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Are you a lazy person? Do you struggle to get things done?
Everyone’s been there before. Sometimes it’s just so difficult to find the motivation to get all of the things done.
Maybe you’re overworked, dealing with a medical issue, or you’re just burned out. Mustering the energy when your tank is on Empty can be near impossible.
But wait a minute… did you catch what we said there? Maybe you’re overworked, dealing with a medical issue, or you’re just burned out?
Do any of those things sound like laziness?
Like you just don’t want to do the things that you know you should be doing? That would better your life? That will help you maintain the quality of your life?
The word “lazy” is shaming language that is starting to get challenged in mental health circles.
What we call laziness doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual reasons behind why we aren’t doing what we need to do.
Is a person lazy because they’re too exhausted to do additional work?
Is a person lazy because they struggle with depression and their body isn’t producing the energy to do the work?
Is a person lazy who shuts down because they are overwhelmed by their anxiety?
Is a person lazy because they feel like they aren’t being respected and just don’t want to do the work?
Lazy, by definition, is simply an unwillingness to work or use energy. But it’s seldom used in such a neutral way. Instead, we use it against ourselves as a way to shame ourselves into doing the work. Other people use it against us to try to shame us into motivation.
You can’t be lazy. You shouldn’t be lazy. You have things to do! Responsibilities and all of that!
And a lot of that just comes from the social construct of our work ethic. America is the land of opportunity. So if you’re not succeeding, you must be lazy and not working hard enough! Which is an attitude that completely ignores the randomness of success.
Hard work can make you more likely to succeed. However, there are still plenty of people out there who will break their backs in hard labor and never experience “success” in the way it’s marketed to be.
Still, we need to find the motivation and path toward our success. No one else is going to do the work for you.
So, how can you stop being lazy?
1. Accept yourself for what you are.
The word “lazy” has negative connotations. There’s no real way around that. It’s the most common way that word is used.
But you’re allowed to be a person who doesn’t always want to do stuff constantly. That may be an active choice, or it might be something imposed on you from an external factor.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Clearly, you care about your motivation and ability to get things done. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article. You wouldn’t be out hunting for knowledge on being more productive and getting more things done.
People will often use metaphors like, “You don’t have to be working all the time. You’re not a machine.” Which isn’t really correct. Anyone who’s worked with machines knows that machines don’t work all the time either. They regularly go down for maintenance. Otherwise, they break and need fixing. And much like a machine, you can’t be productive all the time.
Avoid calling yourself lazy. Avoid shaming yourself. Putting negative thoughts into your head will make the situation harder on yourself than it needs to be.
2. Understand why you are not motivated.
Can you identify why you’re not motivated? Why do you feel you are lazy? Identifying the why will let you find solutions to the problem that may not be as simple as just not wanting to work.
Consider questions like:
How often do you get breaks? Are you working all the time? Do you have the energy to do the things that you are going to do? Do you get good sleep?
Do you have a good diet? Are your body and brain getting the right nutrients they need to help keep you motivated and energetic?
Is it a mental health concern? Do you find yourself overwhelmed constantly? Do you feel hopeless or apathetic? Do you feel like nothing matters? Do you feel like there are too many decisions to make?
All of these things may point to medical reasons for your lack of motivation and desire. If you can’t pinpoint a reason, it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional about it. They may be able to help you hone in on the reason.
3. Develop better habits.
People are creatures of habit. Sometimes, laziness and lack of motivation can be rooted in our regular habits.
For example, let’s say you work from home. Every day at about 2 PM, you decide to take a nap for your lunch break. Your body and brain will get accustomed to having that nap every day, so when it gets to be about 1:45, your brain and body are telling you that it’s about time for sleep. They will start slowing down and preparing to rest.
On the other hand, maybe you just don’t have much to do. Maybe you’re at a place in your life where you’re not really working, there’s not a whole lot to do around the house, and you’re just spending a lot of time lounging. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off to yourself, but it’s a lot harder to get going again when you’re off a schedule and need to get back on it.
