So a few days ago, I got really demotivated.
I woke up that morning knowing I have a whole lot of stuff to do. Though I knew there’s a lot of work, I was actually looking forward to doing it because it’s the kind of work I sincerely like doing.
I first had to run some errands and got to doing the work only in the afternoon. Just as I was about to start working, I realised I just can’t be bothered. You see, this work is the kind of work I do for myself – I am my own boss at this job, there’s nobody watching over my shoulder. Nothing disastrous is going to happen if I simply slack off (nothing good either, of course).
If you have tasks that only you hold yourself accountable for, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to do nothing.
So that day, instead of doing everything I had planned, I just wasted several hours browsing random stuff on the web. Several hours that did not produce anything, did not make me a better person, and didn’t even provide me with much entertainment or relaxation. Complete waste.
That got me thinking: why did I lose motivation like that? It wasn’t the first time this had happened. Does this occur randomly? Or could there be a pattern to all the times that I lack motivation to do what I should be doing?
So, over these last few days, I’ve mulling over the subject. In addition, I also poured through my journal entries for the last couple of years, looking for words that particularly hint at being unmotivated that day. Since my journal is on my computer, it’s easy to do these kinds of searches.
All in all, I discovered that there are quite a few things that increase the chance of being lazy, unmotivated or just generally unproductive on a particular day.
The reason I’m publishing these here is that I’m sure I’m not the only one that some of these apply to.
1. I have been over-analysing
I know that when I’m facing a problem or a challenge, I tend to study and analyse the topic to death. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – I typically end up very well informed on the subject that I’m dealing with.
But the truth is, the world, and especially the internet, is just too full of information, whichever topic you dig into. Plus, most challenging things are simply way too complicated for there to be one good answer or way of approaching it.
Often, after spending hours reading blog posts, forum discussion and watching videos, I just feel overwhelmed. I feel like, “It’s just way too complicated; it’s easier to give up and not do anything.”
I have now been actively trying to limit the time I allow myself to do theoretical research on any particular day. It’s okay to read a bit, but after a while, I make sure I bookmark anything that may come useful, close all the tabs in my browser and simply get to work.
This way I can strike a good balance between being informed on the subject without cooking my brain and actually doing something useful.
2. I have eaten too much, too heavy
So my girlfriend and I went out for lunch. My plate alone had a sizeable meal on it. To complement that, my girlfriend felt full after eating half of hers and, while nobody was looking, swapped plates with me, so I had to finish her portion as well. Add to that eating more than my fair share of bread (it was free, you know!).
I’m not a huge guy so all of that was way too much for me. Interestingly, I didn’t feel this immediately. Several hours later I was feeling really really tired and didn’t want to do anything. Thinking of that meal earlier, it clicked instantly: all those carbs and all that heavy protein – it’s only natural my body was feeling tired trying to digest all that.
The moral of the story (at least for myself): eat only as much as you need to. Don’t overeat, even if it’s free. Eat fruit and fresh vegetables – they are light, full of vitamins and full of fluid, which brings us to the next point.
3. I didn’t drink enough (water, that is)
I won’t repeat here how humans are composed of so-and-so many percent water and how you should drink so-and-so many glasses of water per day. You’ve heard it all a million times before.
The punchline is this: you need to drink water. Coffee and beer don’t count as water.
For the most part, I’m a really good (water)drinker. I drink more than almost anyone I know and it’s good.
However, I too sometimes forget or just don’t have the opportunity to keep myself properly hydrated throughout the day. This instantly has an effect on me. I feel slower, I think slower. I might even get a light headache.
So this bit is a reminder to both you and myself that we all should consume healthy amounts of water every day if we are to feel good and stay energetic. Tip: I like to add a slice of lemon or lime to a glass of water – it simply creates a more varied experience out of the fairly dull act of drinking water.
4. I have a mess around me
I admit it, I’m not the tidiest person around. I don’t stack all my books neatly. I don’t always immediately put every file into the correct folder it’s supposed to go into. I tend to thrive in just a bit of “creative chaos” around me.
The problem is, I sometimes take it a bit too far. Having a whole bunch of random documents, gadgets, USB cables and whatnot around my computer is just bad for my motivation and productivity. I know having this mess on my desk has a subconscious effect on me, and it’s not a good one.
After noticing this tendency, I have made it a point to regularly clean my desk of everything that’s not immediately necessary for my current work. If I need it, I can always get it out from the drawer.
5. I had bad posture
This is not a conjecture; it’s a scientific fact that the way you maintain your posture has huge effects on your mood and self-image. Sometimes I would just slump over in my chair and spend hours like this trying to do something useful. Or I would be out on the move spending lots of time staring at my smartphone, looking downward and wrecking my thumb.
If you want to feel good and energetic, assume a posture that you would have if you felt good and energetic. Keep your back straight, push shoulders backward and your chest out. Assume this posture whenever you are sitting down or standing or walking – that is, pretty much all the time.
Here’s a bonus tip: if you are feeling down and don’t know how to get out of this state, do the following. Go somewhere where nobody can see you and throw your hands up in the air like a champ. Like you’ve just won the Olympic Gold for running a marathon. Also, put a huge grin on your face. Yes, you’ll feel like a dumbass. But stay like this for a minute or two. Trust me, you’ll feel much better and way more powerful than you did before.
6. I didn’t move around
This is somewhat related to the above, but is not the same. You are not simply a mind; you don’t merely exist in a mental space. You have a body and your mental well-being is reliant on how your body feels.
When your body stays almost still for extended periods of time, your mental state starts suffering. Blood doesn’t flow around as freely, muscles becoming stiff and so on.
I always try to stick some good movement into my day. This might be an extended walk or even a short exercise routine with basic calisthenics, stretches and some weights. Almost any physical effort or movement is better than none.
The big idea here though is not that you should avoid doing the above things. The most important lesson is that many of our activities that we voluntarily do or avoid doing throughout the day may affect how we feel or act later on.
Most of these activities are different from person to person. If you want to stay on top of your moods and be in your best mental shape every day, take the time to think these things through.
Take some time to analyse which actions trigger which kinds of moods/mental states in you throughout the day. Anything you notice, write it down. After a while, you will have a whole collection of useful observations and you can start experimenting around by either avoiding some activities or, on the opposite, incorporating them into your daily routine.
That way, you will naturally start doing more of the stuff that’s good for you and less of the stuff that’s bad for you. Both are crucial parts of personal development and will result in better motivation, productivity and, guess what, happiness.
What are some your activities that tend to bring you down? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Image credit: Tears of a Clown by Feans