Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself to do something? Do you have trouble pushing aside the laziness in order to get work done? Aren’t you lucky you found this article today! I’ve found a very simple easy trick that has helped me accept the laziness while I also get done what needs to get done. And I’m here to share it with you.
Combat Laziness 15 Minutes at a Time
I love my downtime. Love sitting in my recliner with my laptop open, working on one of my many pet projects. I enjoy binge-watching my latest show addiction on Netflix. And getting hooked into a good book and not being able to think of anything else until (and after) it’s read. All of these are what I consider ‘my hobbies,’ despite my husband’s claims that none of them qualify as an actual hobby. It’s how I like to spend my spare time.
However, I also like to have clean laundry, a clean house, clean dishes, and home-cooked meals! While my husband and children help around the house, it’s still up to me to keep it all working. And let’s face it, many times I end up doing most of the work because the kids have homework, they’re at practice, or it’s just easier to do it myself rather than to delegate.
I’m Not Always Lazy
Some days I have the natural motivation to do all the things I need to do, and when my husband is ready to watch some TV with me in the evening, I don’t even want to sit down because I am on such a roll. I’m marking things off my list left and right, and I’m soaking up such a sense of satisfaction!
Other days I have enough motivation to get the basic things done that need to be done – help the kids with homework, cook and clean up supper, do a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, pick up a few things around the house – and then I feel ready to crash in the recliner.
But then there are those days… They are the days when I feel like doing absolutely nothing. From the time I wake up in the morning, nothing that I’m supposed to do sounds remotely interesting. If I can get away with it, I spend all of my spare time wasted on my computer, phone, or TV. I have a case of laziness!
Why It Bothers Me
I frequently feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks on my to-do list. It doesn’t bother me every day, but probably once a week I feel the weight of the sheer number of things I have to remember, turn in, take care of, keep up with, or otherwise get done. I look back at hours or days I wasted, and wish I could find a way to make myself be more consistently productive.
When I’m living one of those days of laziness, I struggle a bit in my head. Essentially, I feel the responsibility to work before I play. And when I don’t want to work, I feel guilty about playing. The longer the laziness continues, the stronger the feeling of guilt. By the end of the day, I feel quite a sense of self-loathing because I have nothing to show for my day, and it feels as though I’ve just been extremely selfish with my time. One of my kids may say something to make me realize that I haven’t engaged with them, which makes me feel more guilty. My husband may ask something innocent like “How was your day?” and I get really defensive and dive into why I had the right to take it easy that day.
My ‘Aha’ Moment
Several years ago, I was having one of those days of laziness. Upon reflection, I realized that in a normal 12-hour Saturday, I probably only got about 2 hours of real work done. Maybe I did it all at once, maybe I spread it out, but the difference was that I didn’t feel bad about my level of accomplishment. Maybe I’d spent lots of time just hanging out with my family, watching TV with my husband, or maybe we’d gone on some sort of outing. And if I was lucky, I had intermittently gotten laundry and other things done along the way.
So it occurred to me that if I could force myself to get 2 hours of work done during the day, that I could still count it as a win. And other than those 2 hours, just be okay with having a lazy day. It sounded better to me to spread out the work throughout the day. Maybe if I could just work for 15 minutes, and then I could take a break for 15-30 minutes?
I know… I can set a timer!
Combating Laziness 15 Minutes at a Time
So I tried it. I set a timer for 15 minutes and agreed with myself that I’d work diligently for those 15 minutes. I gathered and sorted laundry, started a load, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded it, and wiped all the counters in those 15 minutes! It was amazing what I could accomplish in that short of a time!
What was more amazing was that I almost didn’t want to stop when the timer went off! I wasn’t quite done wiping the counters when the alarm sounded, but I went ahead and finished that task.
And then I set an alarm for my break. I was so happy with my accomplishments so far and was starting to look around and plan all the things I would do with my next 15-minute session. I decided that I would just take a 15-minute break. During my break, I was able to truly relax and enjoy the downtime. I had already accomplished more than I thought I would for the day, and I knew that my break had an end.
During the next work session, I picked up around the house, made my bed, and swept the porch. Afterward, I took a 30-minute break.
My cycle of timers continued throughout the morning so that I lost count of how much work I completed. I just kept doing 15-minute work sessions, alternating with varying lengths of breaks, until I felt like what I needed to get done was done.
Why it Worked
I had finally found a way to trick my brain into being productive. During those bouts of laziness, I would look ahead at my whole day and all that I was supposed to accomplish, and just feel overwhelmed because my motivation did not match my expected output. So I would just feel like giving up. And that would make me feel guilty. Then that would make me feel bad about myself and unhappy with my day. But somehow, none of that would motivate me to work!