Make productivity into a habit. Get some things done, and it will be easier to grow your motivation.
4. Set some reasonable goals.
Goals are a fantastic way to build motivation. The SMART goal system is a simple, effective way to get more things done. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For example, let’s say you want to lose some weight. “Losing weight” is a non-specific goal that is hard to set a successful condition to. A SMART goal will be a smaller goal that will bring you closer to the ultimate goal of losing more weight. It would be more like:
“I’m going to lose weight by not consuming more than 1800 calories per day for the next 30 days.”
That’s a specific, SMART goal that provides an actionable way to attain the overall goal. It’s much easier to find motivation and get the job done when you have a specific plan to reach success.
5. Work on small things.
Do you have grand plans? Not everyone does. That’s okay if you don’t. Some people don’t dream big or have major goals that they strive for. The reasons can be anything from mental health to just being satisfied with the smaller things in life.
The interesting thing about the small things in life is that all of the bigger things are just a composition of that small thing. For example, many smaller moving pieces go into earning a degree. You have to apply for the school, maybe relocate, attend and pass classes, study, do projects, and much more.
Small things can help provide you with motivation when you’re feeling blasé about your life. Accomplishing smaller goals (usually) activates the brain’s reward circuits, providing dopamine and endorphin boosts as a reward for doing well. Use that to get yourself moving toward the things that you want to accomplish.
6. Use time management techniques.
Time management techniques can be an excellent way to combat laziness that is the result of feeling overwhelmed. Of course, many people don’t do well when they have a massive project hanging over their head that is absolutely going to need several hours to complete, but man, where do you start?
The Pomodoro technique is a common time management technique that can help you make the most of your time. It’s simple. You work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. This cycle is called a Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
Managing your time this way helps break the day up, keeping your mind fresh and motivated. You don’t want to spend all day staring at a computer screen, burning through the hours just to try to get this thing done. That just leaves you exhausted and spent at the end of the day.
So instead, you are creating space within your day to work and not work. You are creating habits and routines that will give your brain downtime when you need to rest.
It’s common to use a timer with this technique, so you don’t distract yourself with keeping time all day. Set the timer for 25 minutes, work until the timer, take a few minutes, restart the timer, and repeat.
7. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses.
Excuses will derail your progress if you let them. You can always find a reason to not do the work.
One common way for people to procrastinate is to “wait for the time to be right.” Well, guess what? There usually isn’t a right time. You can end up waiting for years for all of the stars to align before finally doing what you know you should be, and the opportunity could be long gone.
An excuse is flimsy reasoning to not do the work.
But what about a reason? Sometimes we can’t do the work because there are additional circumstances that are preventing us from acting. That’s fair and reasonable. On the other hand, sometimes you do have to wait. Sometimes it’s another person who isn’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes it’s that you don’t have enough information or resources to accomplish your goal.
These things are fair and valid. Instead, stop making excuses that keep you from moving forward with your duties and goals.
8. Don’t let perfection stand in the way of completion.
Perfectionists often undermine their own success by not settling for good. Instead, they spend far more time agonizing over specific details, trying to hammer out every tiny thing until it meets their criteria of perfect.
But perfectionism isn’t always that simple. Sometimes perfectionism is an anxiety response. By focusing on perfecting the project, the person can excuse themselves from actually completing it.
After all, a completed project is something that can be picked apart, put under a microscope, and judged. A lot of people just aren’t comfortable with that. So instead, they always have a little more work to do. This one little thing needs tweaking. “If I just keep working on it! Then it will be perfect!”
The truth of the matter is that nothing is ever perfect. And even if you do produce the most perfect thing in the world, other people may not appreciate it the way you do.
For example, consider writing. A writer sits down and wants to create the perfect story. They develop the perfect story arc, execute their grammar flawlessly, edit the story down, and tweak it to be in line with their perfect vision. Then they release the thing they wrote, and their audience hates it. How can that possibly happen? It’s simple. The writer and reader are two different people with two different sets of expectations.
A writer can create a technical masterpiece. It can be a slogging bore of a chore to bother reading for anyone who isn’t into technical masterpieces.
