Get Things Done When You Don’t Feel Like It

All it takes are small steps to get things done

Sometimes it can be really difficult to get things done. Sometimes you don’t feel like doing anything at all, and the weight of your incomplete tasks weighs heavily on you. If are ill or tired, a lack of motivation can have a negative impact on your ability to get anything done.

For all those days when you are feeling rubbish or frustratingly demotivated for whatever reason, here are some ways to tackle this feeling, and actually manage to get done what you need to do.

Method 1 – Work up to it

Make yourself a to-do list. You’ve got to get this part right. I’m not talking about writing “write dissertation” on that list. That is not achievable and will likely make you feel incredibly daunted and worse about your day rather than helping. I’m talking about adding reasonable, achievable steps to your list.

For example, you might want to have , “morning yoga”, “eat breakfast” and “reply to emails”. If you’re feeling a bit rougher, you might want to add things like “get up”, “make bed”, and “brush teeth”. When you do those tasks, you cross them off your list and voila, you’ve achieved something. It was a relatively small thing, granted, but you have achieved something.

This method counts small tasks as achievements. The act of achieving something makes you feel accomplished and increases your motivation (through release of dopamine – a delightful little neurotransmitter). This essentially builds up your mood and your motivation from the little tasks, allowing you to take on the more daunting ones once you’ve got a few little achievements under your belt. Every achievement reinforces that you can actually do this, whether you’ve set your bar high or low for the day.

Method 2 – Ten Minute Hack

If you have a task that you don’t want to do, be it pay your energy bill, tidy a messy room or school work, this hack can get you round it. Procrastinating the task can take a lot longer than actually doing it. You and I both know this, but that doesn’t always help. It doesn’t get the task done, does it?

The Ten Minute Hack is simple: take a deep breath and set a timer for ten minutes. For those ten minutes, do the task. Ten minutes isn’t long. You can manage to do something for only ten minutes, can you?

There are only two possible outcomes for this:

  1. You spend ten minutes doing the task and then stop, or
  2. You are halfway done already or you’ve built up momentum to carry on

Whether you get into the task and tidy the messy room completely, or just do your ten minutes, it’s a great outcome. You still spent a solid ten minutes on the task.

Daunting tasks can be put off for hours, dodged and avoided. They’re too difficult, scary, and awful to even start. Starting is often the most psychological challenging part. If you use this hack, you can circumnavigate your own procrastination and avoidance by facing it, head on, for just ten minutes.


Try both methods out. They might work for you for different tasks or different days. Hopefully they will help you get some results on days you’d prefer to do nothing more challenging than rolling yourself into the perfect burrito in your bed. We all need a hand to face those challenging tasks sometimes. You can do it!


Below is a though-provoking video by Dan Pink on Motivation.

About Julie Sutherland 1 Article
Julie Sutherland is an author who created How To Win at Student Life – a fun, information-filled guide to life as a student. She has a keen interest in all things student, from their accommodation to their wellbeing. She graduated with a BSc Hons in Neuroscience and has been writing ever since. When not writing, she can usually be found on the dance floor tangled up in a tango.