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The Struggle is Real: What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Doing Anything

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As an entrepreneur, we all have those times where we don't feel like doing anything. Throw on the stresses of everyday life or a mental illness like depression or bipolar, and sometimes, you have a recipe for disaster. (Yup, totally know that one.) Even when you don't feel like doing anything, sometimes... you just have to do it anyway. What then?

 What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Doing Anything

Figure out if you don't feel like doing anything for a real reason.

Most of the time, when I don't feel like doing anything, I stop and ask myself these three questions:

Have I been taking care of myself lately?

I'm a workaholic, and you probably are, too! Those of us who love our jobs work tend to throw ourselves full-force into working. And that's just not healthy if you aren't taking care of yourself. I evaluate if I have been eating enough (three meals a day), drinking enough (being hydrated is super important), getting enough sleep (at least 8 hours), and taking a little me time (we all need it!)

If the answer is no to any of the above, then that becomes the first priority: fix what's broken.

Am I afraid of something?

Fears have a strange little way of working themselves into the back of our thoughts and uprooting our passions. Sometimes, a fear starts holding us back before we even know we're afraid. I always sit down and dig deep, and do a little self talk to see if I'm afraid of screwing something up, having a negative reaction to a project, or maybe a fear of missing out.

Do I need to change things up?

I am not a creature of habit or routine. We're all wired differently, some folks need a steady routine. That's not me. After a few days (if I'm lucky, a few weeks) of going about my day in a particular routine, I have to switch things up. If I check out on the previous two questions, it usually comes down to me being tired of doing the same old, same old.

Instead of following the norm, get creative and move your routine around a bit.

Fuel the power to get motivated.

If I eat, breathe, and sleep my work, then music absolutely must be pulsing in my veins. We all have something that drives us, whether that's meditation, yoga, exercise, getting outside, or turning up the volume on our favorite tunes.

I have a short list of songs that are guaranteed to get me moving in the right direction, even when I'm depressed, sick, or tired. After finding my groove, I usually transition over to Songza or Spotify, and pop on a playlist to keep me moving.

Cater to your easy, fun, or favorite tasks first.

We all have tasks that come easy peasy to us, and that don't really feel like work. For me, that's coding, graphic design, and the like. (I know, I'm a little weird like that.)

For instance, this morning, I spent a little time optimizing a Wordpress website for a soapmaker in my Facebook group. Since it's something that I enjoy doing and doesn't feel like work to me (since I don't do it as work anymore...), it pushed me into a productive mode and carried the bonus points of helping her out.

If I don't feel like writing a blog post, I'll pop in Photoshop and whip up the blog post's graphics first. (Yeah, that happened today, too.)

When you don't feel like doing anything, make it easy to get started. Take a gander at your To Do list, and find a task that will help push you forward while getting your mojo moving. Accomplishing a task or two that feels easy will help get your ball rolling, and give you the satisfaction of crossing a task off your list.

When you jump on something you don't feel like doing, ease into it.

I use FocusBooster to ease into my work day when I'm struggling. It's a digital Pomodoro timer that gives me a race against the clock kind of feeling that isn't crazy overwhelming. I rock FocusBooster with twenty minutes of "I will do this task right now with no distractions."

When my twenty minute timer goes off, I take a five minute break as a reward. Usually, that break consists of popping over on Facebook, grabbing a snack, or going outside for a little sunshine and fresh air. Starting with twenty minutes of steady concentration and determination usually eases me into knocking the rest of the day out of the park.

If you have a huge task on your To Do list that you are dreading, break that baby down into an easy bite-size piece to start with.

If all else fails, be a mouse in a maze with cheese.

It's no secret, I will always be a gamer at heart. I really love it when developers build in gamification features into software. The big one I tend to share with other entrepreneurs is the Email Game, where you rack up points for wrangling your inbox. I also setup my daily agenda of three things on ToDoist, so when I click the little checkbox that says "I did this!," I get Karma (points.)

If it's not a task that already has a built in system of rewards, I'll create one for myself. Whether that's a glass of wine, some fair trade organic chocolate, or a new business book on my Kindle, I'll find a way to indulge myself with a reward.

If you need to push yourself to take those steps forward, don't be afraid to give yourself a little pat on the back or a high five in exchange for the hard work.

In the end, reframe your thinking.

Whatever it is that you don't feel like doing, there's a positive end game in sight for the reason that task exists. You might hate writing your email newsletter, but when you do write it, you get to reach out and make a connection with people who like your work. That's pretty amazeballs, if you ask me.

For me, email is a common struggle... When I find myself dreading my inbox, I remind myself that I get tons of email from soapmakers around the world because they value my input or support my work. Email is an opportunity for me to help others, no matter how overwhelming it can be at times.

When you don't feel like doing anything, you have to find a way to get over it as an entrepreneur. Find the light at the end of the tunnel, and remind yourself why that task is even on your To Do list. It has to have a real positive reason for being there!

Can't find a rhyme or reason for that thing you are dreading? Then it probably doesn't need to be on your plate! Look at that, another item checked off the good ole To Do list! ;)

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