Life is no different. Your perfect may mean nothing to anyone else because they just aren’t that interested in your perfect.
9. Reward yourself for completing tasks.
Do reward yourself when you finally complete your goals. Allow yourself to sit back, revel in accomplishing your goal, and give yourself a little happiness as a reward.
That might be treating yourself to something a little extra special or doing something fun that you might not normally do.
A physical reward for a goal completed can help reinforce those reward circuits of the brain because you have a tangible thing to look at as a result of your work. This can be quite helpful when you are pursuing intangible or long-term goals.
For example, losing weight and fixing your diet is a long-term project that will require commitment and discipline. Rewarding yourself with some better clothes as you lose weight can be a good reward.
Do try to avoid rewards that are counterproductive, though.
“I’ve been sober for 30 days! I’ll drink to that!”
“I’ve lost 25 pounds! I’m going to sit down and eat a pizza!”
It sounds ridiculous, but people do it all the time. Unfortunately, it’s not helpful and can cause you to fall back into unhealthier habits.
10. Protect your personal space.
You need to be the one to ensure there is a clear delineation between your work and your personal life. Mobile phones have made this much harder because so much of the world assumes that you should always be reachable. That is anxiety-inducing and a gross intrusion on your personal space.
Do not install work-related apps on your personal devices. Do not use your work devices for personal reasons. Do not work off the clock or take work calls off the clock. Take your vacation, personal, and sick time if you are lucky enough to have it. Maintain separation from your work.
If you must have a phone and your workplace is not providing one, go buy a burner phone from any big box retailer or one of the many convenience stores that carry them.
11. Do not let managers use the word “lazy” to influence you.
Allow me to share a bit of a personal story with you. I’ve had quite a few jobs as someone that didn’t always have a very stable life. Bad management loves to motivate people by weaponizing laziness, except they don’t use the word lazy. They say things like:
“We really need you to pick up some of the slack in your department.”
“X employee was able to do it. So why can’t you?”
“We just don’t have the budget to hire someone else right now.”
“Don’t you want to be a team player?”
It’s all BS meant to pressure you into doing more for less. Their goal is to always keep costs down. So why bother hiring someone to replace the person who just quit when they can lay a guilt trip on you to get you to work harder? After all, many places offer their management bonuses if they can keep their payroll budget under a certain amount.
And do not fall for, “Well, we know you’re doing all of this extra work, but we can’t afford to give you a raise or a promotion right now. Let’s see how things are in six months.” I’ll tell you exactly how things will be in six months. “We just don’t have that in the budget.”
Bad management will sap your energy and motivation. They will leave you an emotional husk. So do not settle for bad management if you can avoid it.
A phrase I personally found helpful was, “I’ll try to pick up that slack, but I don’t know if I have enough time in my day to do it.” If you say no, they can write you up for insubordination or try to bully you into thinking you’re wrong. And then, you can put out the reason, “I just didn’t have the time to get it all done.”
They will likely complain or say you just need to work harder. Just shrug and look at them blankly. Don’t argue. You won’t win.
12. Reduce your stress.
Stress plays a negative role in our ability to function as people. Of course, a little stress isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s good to have the disruption. But regular, consistent, long-term stress can have a starkly negative impact on your mental and physical health.
By the time you actually get around to resting, you no longer have the time or the energy to keep up with the stress you’re experiencing.
Now, if you’re in a high-stress job, sometimes you can’t avoid that. So you need to have ways of managing and blowing off that stress so that you can still function when you get out of work.
However, sometimes that’s just not possible. So if you find that you just can’t function when you’re not at work because you’re constantly stressed out about work, it might be time to consider a career change or finding a different job.
13. Embrace planning and scheduling.
Sometimes a lack of productivity can come from poor planning. It’s hard to get everything you need done if you are constantly chasing around responsibilities and putting out fires. So try to incorporate more scheduling into your workday where you can.
It’s much easier to meet your goals when you have time set aside to address them. It means you don’t have to deal with the start and stop nature of general work.
