Few things beat the occasional lazy Sunday. But when it comes to living a responsible life, laziness can be an insipid poison, a rapidly momentum-gaining gyroscope of sluggishness that, once it gets going, never seems to stop—or, rather, start.
Luckily—and the truly indolent out there will be thrilled to hear this—banishing laziness requires very little work at all. In fact, with just a few negligible lifestyle tweaks, you can perk up, boost your motivation, and double your productivity—instantly. And to make things even easier, we’ve gathered them all here for you. So read on, and enjoy your newly energetic life! And for more great health advice, here are the 30 Genius Tricks That Will Make Your Life Easier.
Redecorate your desk or workspace.
It’s not just in your head: Your office’s drab décor is keeping you down. According to research out of the University of Texas, the typical beiges and grays of the modern office can increase sadness and dampen feelings of motivation. But, on the flip side, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that a workspace full of vivid colors—especially blues and reds—can boost creativity, energy, and motivation.
Since you likely have no say in the wall color of your office, your best bet is to exert control over your own realm: Your desk. Stack it up with brightly colored posters, tchotchkes, trinkets, photo frames—anything. And if you’re decorating an office in your house, learn the 20 Things Everyone Over 40 Should Have in Their Home Office.
Couch potatoes, rejoice: One of your favorite lazing activities can actually help you slash your laziness. Everyone from the National Sleep Foundation to the American Psychological Association concurs that a 10- to 30-minute nap can work wonders on boosting productivity and motivation.
In fact, the APA suggests getting up to 90 minutes in some cases. (By sleeping for an hour-and-a-half, you’ll get a full sleep cycle in, and reap all of the related benefits. As such, it’s a tactic best used if you didn’t get a good night’s sleep the previous night.) And for more up-to-the-minute health news, here’s Exactly How Much Caffeine You Need to Drink to Overdose.
Follow the “two-minute rule.”
When it comes to email, David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, follows a simple rule: If he can deal with it in two minutes or less, he just does it, right then and there. It’s a good rule to tack to. But why stop at email? Apply it to anything—washing a dish, picking up the clothes off your floor—that will only take you 120 seconds or less. And for more instant stress-banishing productivity, learn the 10 Secrets For Conquering Stress in 10 Minutes.
Turn motivation into an equation.
Think of what you need to do like an if/then problem. In other words, don’t think, “Today, I’m going to do laundry.” Think: “If I’m down to my last pair of underwear, then I’m going to do laundry.” (To be clear, Best Life is not recommending that you wait until you’re down to your last pair of drawers to do laundry.) Studies in both Psychology, Health, and Medicine, and Neurobiology of Learning and Memory show that this is an effective method to combating lethargy. Also: See the 50 Ways to Be a Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
Get a busier workspace.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a tactic available to cubicle drones. But if you’re a remote employee, consider swapping “offices” to a busier environment. A recent study in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review indicates that folks who surround themselves with highly-focused people—or, specifically, people who appear highly-focused—see their productivity and motivation skyrocket. And for more uplifting ways to improve your workday, consider getting one of the 8 Best Office-Ready Backpacks.
Take an ice-cold shower.
It’s not rocket science: Lethargy and tiredness go hand-in-hand. In other words, if you’re exhausted, the likelihood of you getting up and doing anything are minimal. Luckily, there’s a trick for instantly banishing any tiredness.
According to a study in Behavioral and Brain Functions, even just a few minutes of cold showering can grant you an instant coffee-like perk—without having to wait half an hour for the caffeine to kick in. And for more amazing life hacks, here are the 50 Genius Tricks to Improve Your Life.
Clothing has a definitive effect on your mood—and science concurs. Just look to a landmark study in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, wherein researchers had subjects wear white lab coats and perform tasks. Then, when subjects informed the coats were actually painter’s jackets, levels of motivation plummeted.
In other words, if you’re hanging around in sweats and a ratty tee, you’re likely to act accordingly (snack in front of the television). Same goes for if you suit-it and boot-it (power through to-do list items like a train). And if you’re in the market for some new duds, here’s everything you need to dress to impress.
