Chalk this up as one of the worst feelings one can have.
You know you could do more with your life.
In your imagination, everything works out well — you’re productive, your ideas come to fruition, you get things done. In reality, the opposite is true.
That’s the worst part about laziness. You know what you’re capable of but laziness has a blackhole-like gravitational force that seems to pull you back to earth each time you try to improve your life.
You want to know how to stop being lazy. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m the master of how to stop being lazy because I used to be the master being lazy.
These stories will prove overcoming laziness is possible for you — they are that horrendously lacking in motivation. Once you see the depths I’ve risen from, you’ll be inspired to rise too.
Confessions of a Former Lazy Person
Do me a favor, okay?
Try not to laugh…
Or shake your head…
…too much at least.
You’re about to read some of the laziest of lazy stories you’ll ever see anywhere.
- I once paid a friend to wash my dishes because I was too lazy to do them myself. When the dishes piled up again, I threw them all away and got paper plates and silverware instead.
- I once received a 0.00 GPA in college and I wasn’t even smart enough to drop out. I paid for those classes I didn’t go to.
- While high as a kite, I watched every episode of every season of Law and Order: SVU in the span of a week. I never left my apartment and only got up from watching the show to eat, go to the bathroom, or sleep.
At one point in my life, my laziness turned into depression. Nothing inspired me to want to leave the house.
I know what it’s like to feel the weight of life holding you back from the life you could be living.
How did I make the transition?
There were a lot of steps along the way, but there was one key step that kicked everything off.
The #1 Antidote to Laziness
I once wrote an article called The Secret to Starting a Successful Morning Routine.
Here’s an excerpt from it:
“The secret to starting a morning routine is having a reason to get up in the first place.“
Most productivity methods like starting a morning routine don’t work because they’re missing the most important ingredient — a reason, an incentive, a ‘why’, a purpose.
Your brain is like a scale. It uses incentives to weigh choices against one another. Without a good enough reason to tip it to the ‘do something’ side, you never will.
To this day, I’m still not a very productive person outside of the things I’m curious about and want to get really good at.
That mission and purpose drive my motivation. Consequently, the motivation fueled by my curiosity spills into other areas of my life and makes me more well rounded.
How do you find your mission?
Here is a 4,000 word guide I wrote on the topic.
I’ve also written two books about the subject.
The answer to getting that initial spark to find your passion and purpose isn’t easy. Anyone who pretends like it is isn’t being honest or they’re delusional.
At some point, you will have to create that first teeny tiny amount of inertia to get things started. No self-help book or article can do that for you.
But it is important to know that a lack of motivation is a symptom of something deeper and that you will fail if you continue to aimlessly try to be more productive.
Let’s say you do have that initial inkling though. How do you stay on track with your new hobby, goal, business, path, etc? How do you stop being lazy long enough to see your work bear fruit?
This I can help you with.
The Free Will Myth
Spoiler alert: you’re not as in control of your behavior, beliefs, thoughts, decisions, and circumstances as you think.
You are, what author Scott Adams calls, a ‘moist robot.’ Here’s an excerpt from his blog post about the ‘moist robot hypothesis’
“I believe rationality is overrated, and thus we miss a huge opportunity. If we could accept that humans are fundamentally irrational, we could program ourselves for higher levels of happiness and productivity than we currently enjoy.”
If you can accept the fact that you’re fundamentally flawed and incapable of changing your life through sheer willpower, you will try more useful ways to increase your motivation like:
- Changing your environment — The cliches are true, e.g., can’t lose weight with cookies in the house, can’t think straight in a cluttered work environment, can’t be positive hanging around negative people
- Creating a schedule — I carve out the same time to write each day. Beyond that, my calendar is a bit “meh”, but that hour or two time block changed my life forever
- Learning the power of habits and reward systems — I won’t dive too deep into this topic, you can read any of these great habit books for depth, but creating habitual patterns makes motivation stick
In a way, realizing you don’t have so much control over yourself can be freeing because you know you need systems and new belief systems instead of willpower.