Email is one major time and productivity thief. For example, let’s say that you’re working on a project. An email lands in your inbox, so you have to stop your work, shift your focus to the email, answer the email, and then get back into the project you were working on. That can easily turn into 5 or 10 minutes of inefficiency per email. Now, if you work in a job where you are getting 10 emails a day, that’s a whole lot of lost productivity and wasted time.
One way to manage that communication style is to pick a set time (or times) in the day to check your mail. Do it in the morning, at lunch, and/or before you go home. That way, you can spend the rest of your time focusing on your actual work.
14. Improve your sleep.
Sleep is the cornerstone of good health. Your body repairs itself and produces a lot of important chemicals when you’re in the deepest reaches of sleep.
However, suppose you are not sleeping consistently or regularly. In that case, your body may not have enough time to do everything it needs to do. Shallow or broken sleep can cause moodiness, depression, worsen anxiety, and deprive you of the feeling of being rested.
Common ways to improve sleep hygiene include not using screens before bed (even with blue blockers), avoid stimulating drinks before bed, and have a comfortable place to sleep. People tend to sleep better in a comfortable bed in a cooler climate.
Try to maintain a sleep schedule where you get the amount of sleep that leaves you rested. That’s usually about six to eight hours of sleep, but it can be different depending on the person.
15. Improve your diet.
Your diet is an important part of your motivation and energy. Food and drink are the fuel that keeps your machine running. Avoid foods that can cause you to spike and crash in energy; sugar, caffeine, high-fat, and processed foods.
Steer away from junk food and snacking on bad foods like potato chips, snack cakes, and candy. We consume so much sugar that it drastically affects the way other foods taste. For example, suppose you stay away from foods with refined sugars for a couple of weeks. In that case, naturally sweet foods like fruit will taste much sweeter.
Good food is necessary to keep your body running efficiently.
16. Get regular exercise.
Regular exercise provides a net positive effect on how much energy you have. You will find that as you exercise, your body gets used to it and wants more activity. That energy is what you can pour into accomplishing your goals and not being lazy.
Exercise is beneficial even if it’s a small amount, so long as you do it regularly. Even taking a walk and getting some sunshine for 15 minutes a day can provide a massive boost to your energy levels.
17. Drink more water.
Change out the sugary juices and sodas, coffees and teas, and energy drinks with good old-fashioned water.
Water is just good for you.
It has no calories and is used by your body to help keep everything in working order.
Drink more water.
18. Surround yourself with motivated, positive people.
There’s a saying that goes, “You are the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s pointing to the influence that our friends and family often have on us.
People have a difficult time moving against the flow that they find themselves in. For example, suppose you surround yourself with negative people who never want to do anything or improve their situation. In that case, it’s much easier for you to shrug off your own progress and just be lazy with your friends.
However, surrounding yourself with people who have goals can help you create a support network to keep everyone on track.
Being around negative people who are content with slacking off is not the way to get things done.
19. Lean into your personal strengths.
Frustration is a powerful demotivator. You may be trying to accomplish something that you’re just not good at. It might be that the overall goal you’re trying to achieve doesn’t really align with your personal strengths.
Is there a way to put your goals in alignment with your strengths? You can make the pursuit of your goals all that much easier by leaning hard into your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses.
For example, let’s say you want to get fit. However, you don’t know much about nutrition or eating healthy. Now, you can teach yourself plenty of that information through the internet. However, it might be easier to just see a nutritionist and have them help you develop a meal plan to learn the basics of eating healthy. Talking to a professional can save you a lot of time, money, and energy, which you can then put toward your goal.
20. Do use motivators.
Though you shouldn’t rely on your personal motivation to get things done, you can use motivators to inspire you to keep moving forward.
People are motivated by many different things, which are split into two categories.
First, there are intrinsic motivations. These are the things within you that cause you to take action. That might include things like a desire to be better, passion, justice, or a desire for success.
Second, there are extrinsic motivations. These are external factors that provide motivation. Extrinsic motivations are things like money, travel, being attractive to others, or praise from other people.
