What to Do When You Feel Extremely Unmotivated
A strategy for taking advantage of ‘low energy’ moments
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
The other day, my good friend asked me what advice I had for those times in the day (or week) when you feel extremely unmotivated. You know you are procrastinating. You know you need to do work. But you are not feeling in the groove. You are not tired, but you are not roaring to go either.
Have you ever felt that way? I certainly have.
I told my friend that my advice, and what I do, is set a timer for 5 minutes and just get started. Sometimes, you need enough ‘activation energy’ to get started and then the action of getting started gives you the motivation and energy to keep going.
However, if you don’t like that method, here’s another one I learned from Derek Sivers.
Everybody has tasks and activities they need to do, but they do not feel particularly enthusiastic about. This could be chores. This could be laundry. Or at work, it could be administrative tasks, such as replying to emails, updating logs, or filling in timesheets. All of these tasks, frankly speaking, do not require a high amount of energy or motivation to do. You do it and move on.
Derek’s insight: match these tasks with your energy levels.
When you are feeling unmotivated or don’t have the energy to work on any of the work to move you forward, use that time to work on these administrative or low-energy tasks. Get these tasks out of the way so that you are not spending valuable energy or ‘motivation’ to do them when your motivation is high.
It’s another reason why you shouldn’t be responding to emails or filling in timesheets, i.e., doing administrative tasks, first thing in the morning, when your energy and motivation are high. Save those tasks for the afternoon lull. Or for small gaps in your time in between meetings where you know you won’t be able to concentrate and focus for a long period of time.
Many thanks to Derek Sivers for this idea from his excellent book Hell Yeah or No.