loved ones.
Putting off important tasks in the home might build resentment in your relationship. And if it is work-related, your income will eventually take a hit and impact your family’s lifestyle.
5. Leverage the Power of Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that can shift your perspective, boost your confidence, and increase your motivation when used repeatedly.
When you don’t feel like getting things done and are faced with a long to do list, affirmations can help change your inner dialogue to help you approach any difficult task differently.
If affirmations are too out there or silly for you, think of them as setting intentions. Saying something like, “I am highly motivated and productive today,” or placing inspirational words where you can easily see them throughout the day can increase your motivation.
6. Work With an Accountability Partner
A little help from a trusted partner can go a long way in overcoming procrastination and distraction. I strongly recommend enlisting an accountability partner if you want a little bit of positive pressure and to boost your willpower.
Remember that not everyone in your circle qualifies is suitable to hold you accountable to your goals and timelines. To learn more about choosing a great accountability partner, read this checklist.
7. Focus on the End Result
The most difficult tasks or projects to get around to are those with delayed results. For example, hitting the gym for the first couple of days or weeks isn’t likely to show appreciable results.
This is why many people throw in the towel too soon.
But don’t give up! Visualize what it feels like when you finally achieve your goals. Think of your future self. This will keep you going when results are slow to show.
Stop Putting Things Off
Now you know how to get things done when you don’t want to; what’s keeping you from taking on that seemingly dreadful task?
Before you get on with your to-do list or project, here’s one final piece of advice.
Motivation wanes! Even if you’re fired up this red hot minute, you need to regularly digest content that keeps your motivation up.
In the words of Zig Ziglar, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily.”