The tiredness could only be in your mind
Today is one of those days when I don’t want to do anything at all.
I recognize those days from the moment I open my eyes because even getting up from the bed takes me a lot of time. I’d like to snooze the alarm at least 15 times before I decided to finally wake up.
When your mind is not in a position to do something, even the easiest task takes forever.
When that happens, you have two options:
- Pay attention to your body’s fatigue, and take the day off. Real tiredness can be identified by attending to physical and mental signals, for example, muscle pain, tension, and stress. I know when my fatigue is real because it always happens when I don’t take breaks after doing a lot of things in the day.
- Do something about it even when you don’t want to and try to have a successful day. Stress has a lot to do with “mental” fatigue. When you feel that you don’t want to do anything, but there is no fundamental reason why you feel that way, then you are having false tiredness.
Most of the time, I decide on the second option.
This is because I am sure that my “fatigue” has nothing to do with reality. And that my “tiredness” is only in my mind.
There are habits that make you feel that way, and the best way to be productive on these types of days is to break them; here, I will show you ten.
1. Don’t take rest or take long rests
This is one habit that most affects me when I feel low in a day.
Sometimes I feel that to be productive, I must try to work for a long period to complete all my tasks. But doing that causes the opposite.
That’s because your willpower is finite. And the more you have to use it when you don’t want to do something, the faster it ends.
When you no longer have the energy to continue working, you will not continue as much as you want.
Take a long break is also a problem. When I don’t feel like doing anything, I get distracted easily. If it’s for me, I spend 1-hour watching Tiktoks and only 15 minutes doing what I have to do.
For this reason, the first habit that you should break when you feel lazy is not to take any breaks or a very long one.
Investigations confirm that short breaks dramatically improve concentration and productivity. Why?
The biological clock works in two ways:
- Cardiac rhythms
- Ultradian rhythms
Circadian rhythms, which develop over 24-hour periods, consist of melatonin's natural release and regulate when we are full of energy or exhausted.
Ultradian rhythms, which are developed in periods of 90 minutes, are the ups and downs of energy that we have during the day.
For example, we can be focused for 90 minutes, but after that period, we will feel a little tired, and we will need to recharge our energy.
So the best way I have found to break the habit of resting for a long time is to control these moments.
I don’t necessarily use the Pomodoro technique; just when I feel tired I look at the clock, and I say to myself, “until this moment, I will be off the desk.”
2. Skip meals because you need “to keep working”
Many times I have heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But I think that all of them are as important as the first one.
Even the breakfast is going to prepare you for the day, the other meals are what will refill your energy and keep you up.
When our mental energy is almost gone, it is much easier for our brain to go into a “survival” mode in which “no” by default is the easy option.
When we are hungry and tired, it is much easier to make bad choices that require less effort (even though we know perfectly well what the good choices are).
Believing that you can’t eat because you have to focus on your work will do the opposite of what you want. Because when you run out of energy, you cannot move forward even if you want to.
For that reason, I never skip any meal.
Something that helps me to rest a bit when I’m working without energy is to have on my desk nuts or chocolate, and when I need a break, I eat. That helps me recover a bit to get back into my focus mood.
3. Don’t set SMART goals
Smart goals are goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Related objectives we can set up for a day, week, or month.
When we are distracted, being clear about what we are going to do in the day forces us to be productive.
One reason I feel lazy in a day is that I feel like I have too many things to do, and I don’t know where to start. But when I plan goals that really have a beginning and an end, I realize it is not as difficult as it seems.
To achieve SMART goals, I use the to-do list technique following this parameter:
- Write what I have to do in the simplest way possible. For example, instead of “I have to write,” I put “write an article from my childhood where I talk about how I decided to choose software.”
- I put time into that task. For example: write 1000 words in 2 hours.
- I try to see if what I want to achieve is possible. If not, I change the aim. If I can’t write 1000 words in two hours, then I change to 500 words.
- I write only what I need to achieve today.
4. Work with your cellphone on your desk
I know most of us are completely guilty of this one. It is a temptation to have our social media on our computer or our phone close in case of any emergency.
But having your phone or any other things on your desk is a big distraction that will stop you from working on your lazy day.
If you know you don’t feel productive, having distractions close will make you keep failing to “I need to review something quickly” and having new excuses that keep you in that mood.
