Feel the Lethargy and Do It Anyway
Yuck, it’s tax time again. One of these days, you’ll get your hands on the documents you need and you’ll fill out your return – on time this year! But not right now. That’s too much hassle.
You’ve been meaning to start that running program, but not tonight – you’re beat.
You’re at work and you’re sneak-surfing on the internet. Whenever anyone passes by, you alt-tab quickly back to a bogus spreadsheet. You know you need to get back to work and stop loafing, but you just can’t get focused.
Do any of these scenarios sound like you? Maybe it’s not taxes, exercise, and work that you’re putting off – maybe it’s a heart-to-heart conversation with your daughter, or maybe it’s cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen. Maybe it’s folding a basket of laundry. Clipping your toenails. Whatever it is, you just can’t seem to get motivated to do anything!
Sometimes it isn’t fear of failure that holds us back. Sometimes it’s just plain old lethargy! And if that’s the case, you probably won’t finish reading this article, because when you’re feeling lethargic, the last thing you want is to be motivated!
I don’t know about you, but often when I’m feeling lethargic but otherwise perfectly healthy, I have conflicting voices running in my head. One voice wants me to snap out of it and get things done that I promised myself or others would get done. The other voice whimpers, “Leave me alone.”
Here are two techniques that I use to snap myself out it and get moving on things again:
1. Movement creates movement. Once you make any move at all, you’ve begun creating momentum, so it’s easier to keep moving. Sometimes it seems to require the combined forces of the entire Universe just to launch that first little bit of movement. Sometimes you have to bargain ruthlessly with yourself. I promise myself some great reward for small effort. It’s ridiculous. “Just open the folder on the computer that has the report I need to work on. Then click on the report and it will open. THEN I can have a candy bar.” Once the report is open and I’m chomping on my candy bar, it’s easy to jump right in and get to work on it.
If you’re putting off shoveling the snow, promise yourself a reward for getting your coat, boot, hat and mittens on. If you’re putting off starting that running program, promise yourself a reward for setting your running clothes & running shoes out and for setting your alarm a half hour earlier. You get the idea. Just do what you need to do to get moving.
2. Placate the child. I adapted this from The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore. It’s the little child in you that doesn’t want to do what you, the adult, is asking yourself to do. Maybe the child is whining that you never let it have any fun, or it’s afraid that once you start working, it will be all work and no play, so the child reasons it’s best to just not start.
Prevailing wisdom is that you need to reward yourself AFTER a task has been completed, which is the theory behind the first strategy. This strategy is the other way around. Whatever it is that you’re doing that you don’t want to give up, negotiate a little more of it in exchange for starting whatever it is you’re putting off. For instance, if you’re watching TV but you need to shovel the walk, promise yourself that you can watch to the end of JUST THIS program. Or finish the chapter in the book you’re reading, or have that snack you’re fantasizing about. Or tell yourself you can surf on line for 10 more minutes, and then it’s back to work. Then make sure you do it!
If your lethargy is chronic or persistent or is accompanied by other symptoms, consider seeing a doctor. At the very least, consider some lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, getting more exercise, and improving your eating habits.
I have a little saying that I use on myself. “The less you feel like it, the more you need it.” Fit people often feel like exercising, but out-of-shape people rarely do. People who eat healthy diets often have a hankering for raw vegetables, but people who live on a diet of junk rarely do. Highly productive workers do take breaks, but they don’t let them interfere with their productivity – they take a short break, and then they get on with their work. And so on.
Are you putting something off right now because you just don’t feel like it? Before you click on another link, before you visit another site, or before you read another article, pick one of the two strategies and put them to work. Maybe you’ll even come to my website and email me to tell me if it worked or not! (Don’t do that until AFTER you’ve knocked that thing off your to do list, though!)
Authors Details: Feel the Lethargy and Do It Anyway – Holly Zenith Web Site