All exercise is good, of course. But, when it comes to getting up off the couch, lifting weight might be your best bet—especially when you consider that its effects continue long after your workout. According to Mark Moyad, MD, the director of preventative and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, “Pumping iron three times a week can increase energy levels by up to 50 percent, even on days you don’t lift.” If you want to start in the comforts of your own home, don’t miss the 8 Ultimate Home-Gym Essentials.
Break it down.
Sometimes, laziness is simply a symptom of being overwhelmed; your task appears insurmountable, and, instead of trying to tackle it, you just shrug it off. To combat that, lift a technique from Pete Docter, a Pixar writer (Toy Story, Toy Story 2) and director (Monster’s Inc., Up). As Docter revealed in Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration, he simply takes large projects and breaks them into multiple, easier-to-handle smaller ones.
Let’s say the task is “draft a screenplay,” and you’re feeling too lazy to start. Breaking into, “come up with characters,” “figure out their motivations,” “write a story treatment,” and so on can make one daunting undertaking seem like a collection of achievable tasks.
Make a list.
Bust out the pen and pad. Research out of the Dominican University of California found that folks who write their tasks down are more likely to get around to completing them. Bonus: If you do your to-do list before bed, you’re all but guaranteed to sleep better.
Start it off with the easiest item.
And if you’re making a list for the following day, put the easiest item first. Think of your motivation like a car battery: Once it starts up, it keeps going, powered by its own energy. For an easy hack, think of an effortless, everyday action—like brushing your teeth—as a task. In that case, by doing little more than accomplishing this thing you do each and every day, you’ve kickstarted your motivation.
Finally, to really make the most of your list, make it fun. With apps like Todoist—which is available on your smartphone, tablet, and desktop and syncs to-do list data across all three platforms—you get points for every task you check off, essentially turning your day-to-day into a game.
If you’re too lazy to go to the gym, there’s a simple solution: Grab a friend, thus transforming your workout from a to-do list item into a commitment. What’s more, according to a study in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, folks who exercise with their friends end up working out harder than they would alone. And for more ways to incentivize yourself to work on your body, learn the 20 Science-Backed Way to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight.
Blast some tunes.
There’s a reason fitness centers blast fist-pumping music: It’s highly impelling. As reported in Scientific American, fast-paced songs—so, anything that clocks in with a BPM of 145 or higher—can instantly increase energy and motivation.
Reframe your thinking.
“A great deal of procrastination comes from trying to bully ourselves into doing something we feel we ‘should’ or ‘have to’ do,” says Karen R. Koenig, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. Instead, think of chores and tasks as stuff you want to do. To help on that front, bone up on the 20 Genius Ways to Make Chores More Fun.
Embrace the Pomodoro Technique.
Named after the tomato-shaped timers that popularized this method in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique works like this: Work diligently for 25 minutes, stop and laze around for 5 minutes, and repeat. On the fourth cycle, stop and laze for fifteen minutes. It’s the ideal mix of productivity and mental idleness.
Tackle tasks immediately.
Yes, this may seem like an obvious and, as such, ignorable solution. But—at least for yours truly—it’s a surefire cure-all for any brief bouts of laziness. Here’s how it works: If you’re lounging around and there’s stuff that needs doing, the second you think of a chore, whether it’s taking out the trash or going grocery shopping, do it that very second.
Switch to a standing desk.
If you’re feeling lazy on the job, start working at a standing desk. You literally won’t be able to kick back and relax. (And you’ll work wonders on any back pain you may be experiencing.)
Change your desktop background.
It may seem innocuous, but that trademark Apple swirl on your computer background might be dampening your desire to get work done. Instead, set your desktop as a photo of a baby animal, which, according to research in PLoS One, has been shown to boost motivation and productivity. And if you need help choosing, refer to The Best Desktop Backgrounds for Boosting Your Productivity.
Drink more coffee.
Duh. But not too much! Remember: This Is Exactly How Much Coffee You Need to Drink to Overdose.
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