It doesn’t matter if you turn off the notifications. The simple fact that is there will not let you concentrate better. The best thing you can do is keep it away from your work zone.
I’m not saying that you can’t use it during the day. When it is my moment of rest, I go from the desk to the living room to see what is new. But having him away made me realize that my work zone is only for that: to work.
5. Postpone important things for later
One of the biggest lies I told myself when I don’t want to do things is: I can recover tomorrow and do double.
But I never make it. This perfect tomorrow in which I do double things never come. So never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
But you don’t have to be 100% productive and do all the things you do on a normal day. It’s almost impossible to be as good as you are when you are full of energy.
Something that helped me to do things is don’t be a perfectionist. If on a normal day I wrote 1000 words, then today I am only going to write 500.
Progress is progress, no matter how small you think it is.
I have realized that even though I can’t do a complete article on a lazy day, I can have a lot of good ideas. And the next day, when I’m editing what I did, I realize the only thing that stopped me from making a perfect post was my mind.
6. Be your own critic
When I’m lazy, I constantly feel disappointed in myself for not being able to achieve the things that I propose to do. But instead of helping, this makes you feel depressed or anxious.
Instead of blaming yourself, start thinking about the things you can achieve even without energy.
You don’t have to be perfect all the time. Humans are full of ups and downs. Being able to do even small things when you are down, it’s admirable.
Start doing things even if you don’t think you are doing it well. You can fix them tomorrow. Today just focus on creating.
Doing something wrong is much better than doing nothing. Because when something is imperfect, you can fix it later. But you can’t edit anything.
7. Not having decision-making capacity
When I feel lazy, I can’t decide what I want to do. Sometimes even the simplest question makes me wonder for hours what would be the best option.
This makes me waste a lot of time getting things done, and therefore I end up not working.
The best thing you can do when you feel this way is not to make big decisions.
Just focus on things that you can do automatically, or try to make the day as simple as possible. Focus on what you need to solve today. And put all your energies into achieving it.
If something is not so important to decide today, it is best to wait until tomorrow. It is not worth making a bad decision because of a bad mood.
8. Say yes to everything
If you can’t handle your own tasks, it’s wrong to commit to things that other people asked you.
Saying yes to everything is a way to please the other. You probably think that if you commit to doing something, you will have to do it, and it’s a way to be productive.
But if you know you cannot do it, you will only disappoint others when you cannot do anything.
I realized that saying yes to everyone, knowing that I don’t have the courage to do it, has only increased my anxiety because I will not be able to achieve what they want.
For this reason, the best thing you can do is not commit to anyone, at least today.
9. Have many activities for the day
I had a bad habit of writing many tasks that I could do when I was feeling lazy. In this way, I believed that my mind was going to get busy and start working again.
Honestly, this only does the opposite effect. Having many activities on a day that I felt lazy just overwhelmed me more than I already was, and I ended the day without being able to do any of them.
I realized that by planning to do only what was necessary and leaving things for later that were not necessary, I could manage to do everything without any problem.
The fewer tasks you have, and the easier they seem to you, the faster you will focus on finishing them all.
Something that helps me decide what to do on the day is to ask myself:
Am I going to need it tomorrow?
When something would help me to be better in the morning. I do it today. Prioritize the urgent, and leave what you don’t need.
This way, you can focus on what really matters.
10. Have a messy space or with a lot of stuff
Having my workspace cluttered makes me feel that I can’t do anything because of that.
That’s because I have too many things around that can distract me, and even if I want to work, many things around me don’t let me focus.
Also, I feel that when my desk is messy, my mind is that way too.
For that reason, something that helped me a lot to start being productive again is to clean everything before start working.
I try to move everything that is not necessary or helps my productivity before I start working. Normally I just leave my computer, a cup of water and the nuts.
I have realized that in this way, my mind focuses more on just what I have to do: produce content.
Sometimes we feel tired after many days of hard work, I consider those days are worth doing absolutely nothing in the day and resting the mind.
But there are also days when we feel lazy for no reason, and breaking these habits makes us feel like this can help us be more productive.
The goal is not to be busy. As much as you want to fill your schedule with activities, the only thing you will achieve is not to complete any of them.
Productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about what you can achieve.