If you’re going through a sloth period and want to get over it, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up some tips from Quorans to help you overcome laziness. But because one can sometimes look like the other, I thought we should first clarify the difference between every day procrastination and laziness.
Procrastination and laziness are not the same
We all procrastinate when it comes to certain tasks, and some of the hardest working people will, some repeatedly, avoid things they know they should be doing. Your everyday procrastinator, myself included, will habitually put off activities that are a little too intimidating, like doing our taxes. On April 10th we’ll finally start putting together our receipts, while we freak out about the looming deadline! It’s the same with school papers and work projects — they are another category of tasks a lot of us will put off. Others just hate doing things they find too mundane or uninteresting — my roommate and housework comes to mind.
Laziness, on the other hand, goes beyond one or two areas of your life. You don’t just procrastinate on a few things, you procrastinate on everything. When you’re going through a lazy stretch, you’re not even trying, and your limbic system (a.k.a. the part of our brain that only wants pleasure and to “live for today!”) is practically running your life. You don’t just avoid SOME unpleasant tasks, you’re doing the minimum everywhere. You’ll do the minimum at work, at home, and with friends. You avoid successful people, because they make you feel bad about yourself. You spend way too much time on pointless activities like watching TV, and you may overdo it with food, social media, drugs or alcohol.
But no matter how much you lean into it, you’re not happy doing nothing on a subconscious level. Why would you? Too much idleness can make you feel bad about yourself and make you worry about your future. But I would wager real dollars (Australian dollars, that is), that this is a pattern you fell into and now you don’t know how to pull yourself out of it.
Not to fear – these Quorans have some tips to help you overcome laziness.
(Note: Some answers contain minor grammatical changes)
Amy Smith (Technology buff)
Amy offered up three brilliant suggestions to help you overcome laziness:
Kaizen, or the one-minute principle
In Japanese culture, there exists the practice of Kaizen, which includes the idea of the ’one-minute principle’ for self-improvement. It is the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time. The word itself contains two roots — ‘kai’ (change) and ‘zen’ (wisdom). It was invented by Masaaki Imai, who believes this philosophy can be applied just as successfully to the world of business, as it can be to one’s personal life.
Blast your favorite tracks
Have a playlist full of upbeat songs, put them loud, and even the monotonous tasks will seem easy to finish.
[Find] the motivation
Motivation is never there, especially when you need it. You just have to force yourself to do the things you don’t like to do. Amy shared this Mel Robbins video-clip where Mel shares her ONE rule to success, productivity and getting everything you’ve ever wanted: You’re never gonna feel like it.
Vaibhav Namdev, Fitness and health enthusiast
- Sleep is the most important thing. Always have adequate sleep; not more, not less. If you sleep more or less, you will feel [tired, or lazy]. Sleeping for 6–8 hours is enough.
- Add lemon and honey to lukewarm water and drink it as a vitamin supplement, then go for a walk or workout.
- [Do] some cardio for 15 minutes. It will make your heart happy, and supply blood to your brain, which will kill your laziness.
- Take cold showers. Getting into the shower may be challenging at first but I am sure you will feel [energetic] after that.
Eleanor, High School Student
Sometimes laziness occurs when you don’t want to face something, when you feel overwhelmed or when you really just can’t be bothered.
- Understand the real issue. When you feel that laziness starting to kick in, stand back and ask yourself what you’re really feeling. Is it sadness, lack of motivation, emotional pain, fear, tiredness? More often than not, the core issue is smaller than you think. Focus on it and solve it.
- Get organized. Having an organized desk, car, house, etc. will help you feel more motivated.
- Watch how you talk to yourself. Get rid of negative thoughts. Thinking, “I’m so lazy and worthless,” isn’t going to get you anywhere. Only you have control over your mind so stop being that way.
- Think of the outcome. Think about the benefits. Is it working out? Cooking? Finishing your homework? Think about how you’ll feel after those tasks are completed.
- Set realistic short-term goals. Doing so will help you have something to look forward to.
- Make a checklist. As you go through your to-do list, check every task you have completed. It will make you feel satisfied and focus on the work that still needs to be done.
- The 2-minute rule. If something takes less than 2 minutes to get started, get your ass up and do it.
Roh Nos, Psychotherapist and ADHD Coach
Roh went in a different direction when he shared this insight about laziness: Laziness is actually a very effective behavior to manage some difficult feelings.
So, I would just add to Roh’s comment, the first thing to help you overcome laziness may be to get help sorting through those feelings.
Matt Sandrini, Amazon bestselling author
As a backstory, Matt shared what happened when he didn’t floss for years. He didn’t understand WHY he should, so he didn’t and ended up developing gum disease. His dentist explained the connection between gum disease and flossing (or in other words, the consequences of his inaction). So, he started flossing and as the months went by, each time he went to the dentist, his teeth and gums were healthier than before.
What’s this got to do with procrastination?
Instead of making a long list of things you want to do that don’t motivate you, imagine your life 5, 10, 20 years from now. What do you want it to look like?
That’s great. Now, let’s do it again. Imagine yourself 20 years from now.
You had all those dreams, all those ambitions. You wanted to learn things, to experience things. Instead, you chose to be lazy and not take action. What does [your life] look like?
Your imagination can be a powerful motivator, says Matt.
Saurav Sharma, a Full Stack Python Developer
Saurav shared these scientific and actionable steps:
- Stop eating rice (simple carbs): I personally observed that when I stopped consuming rice at lunch or dinner, I felt much lighter and active… when I have rice, I feel too sleepy and tired to work anymore.
- Hydrate yourself: When your body is not sufficiently hydrated, you develop brain fog which prevents you from having a clear mind.
- Eat enough: Eating less can also make you feel lazy. Especially if you are working on something complex, your brain needs glucose as a fuel to work on that problem.
- Stop using your smartphone: When you take a break and use your smartphone to relax, you are not relaxing but instead exhausting your mind even more.
- Have a stress buster: When you come [home] from work, you carry a bunch of unwanted stress with you… If you don’t do something about it, you will carry the same stress with you the next day which will make you feel lazy.
I noticed some recurring themes in this thread. Quite a few people recommended cold showers. Several pointed out the connection between laziness and our emotions, and in extreme cases, depression. And I agree with those posters who argued that what looks like laziness can be a lack of passion for what you’re doing.
Whatever the reason for why you’re feeling unmotivated, I say – start here: Be kind to yourself and deal with laziness on an emotional and mental level first. Don’t wait for something or someone to come along and inspire you. You will have to be the one to take the first step, which you already did by reading this. So kudos on that!
Now, keep it going and good luck!