“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”
When I was younger, in my early twenties, I was often lazy. Too often actually.
And so I didn’t:
- Get my school work done in a good way and had to cram and stress out a few days before an exam.
- Work out or cook healthy food because it felt too hard and I gained 30+ pounds of weight while my fitness levels went down.
- Take care of my personal growth and dreams but mostly just let all that slide to “someday” as those things remained daydreams.
10+ years later I still love lazying around and not doing much at all. But I’ve also learned how to keep that lazy time to a moderate and healthy amount instead of letting it hold me back and stuck in the same place of excuses for years like it used to.
This week I’d like to share 10 simple habits that have helped me to make that change. To stop being so lazy and get what really matters done by working smarter. While still having room for guilt-free lazy time to spend as I like.
1. Be kind to yourself.
When you feel that you’ve perhaps been too lazy lately it’s common and tempting to beat yourself up about it and to hope that will lead you to start taking action.
Sometimes it does. But I have found that beating yourself up most often just leads to feeling guiltier and like a failure. And so you feel less motivated to get going and you procrastinate because there seems to be little point in even trying.
Instead of getting stuck in that self-esteem sucking place I recommend to gently nudge yourself towards the next tip in this article whenever you feel like you want to beat yourself up.
2. Start with just a small step forward.
The hardest thing is often to simply get started.
So make that as easy as you can to reduce the inner resistance and to actually take action. Start with just taking a small step forward:
- Go out running for only 3 minutes.
- Do the dishes for 5 minutes.
- Write on that report you’ve been procrastinating on for 10 minutes.
I use this habit almost every day in some way. I’m for example creating a new course and my daily aim over the past months has usually been to write 1 page a day. And now that the writing is done the aim as I start my day is often to edit 1 page.
That’s it. But it has never stopped at only 1 page in these months, I have written or edited a whole bunch more each day.
3. Do a small part of what matters most first thing in your day.
To feel like you can enjoy your lazy/rest time fully and without guilt it’s important to actually get what truly matters in the long run done each week.
So start your day with that. But make it easy on yourself by breaking down that task into smaller steps and then focus on just the first one.
Get on it right away to get into an effective and focused mindset.
By doing so you set a good tone for your day. You get that quick 5-10 minute win in first thing and you’ll be a lot more motivated to keep going on that path during the rest of your day.
Instead of starting with busy work like checking emails – this may be vital to do first thing for some but for many it’s probably not – or checking Facebook etc. and then 30 minutes later getting started with today’s work.
4. Cycle fully focused work with small breaks of rest/lazy time.
To lighten up your daily work inject small breaks between doing short but focused burst of work.
Say to yourself: I’ll do 20 minutes of work on this task now and then I can take 5 or 10 minutes of lazy time.
By breaking down your hours like this the work seems less daunting. And you’ll feel energetic and motivated longer and do work of better quality if you allow yourself these pauses of rest and time to lazy around on Facebook, with a game or with just relaxing in the grass or with short walk in the park.
Then, after some time, you may want to work for 40 minutes before you take a 10 minute break. But go easy on yourself at first.
And if you have trouble with sticking to your time-limits then use an app on your phone or a simple egg-timer from your kitchen.
5. Shut down the escape routes temporarily.
Just sitting down at for example your computer and trying to do fully focused work for 5 or 20 minutes may not result in any work of importance getting done.
Not if you don’t remove those things that you usually use to procrastinate.
So ask yourself: where do I usually escape to instead of doing my work?
For me it’s for example often my smart phone and checking Reddit, Twitter or random internet browsing.
So I put my phone in silent mode and I put it at the other end of our home when I work. By setting up that small physical obstacle I avoid the phone trap maybe 95% of the time.
- Have the same issue with gaming then put your controller far away in your home while working.
- Escape to Facebook or other websites on your computer then block that for a little while by using for example StayFocusd.
- Watch TV then pull out the cords to it. Or remove one of the cords completely and put it at the other end of your home.
6. List the downsides and upsides for renewed motivation.
Asking yourself better questions tend to give better answers.
Two sets of questions that I have sat down and asked myself with closed eyes and that have refueled my motivation many times are:
- How will my life look in 5 years if I just continue to stay on the same path as now?
- How will life likely become worse for me and maybe even for the people around me?
This is not like beating yourself up but rather a sober examination of where it’s realistic that you’re heading. And it may be uncomfortable but try to see the negative consequences as vividly as you can in your mind to kickstart your motivation to get going for that positive change.
Then ask yourself:
- How will my life look in 1 year if I get started, stick with it and keep going with this change?
- How will life improve not only for me but for the people that I love if I stick with it?
7. Unclutter your life.
When your life’s too cluttered and overwhelming then you may shut down and procrastinate by lying lazily on the couch and just watching the TV or your smart phone.
When that’s the case then start uncluttering both your work hours and your private time. Two questions that have helped me to do that and to find what is most important are:
- What would I work on if I only had 2 hours for work today?
- If I had just 1 hour of free time today then how would I spend it?
Use these to get out of an old rut, to question your normal day a bit and to find your top priorities.
Then see what you can eliminate, minimize or perhaps delegate of the things that are not contained in your answers.
8. Be OK with stumbling from time to time.
The fear of failure can hold you back in a state of doing easier things and in what you may see as being lazy.
But everyone that go for what they truly want and outside of their comfort zone stumbles and fails from time to time. That’s just a part of a life well lived (even if we don’t hear about people’s setbacks as often as their successes).
See a setback as a learning experience and as a way to be more constructive and kinder to yourself.
You can do that by asking yourself these two questions after you’ve stumbled:
- What is 1 thing I can learn from this situation?
- How would my best friend/parent support me and help me in this situation? (Then talk to yourself and do things like she or he would).
9. Let the enthusiasm, energy and motivation of others in.
Whatever you let into your mind and life will influence you. If the people you hang out the most with are generally a bit lazy about work or school then it’s easy to just adapt to that mood and way of thinking and go with it.
But if you spend more time with motivated people in real life and via books, the internet, podcasts and audio books then that will start to influence your thinking and mood too.
So think about what you let into your mind on a daily and weekly basis and if you want make a few changes to that.
10. Truly appreciate and enjoy your lazy time.
Time spent on just lazying around helps me to relax and recharge and it makes me happy.
But if I do it too much then it does become less healthy for me. It:
- Starts to frustrate me because I’m not moving forward towards what I want.
- Creates stress instead of relaxing me because I’m not getting what’s important done and that could have negative consequences quite soon.
Still, at a moderate amount spending some time on being lazy is truly beneficial for me.
And I’ve found that when you think a little about how you want to spend your lazy time – no matter if it’s a 10 minute break or a lazy Sunday – and use that time on something you really enjoy like reading a book you love rather than aimlessly watching TV-shows you’re just OK with then that time does not only brings more happiness and fulfillment.
I’ve also learned that when I spend my lazy time in this more conscious way I’m more motivated and energized to go back to work again later on.
So I make sure to appreciate and fully enjoy the lazy time I have and create for myself because I know that it will benefit me in several important ways.