The idea of your wiring being messed up is better than thinking you are unable to operate a well-oiled machine.
Accept who you are in this moment, admit you need help, and start those incremental steps toward doing something that fulfills you. That’s my entire recipe.
I found writing, loved it, cultivated it into a habit, and used it as the driver for everything else in my life.
Start the process of discovery and action.
Then, the productivity methods, tips, and tricks will actually work.
Here are some of my favorites.
The Seinfeld Strategy
Apparently Jerry Seinfeld never actually used this strategy, but it’s catchy so I’m going to use it.
According to the myth, Jerry made a commitment to writing at least one joke per day. When he successfully wrote his joke, he would mark an ‘x’ on a calendar. Eventually, he formed a chain of x’s, which made a motivating visual cue to ‘keep the chain growing.’
I once used this strategy to work out 6 days per week for 120 days straight and lose 30 pounds. I’ve used it to build all sorts of new habits.
This speaks to the environmental factors we talked about earlier. Any type of cue or trigger you create can help nudge your behavior in the right direction.
The Pomodoro Technique
The technique is simple.
Block out time to do an important task.
To stay focused during that time period, break it up into chunks of 25 minutes. Work without interruption for twenty-five minutes, take five minutes off and repeat for another 25 minutes until your time block is over.
During my five minute breaks, I try to walk around or stretch instead of checking my phone or browsing the internet.
Using these short bursts can help if you have trouble staying focused for a long time. I like the technique because it gives me definitive numbers to be proud of. I can know for certain that when I block out two hours to work I actually worked for an hour and forty minutes of that time.
Too often, we are active but not productive. You can be kinetic and ineffective at the same time. Visit any office and you’ll see this. Or check statistics about how much time workers in these settings actually spend time doing work.
In a world full of insanely incessant interruption, a few short periods of zoned-in time can make a world of difference.
Getting Up Early As Hell
Not another self-help guru telling you to wake up at 5 a.m.
Look, I would rather not suggest you do this, trust me.
Waking up at 5 a.m. isn’t always a walk in the park, but it is useful.
See, I know something about you the other gurus don’t.
You have a lot going on in your life that is genuinely getting in the way of spending dedicated time improving your life. From work to kids to errands there is a lot of ground to cover. And, for your sanity, you do need time for your family and friends.
Waking up at 5 a.m. is simply one of your best options to get things done before the daily hustle, bustle, and shuffle begins.
As I said, you need to find a good reason to wake up that early or it won’t work. If you do find that reason, you can and will wake up.
And you’ll get used to it after awhile. I don’t know if you’ll ever like it (I wake up at 5 a.m. or so every day and I’m never going to consider myself a morning person), but you’ll like being more effective and putting energy toward a task that means something to you.
There you have it. Three simple techniques you can try after you’ve addressed the underlying problem. No need to bog you down with “50 productivity tips.”
To wrap things up, I’d like to leave some final words I think will help you.
It’s Possible For You Still, Right Now, No Matter What Has Already Happened
I know what you’re thinking.
You’ve been on this rodeo before. More times than you can count.
Failing over and over again can drive a nail into your mental coffin, but it hasn’t yet. Not for you.
Why? Because you’re reading this right now. If you were too far gone, you wouldn’t bother.
I don’t know your exact situation, but I can speak from experience in saying that your life can be radically different in the not too distant future given you take that first step as many times as you need to until it sticks.
It’s time to have honest conversations about self-help. The totality of human experience is a lot to deal with for anybody.
To sit here and tell you it will be easy, or that your bootstraps will be strong, would be doing you a disservice.
There may be times where your life really sucks and that pit of laziness and despair will seem to deep to climb out of.
But there are also those sparks, inklings, waves of motivation where you feel like it is still possible.
Ride those waves when you can and try not to beat yourself too much when the tide is too high.