It happens, even to the achievers among us. Sometimes, we don’t feel like doing anything at work.
We’re stuck. Frozen, even (and not the Disney kind.)
Oh sure, we can hear that teeny voice in our head saying, “Hey! There’s lots to do! Get busy, slacker!”
But we just can’t find those jumper cables for our brain.
If you don’t feel like doing anything at work, try these simple strategies to get unstuck and get in gear now.
What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything at Work: My Four Proven Strategies
1. Stop beating yourself up.
Calling yourself bad names isn’t helping.
Lazy. Slacker. Unmotivated blob. You get the drill. Fill in your creative self-loathing description here: ________________________.
And worrying is a waste, too. It’s your brain’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re doing something.
But all you’re doing is shifting concerns from one side of your mind to another, like moving weight from one leg to the next while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. The shifting gives you a perception that you’re moving—but really, you’re still stuck behind the guy with 12 items in the 10-items-and-under line.
The truth is that we all overestimate what we can do in a day. We have superpowers, but we’re not superhuman.
And, as life strategist Tony Robbins says, we drastically underestimate what we can do over a lifetime. It’s all the little steps that count.
So let’s come clean and stop talking smack to the person most accountable for your future success—and that’s you.
2. Switch your surroundings.
I stared at the same stack of papers for weeks. I even touched it once and awhile, shuffling it like a deck of cards thinking that whatever actions are buried within will reveal themselves differently or will magically get done.
So I finally grabbed that stack and took it with me to my favorite sandwich shop. Suddenly, I became ready to handle each piece in the stack. I tossed, reacted, or marked it for my files.
On the surface, it would have made more sense to do this in my office. But it just wasn’t happening.
Changing your environment can help you change your energy, and your mind. And where the mind goes, our actions soon follow.
3. Track what you DO do.
I heard this from a very accomplished and very awesome private coaching client of mine.
“I can’t seem to get anything done.”
Which just seemed like crazy talk, because I knew that if this person was doing NOTHING she wouldn’t be who she is or where she is.
But she found it hard to believe me. She’d trained herself to believe the fairytale that she SHOULD be getting more done (ahem, see strategy #1 above).
So I pulled out my secret weapon.
I love IDoneThis, because they’ll send you an email at the end each day that just asks, “What’d you get done today?” You can answer however you want—right there in email.
For me, it helps me do a fast mental scan of my day, and jot those things down (ahhh. . . coaching call with David, coaching call with Angela, updated blog post, took a walk, dropped off my cleaning, threw out the leftovers in the fridge. . . whatever.)
It helps me take credit for the wins and recognize all the good stuff that DID get done.
Every so often, your IDoneThis note will remind you what you did last week, or last month. Which is kinda cool since it’s easy to forget all those little things—the little things that make up your life.
I’ve been using this tool for years, ever since my author-idol Dan Pink mentioned it (and later, invested moola in the startup). The company has moved on to focus primarily on team and company use (leaders: wouldn’t it be nice to know what everyone on your team has done today?), but the “hobby” or personal version linked here is still free.
(BTW, I have no personal affiliation; I’m just a fan.)
Finally, my favorite thing to do when you don’t feel like doing anything . . .
4. Get some rest.
Ever think that maybe you’re just plain exhausted? Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally?
Maybe you just need a nap. A day off. Or even just a few hours.
I’m not being sarcastic. Think of it this way.
How much energy are you using spinning around worrying about the fact that you don’t feel like doing anything at work? How much energy is getting eaten up thinking about things that really don’t matter? About things you can’t control (remembering that the three things you can control are spelled out here)?
Maybe your brain or body or both need a break.
Don’t pretend it’s a waste of time. There’s so much great biological and neurological science today about the benefits of sleep and rest that you can’t ignore.
Sometimes, we have to slow down to speed up.