5 Quick and Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Feel Lazy
Experts share their secrets for breaking a bout of inactivity.
We all need a break from the stress of everyday life from time to time. But what happens when a quick pause ends up turning into a longer bout of laziness? When we get stuck in a cycle of doing nothing, it can be difficult to break ourselves out of it—even if we want or need to be productive. You don't have to go from zero to 100 just to motivate yourself, however. Talking to experts, we gathered some tried and true tips meant to push you out of a lazy spell without all the hefty lifting that often accompanies this kind of advice. Read on to discover five quick and easy ways you can motivate yourself when you're feeling lazy.
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Trick yourself with timing.
Time can be on your side when it comes to overcoming laziness—if you let it. Daniel Castillo, a personal development expert and founder of the lifestyle blog Bokey, says one of the best tools he's uses to beat a lazy bout is a three-second rule.
"Count to three, get up on two. When you do this, you don't let your mind negotiate with itself," he explains. "Getting up on two will help you get up before thinking about the action you need to take. Often the biggest obstacle from you and your action is just getting up to start."
You can also try convincing yourself to "just commit to doing five minutes of a task," says Kathryn Werner, PA-C, a physician assistant specialized in psychiatry and owner of her own mental health consulting practice. According to Werner, you should give yourself the permission to stop that task after five minutes without any guilt—but you may want to keep going.
"Often people will then continue well past the [five minutes]," she notes. "But if they don't at least they've had a more positive experience than they would have if they continued the task indefinitely."
Turn on some music.
When you're feeling low on energy, you might let Netflix play episode after episode or just zone out completely. But Angela Genzale, BSN, a registered nurse and certified life coach, recommends pumping up the volume on a playlist instead.
"Turn off the screen and turn on the sound," she says. "Music is a great motivator."
According to Genzale, you should make a playlist of motivating songs that you can use during future lazy spells. Then later on, all you have to do is hit play and let the music help increase your motivation. "Dance or sing along to really get yourself going," she advises.
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Do some breathing exercises.
Many people push exercising as the ultimate motivator—but that's usually easier said than done. Thankfully, you don't have to start with an intense workout. According to Noah Neiman, CPT, a fitness expert and co-founder of Rumble Boxing in New York City, breathing is one of the most important tools you can use, particularly when you're feeling lazy.
"Breathing properly, especially when your body is in an elevated state of stress, is a rudimentary yet highly effective form of control," he says. "Oftentimes when we feel anxious and stressed or not motivated, it's because we feel out of control."
Ciaran Doran, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, adds that breathing exercises can also be a "fast, simple way" to override self-defeating thoughts regarding perfection and overachievement—which can often induce laziness.
According to both Neiman and Doran, you should be taking breaths that are full, slow, deep, and come from the abdomen. "This can recharge us and allow fresh scope for inspired action," Doran says.
Reach out to another person.
There is strength in numbers, especially when you're feeling unmotivated. Joanna Rajendran, a mindset coach and yoga instructor, tells Best Life that she stresses the importance of "buddying up" in different aspects of our lives. You can use those buddies as motivation when we're feeling too lazy to do something, whether that's going to work, strengthening your relationships, hitting up the gym, or running errands.
"Is there someone in your life who holds you accountable? If so, give them a quick call or text," she advises.
According to Sonia Jhas, a certified physical trainer who also works as a mindset and wellness expert, this person can be referred to as your "accountability partner" and is someone you can turn to for regular support.
"This person can be your spouse, your best friend, a colleague, or a workout buddy," Jhas says. "It doesn't matter if you're actually working towards the same goals as each other or not: All that matters is that they know you have real goals to attain and they are committed to giving you a gentle (or firm) slap in the face, should you need it. And yes, ultimately, we all need it."
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Write it down.
It can quickly become overwhelming when the things we need to do start piling up in our minds—especially if you're already feeling unmotivated. But you don't have to tackle that seemingly never-ending to-do list in your head. Instead, Elizabeth Clark, MS, a biomedical researcher who also works as a women's intuition and leadership coach, says it helps to write down your to-do's and break them up into short lists or sticky notes that include simple tasks.
"You can [then] mark off something everyday, even if it's small. This helps to build self-efficacy," Clark explains. "Start with the easiest task and you'll have an achievement quickly."
Your to-do list doesn't need to be limited to just the things you have to get done either, according to David Seitz, MD, a board-certified physician and medical director of Ascendant Detox. Seitz recommends listing out and breaking up any goals you set for yourself as well.
"Simply writing down your goals can help you stay motivated, as this increases the likelihood that you will accomplish them," he says. "Additionally, breaking larger goals into smaller sub-goals can make it easier to stay focused and motivated to reach your end goal."