How to Get Things Done When the Motivation Just Isn't There
Leigh Weingus •
Believe it or not, you really can get the things done you want to get done—even when the motivation isn't quite there. But let's face it: Life gets in the way! We get burned out, tired, or we just have an off day — and suddenly we’re left wondering how we can possibly get things done when we have zero motivation.
First, we want to remind you of the importance of being gentle with yourself. Oftentimes when we don’t feel motivated—especially over long stretches of time—it can be a sign that there’s something larger at play. Maybe you’re dealing with depression (lack of motivation is one of the telltale signs), or you have so much on your plate at work or home that your brain just gives up and you don't want to do anything in your free time.
If your lack of motivation spans longer than a few days, we encourage you to look within and do some journaling to gain a greater understanding of what’s really going on, and if necessary, seek the help of a mental health provider.
That being said, if you’re in a “blah” mood or phase that you’re pretty sure will pass, here are our top tips for getting things done when you have zero motivation.
1. Find your “why”
Productivity experts will tell you that one of the best things to do when you’re having trouble getting things done is to remind yourself of why you want to get it done in the first place. For example, if you’re having a hard time meal prepping on Sundays, remind yourself that you’re doing a favor to your future self: By setting aside enough time for meal prep on Sundays, you’re setting yourself up for a healthier, less chaotic week.
2. Do the thing you don’t want to do first thing in the morning
While studies show that it really doesn’t matter what time of day you exercise from a health perspective, most trainers will encourage their clients to exercise first thing in the morning for the simple reason that they’re so tired that they can’t talk themselves out of it or come up with an excuse.
When we wait all day to exercise, we have plenty of time to come up with excuses not to do it, or actual things can come up, like a childcare issue or an invitation to do something that sounds more appealing. So if you’re having trouble knocking certain items off your to-do list due to time management issues, try doing them first thing in the morning.
3. Ask a friend, family member, or colleague to hold you accountable
It’s not always fun to get that reminder text that you need to do something, but it can really help. If you’re having trouble getting something done, ask someone you trust to hold you accountable by calling or sending a text asking if you did the paperwork for your child’s school, took out the trash, started working on that big presentation for work, the list goes on.
4. Get to the root of why getting things done is so difficult for you
We already touched on this a bit, but if you’re having a hard time getting things done, ask yourself why that is and why you can't stay focused. If it’s a work task, could it be because you’re burned out, or simply not that interested in your job in general? If it’s little things around the house, is it because you’re procrastinating and spending too much time on your phone? Could there be something bigger at play, like a mental health issue? Getting to the root of why you’re struggling to get things done is a great first step to actually getting things done—and it will allow you to keep going.
5. Try using a habit tracker or downloading a productivity app
There are plenty of tools out there that exist for the sole purpose of helping people get things done. At Silk + Sonder, we’re a huge fan of habit trackers — and one is included in every issue — but there are also a handful of apps out there that will hold you accountable. Some popular productivity apps include Hive, Todoist, Calendly, and more.
6. Learn to ask for help
If you’re having a hard time getting things done, it’s worth asking yourself if there’s simply too much on your plate. If that’s the case, can you ask for help? Can you delegate? If you can offload a few tasks to your colleagues and partner, you may find that your to-do list feels a lot more manageable — and that you no longer have any issues getting things done.
While it can be frustrating to feel like you just don’t have the motivation to get things done, a few simple tweaks to your routine, an extra 15 minutes, and a different mindset could be all it takes to make a change — and help you feel a lot better, too.
Looking for more great content? Here are 8 ways to get your mind off of something you can’t stop thinking about.