Like I said, most days, it doesn’t hit me that way. But occasionally, I just can’t kick the feeling of laziness.
There’s an End in Sight
But when I compromise with just doing 15 minutes of work, something changes in my brain. I don’t see a whole day of work ahead of me; it’s just 15 minutes! I can do that! It’s a short amount of time. I know there’s a definite end. And I know I will get to be lazy as soon as it’s over. Even if all I do is one 15-minute session, I will have accomplished more for the day than I would have otherwise. And at least I can look back at my day and know that I ticked a couple of things off my list.
I Get Going and Don’t Want to Stop
Another miraculous thing that happens is that when I start working, I often receive the motivation to keep working. Sometimes when I set my timer, it goes off, and I just keep doing what I’m doing. I find myself vacuuming or cleaning a bathroom or organizing a cabinet and I don’t want to stop. Or maybe instead of getting 2 hours of total work done, I end up continuing the 15-minute sessions throughout the day and get 3 or 4 hours done. And still tons of hours of sitting around doing what I want!
The whole reason I felt self-loathing on my lazy days was that I hadn’t accomplished anything. Even one 15-minute session is enough to banish that feeling. And if the feeling returns later in the day because I feel like I didn’t get enough done, I just start the 15-minute sessions again.
If I only have 5 minutes of work in me, I can still set a timer and get a bit done. I set the timer depending on how I’m feeling, and my overall time frame. Maybe in an evening after work, I know I have a lot to do, but I really only have 2 hours to play with. In that case, I may set a timer for 30 minutes, take a 15-minute break, and then work for another 30 minutes.
I can set my work sessions and my ‘play’ sessions for as long as I want them to be. And I can continue to adjust them throughout the day.
I Use it at Work Too…
My workplace setting is actually very structured. I do not get to just ‘do my work’ throughout the day at my leisure. I have certain things that happen at certain times and then planned downtime. During most of my day, I’m interacting with other people and can only rarely try to get tasks done simultaneously. So you would think that when I have my planned downtime I would use it wisely and get everything marked off my to-do list. Right?
Well, yes, most of the time. But again, I have those days…
My downtime may only be 45 minutes, but if I set a timer for 10, and then break for 10, it allows me to have the time to sit and scroll through Facebook or play solitaire or whatever seems to make me happy at the time. I can feel good knowing that I’ve accomplished something on what would have otherwise been a worthless day.
…With my Kids…
If my three kids are around, in theory, we should get four times the amount of work done in a day (they’re all over the age of 10). But kids are even less able than I am to self-motivate just for the sake of a clean house. So on a housecleaning Saturday I need to get the whole house cleaned. But I’m trying to muster the motivation of four people to get it all done. I’m persuading, and pulling, and arguing with my kids. And I find that the 15-minute rule works better than all my nagging.
Let’s all do our jobs and work really hard for 15 minutes, and then we can all take a break! (What kid doesn’t like the word ‘break?’) It’s easier for them to power through knowing that it won’t last very long. And it’s easier for me to keep them motivated when I know I only have to do it for 15 minutes. When the cleaning session is up, we’re both happy to take a break!
…Even on Vacation
Nothing makes me lazier than a vacation. I like to sit… and read. And that’s about it. Whether sitting in a lounge chair by the pool or the beach or sitting by a campfire, I like nothing better than forgetting everything about my normal life and its stressors and getting sucked into a riveting storyline. It’s nice to only have to worry about little things. Picking up the hotel room a bit. Getting everyone ready for dinner out. Or cooking a meal by the campfire a couple of times a day. And that’s it.
While I’m sitting there reading my book, sometimes I can’t even relax. I’m thinking that I should be picking up the clothes strewn about the room. I should go ahead and get ready for dinner so I can be available to help my girls fix their hair later. “I can’t just leave those dirty dishes on the table next to the camper all day!” So I alternate between reading my book and feeling guilty and fretting. Finally, I decide that I will just get up and spend 15 minutes of my time doing something productive so that I can actually enjoy the rest of the day!
And after a few days of ‘vacation’ mentality, it usually brings on those days that are hard for me to find my good work ethic again. It’s hard to shift back into the normal life routine. The one where you have to cook all your own meals, change your own sheets, do laundry, vacuum, and clean toilets. (Aside from going to work and toting kids to and fro.)
Always Fall Back on… 15 Minutes at a Time
So once again, I go set a timer, get my 15 minutes of work done, and then sit and finish the book I started while on vacation… 15 minutes at a time!
Have you tried this method of combating laziness? How has it worked for you? Have you adjusted it in some way that works even better?