Being Productive When You Don’t Feel Like It

There are days when I feel like NOT doing anything at all. We all have those moments, I assume. I’d like to think unless you NEED to, don’t work if you’re tired. Get some rest, right? But I also understand that we don’t have the luxury of doing that every time. If we did, we might be in danger of getting used to just waiting for ourselves to feel like working again. Also, having that kind of a thought process of “chilling when you feel like it” comes close to the pitfall of laziness. 

I appreciate social media stuff that preaches having a great mindset, so I’ll leave it to them to continue doing that. But the hustle mentality just doesn’t work for me that way. So, I observed how I did things and put them out here for you. Maybe you could use some of them.

Working in Bulk

One of the things I do regularly is to produce weekly podcasts for several clients. I often tell them to send stuff in advance in an attempt to make the jobs easier for the whole team. I do this because bunching up similar tasks together and doing them all at the same time makes the job a lot easier.

For example, let’s say that I need to do a couple of tasks for the week. My imaginary to-do list for the week may entail the following:

  1. Write 3 blogs for Client A.
  2. Write 2 personal blogs.
  3. Separate podcast production stuff.

Before, I would do whichever one has the closest deadline, even if the deadline is three weeks later. However, I would get tired of having to turn off “Client’s Blog Mode,” switch to “My Own Blog Mode,” then turn that off and eventually flick the “Podcast Production” button – all within the same day. I later realized that going on these different modes takes time before I can fully concentrate and get the ball rolling.

What often works for me is grouping things on separate days. I’d work on my client’s blog on Monday to Tuesday, write for myself on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and do the quality checks on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s how they would ideally work, but if deadlines get in the way, it would just be a variation of the structure.

By bunching up similar work together, I eliminate the need for my weak brain to switch to different tasks. I can work more efficiently and avoid the “recalibration time” when switching from one task to a different one.

Days are for “Lazy” Work

I also use the framework above when I don’t feel like going 100% on writing or whatever I do to earn a living. Things like organizing my inbox, clearing out my Downloads folder, and cleaning my room are some of the things that would be on this list. If I know I’d be procrastinating, I might as well line up these activities so I don’t have to do them later! (If you’re paid a fixed rate, I’ll leave it to you to use this strategy to steal the LEAST hours from the company – AKA be productive even during days you feel like quitting.)

Of course, if there’s a deadline close by, I’ll have to force myself to do the work, but I always try my best NOT to be in that situation. Also, please don’t get me wrong. Rest days are still rest days, so this is only under the realm of time when you’re supposed to be working.

Being Intentional

Here’s a little something you shouldn’t do. 

While writing this, I had a Valorant Tournament highlight reel playing in the background. If you don’t know what Valorant is, just imagine me typing away at the computer while listening to the commentator as the NBA Finals plays in the background. For context, these videos are things that I genuinely like to watch (at least at the time) and not something that YouTube randomly suggested. I noticed that I wasn’t really paying attention to it anymore because I already got myself into the writing mood. The best option for me is to put it on Watch Later instead and continue writing. But, I left it playing at the cost of having the noise hamper my concentration.

The reason for me doing that might be because I want to do both things simultaneously, which may seem like I’m more productive. Since I’ll be doing both of these anyways, why not just take both of them on right now? That sounds great, but it might have been better for me to have chosen just one thing. Consider the following questions.

“Do I really want to do this now?”

Or, “Do I really want to do this at all in the first place?”

Sure, I may have done both at the same time. Yes, I may have saved time. But I’m confident that what I was writing would have had a better structure if I had focused on it without doing anything else. Also, I know that I would have enjoyed the game better if I watched it later with eyes and ears glued on the screen. 

I only gave examples from my YouTube binge, which is very close to my heart, but the same idea can apply to many other aspects of life. Try to check in with yourself and understand your reason (or reasons) for doing what you do. Your past self is no longer you, so maybe you should take off those old goals you once had in mind. I’m not saying that you should give up on your dreams, but sometimes even our dreams change without us realizing it.

I’ll write more about this later, but I hope this gets the idea across. 

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