What kind of motivators inspire you to action? How can you include those to give yourself that extra boost when you don’t feel like putting in the work?
You may be able to bolster your motivation and inspiration for yourself before you get into your work. Maybe you follow many artists or have a vision board that outlines what your ideal life looks like. These kinds of things can serve as an extrinsic motivation when you find yourself lacking intrinsic motivation.
21. Don’t rely solely on willpower to get things done.
Willpower is powerful tool that can help you push through the bad times. However, it’s not a good idea to solely rely on willpower to make the bigger goals happen. Willpower can wax and wane. You may be fired up and all ready to take on the world today; but tomorrow you may find yourself exhausted and unable to do the work.
That’s your brain telling you that it’s time to take a break. You don’t have to have an iron will to get things done and accomplish your goals.
22. Redefine what it means to fail.
Are you afraid of failure? Many people are. They aren’t actually lazy; they are just afraid of being made to look foolish or of not succeeding.
But, here’s the secret. Successful people fail all the time. They succeed because they don’t necessarily look at failure as the end. It doesn’t have to be. It’s okay if something doesn’t work out. But, what are you going to do with that information? Are you going to throw in the towel and say, “Alright, I failed. I give up!”
Or, are you going to take that failure as a lesson in what doesn’t work and pivot to another approach? A failure doesn’t have to be an end if you don’t want it to be. Sometimes a failure is just an obstacle putting you in a better direction for success.
Failure isn’t a dirty word. But, of course, that isn’t going to stop negative people from treating it like one. Ignore those people. Why do you care what people who don’t support you think? They are irrelevant.
23. Stop thinking and start doing.
It’s good to plan the route you want to take toward success. The problem is that too much can be a bad thing.
Laziness may not be a lack of motivation or desire; sometimes, people just get too wrapped up in their own thoughts about the thing. They spend all their time thinking, planning, planning more, and thinking more. This is called “analysis paralysis.”
The secret to breaking through this is to stop thinking and start doing. Make your initial plan, and then start doing it.
The problem with too much planning is that it assumes you can foresee every hurdle you’re going to face. You won’t. You don’t know what you don’t know. All you can do is face those unknown obstacles when you finally run into them.
You have to be confident that you are smart and capable enough to find solutions to those problems when you do experience them.
And you are!
What’s more, you have the internet at your fingertips. There is undoubtedly someone somewhere who has run into the problems that you are having. The information is out there. And if it’s not, then you get the privilege of trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t!
24. Live in the present.
Do you live in the present? What does it even mean to live in the present?
It’s not complicated. To live in the present means, you are actively choosing what you are doing in the present moment, rather than being pulled along or acting out of habit.
For example, let’s say you spend a lot of time on social media. You scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll, and the next thing you know, it’s two hours later. Did you actively decide to scroll social media for two hours? Or was it something you just mindlessly did out of habit because that’s just what you’re used to doing?
That principle applies to many things. People waste hours mindlessly playing video games, binge-watching shows, scrolling social media, or just doing nothing because that’s just what they do. It may not even be bringing them pleasure, peace, or relaxation. It’s just what they do.
Don’t be pulled along by your habits. Make active choices. And that doesn’t mean that you have to completely give up these things. Just be mindful of how you spend your time. Maybe you want to play a video game for an hour and then get out and exercise. Or maybe you put a show on in the background while you clean up your living space.
Actively choose how you want to spend the precious limited time you have. You don’t get more time.
Laziness is a complicated subject. It’s rarely as simple as the shameful thing that it’s meant to be. For most people, laziness is actually just being tired or needing lifestyle changes. An inability to get things done may point to a medical condition that features fatigue or tiredness for other people. Many mental illnesses can cause exhaustion to a point where the person struggles to function consistently.
If you are affected by chronic laziness and can’t seem to put a finger on why, consult with medical professionals. It may not be as simple as, “I just need to get back to work.”
Be kind to yourself and to others. People don’t generally want to do a bad job or miss out on opportunities. Laziness is not something that most people choose.
Still not sure how to stop being lazy? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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