How To Get Work Done When You Don’t Feel Like It.
We’re human and most of the time we can’t be assed doing the work.
Many people are astonished at how much work I get done. My friend Anthony emails me and asks me how I publish so many blog posts. I am human and most of the time I can’t be assed doing the work.
Feeling like doing work, for me, happens once a week if I’m lucky. My goal is to publish one new thing a day on the internet. This is a pain in the ass goal to achieve given that I don’t feel like doing the work most of the time.
You’re probably similar. How often do you honestly feel like doing the work?
Probably not that much especially when there are distractions, phones, apps and people that can use up your time and prevent you from doing the work you know you must do.
So, what’s the solution to this giant problem we all face?
Here’s how to get the work done:
Remember why you’re doing it
There’s a reason you decided to do this form of work in the first place.
You have the option to change the work you do at your day job, side hustle or startup. No one’s forcing you to do this style of work and you don’t have Al Capone pointing a gun to your head and saying “Do it you son of a gun!”
Whenever I can’t be assed doing my blogging work, I remember why I do it. The answer is really simple: my work helps people and so I must do it.
A guy last year decided at the last minute not to hang himself because of a lame ass blog post I wrote.
Whenever I can’t be bothered, I remember this guy and what affect my work had on him.
Then the sugar hangover ends, I put a shirt on, brush my teeth, smile and do the work.
Get into state
Given that most of the time we don’t feel 100% like we want to do the work, there’s one way to subtly override that feeling: get yourself in a trance.
A trance is also known as flow.
In simple terms that don’t require a scientific explanation, you can get your mind into a trance. I prefer to use music and inspirational YouTube videos to get into a trance.
I’ll watch a couple of inspirational videos that make me forget about my 9–5 job and its challenges, then I’ll pop on a Hans Zimmer playlist of soundtracks on repeat to block out the rest of the world.
These tiny hacks which sound fairly basic, allow me to get the work done and forget that I don’t feel like it. Try it.
Out of sight out of mind
Clean your workspace up. Get that piece of crap phone out of the way and don’t have it anywhere near you. You cannot and will not do your work with your phone only inches away from you.
The same goes for your messy workspace. You cannot focus on your work 100% when you’ve got last nights dinner going moldy next to you, and tissues scattered all over the floor.
Get all of your physical clutter out of sight so that your brain can have the chance to focus.
Take a walk
If you still can’t get the work done, take a walk. Maybe it’s not the right time, or you need to let off some steam.
Walking lets you get outside and get your blood moving. It can be done any time, any place. During my epic battle with mental illness, walking helped me calm down and distract myself from the mental prison I was trapped in.
There are times in my blogging career where I try every self-help, Tim Ferriss hack, and still can’t get the god damn work done. It just doesn’t happen no matter what I do.
During these moments, I go outside, walk around the neighborhood, pat some puppies, enjoy a few trees and let myself go. During these walks, I tell myself that I’m not going to do any work today. Then, I take a walk, come home and surprise, surprise, I feel like doing work again.
Do one part of the work only
You may still fail to do the work even after trying some of these tips I’ve presented. When doing the work, there’s normally multiple parts of the process.
For example, with blogging, you have the writing, editing, image sourcing, posting and marketing of each piece. All of these parts of the process are defined as ‘my work.’
On the days where I can’t seem to find the motivation to do my work, I settle for doing one part of the process. This often looks like spending a few hours finding images, which is relatively easy on the body and doesn’t drain too much energy. Even on the worst days, I can always find some strength to find a few images.
You have the same opportunity. If the work is just not happening for you, pick part of the work that you know you can do easily in isolation.
Our body’s work in strange ways and the mental energy of each task that makes up your version of work varies.
Task switching can sometimes be the reason why you can’t get the work done.
I find the energy to write is the most draining whereas the energy to edit is less tedious. When I start with easier tasks — such as sourcing images — I find that a few hours in I can then switch into the harder task of writing once I’ve found my focus for the day.
You’re going to hate this one.
If you try all of the above and you still can’t get the work done, there’s another option: force yourself.
Do the work, accept it could be the worst work you’ve ever done and still do it anyway without any excuses.
When I was 26, I used to train at a gym that had no air conditioning. It was as hot as a sauna and almost unbearable. I had a personal trainer and didn’t want to let them down, so I forced myself to train in extreme conditions.
After every workout that I did during the hot Australian summer, I walked away proud. It was work I was pleased by because I’d forced myself to do it. There were times I’d feel like vomiting and other times when I felt so dizzy from the heat I almost couldn’t do another rep of whatever exercise my trainer had got me doing.
I still did the work. By disconnecting from the outcome and knowing that I could always stop halfway, I did those pain in the ass workouts.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t do the work, force yourself and don’t worry about the results. You can always do the work again if you have to.
Most of what it takes to do the work is getting into the habit of doing it, and not overthinking the process or what you’re going to achieve.
None of us spend seven days a week dying to do the work.
There are times when you can’t be bothered.
Use this advice to do the work during those times.