You come home wasted by an exhausting day. You’re drenched in sweat or headache. You drag your body and thud into the couch. You’re thankful the freaking day is finally over. But wait, you have more to do. You have side hustles to take care of. You have messages to respond to. “What the heck?” you murmur. “How am I supposed to move and get more done?” you ask yourself.
When asked about how many sit-ups he does, Muhammad Ali responded
I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count
It shows the work done when it seems impossible might be the work that matters the most. Hence, you need a system where you can be productive despite lacking motivation.
I’ve had my fair share of days when my tank felt drained. Yet, I found a way to pull myself up and do my repetitions.
1. Reduce Friction
When exhausted, the biggest hurdle between a couch potato and a productive ninja is friction. Now, what does that mean?
Friction is the effort required to set up your workspace before starting to work.
Your friction can be different from the next person.
I need to find my shoes before going for a run I need to reset my router before sending that email I need to create an outline before writing an article I need to prepare my studio before shooting a video
These are examples of friction that keep us holed up in our comfortable bubble. These forces grow stronger when we’re feeling tired. Hence, to be productive, you need to reduce friction to the absolute minimum possible. You need to eliminate all the excuses your brain gives to keep you curled up on your sofa.
You can put your shoes next to your bed. You can create article outlines in bulk enough for days to come. You can set up your studio in a separate room and leave everything as is when done shooting.
These actions minimize the steps required between getting up and accomplishing tasks. They reduce your likelihood of falling victim to careless newsfeed scrolling.
2. Cut Distractions
The ability to get your butt off the couch after an exhausting day requires serious energy. Even more so in the early days of forming a habit. The more distractions you have lying around you, the more friction there will be.
Hence, eliminate the ones holding you back.
Turn off your smartphone notifications. Pull the curtains down on your windows. Block websites you browse carelessly. Use a browser with cleaned history to avoid any distracting suggestions. Log out of all social media. Tuck your children away. Let everyone know you’re not available. If the family is hard to block away, try working from a coffee shop instead.
The options are limitless and dependent on your particular situation. But to meet your goals despite exhaustion, it is necessary to reduce distraction.
3. Plan Ahead
If I’m suffering through a long day and I know there is another self-added task at the end, the day sucks even more. But in the end, I’m more likely to do it. But if I come home drained, there ain’t no way my brain is in any position to suggest I should push myself further.
Hence, planning tasks ahead of time makes a huge difference. It helps reduce friction and increases the chances of accomplishing more.
4. Chunk it up
If you’ve taken on a humongous project with a tight deadline, you are quite likely to feel overwhelmed. Big projects pull you in dozens of directions. There are hundreds of items begging for your attention. This can discourage you from attempting to move the needle further. Even more so when you’re lacking energy and motivation.
Hence, a wiser strategy is to divide the whole project into digestible chunks. Then attempt them one at a time. You should create some chunks too small to resist and do so on purpose. This builds on top of the last point of planning ahead. With these tiny chunks, you’re giving yourself the simplest tasks to get going.
5. Pareto principle
80% of consequences come from 20% of causes
This applies to business, sales, study, sports, and productivity. All actions don’t result in equal output generated. Why spread yourself thin trying to accomplish 80 things yielding only 20% of results?
Instead, find out those gems that are producing the most and invest all your energies in them. This simplifies your procedures and cuts down mental clutter. It also helps produce better results at a faster rate.
6. The motivational setup
I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to gravitate towards work if I surround my setup with colors. I’m happier to produce when the tools I’m using are pleasing to the eyes along with the whole environment. I’m sure I can’t be alone.
There are people who thrive in clutter. There are others who deem organization necessary for clarity. Whichever category you fit into, you need to give your brain what it craves and lure it into working on your goals.
Oftentimes, the most difficult part is getting started. Hence, if you can convince your brain to walk into the studio because it smells nice and walls are painted amazingly, or open that notebook because the pages are beautiful and unstained, or put the shoes on because you look stunning in them, you’ve already won half the battle. You’ve taken the first step. Rolling further is easy.
Yes, motivation is awesome but relying on it alone won’t get you far in life. It is like an open water bucket placed in the middle of a desert. Eventually, it dries up and that’s fatal to your goals.
Instead, you should strive to be driven and committed. Oftentimes, success is showing up regardless of how you feel and flipping a middle finger to the inner laziness.
In the end, YOU are the one controlling your body and not the other way around. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish the dullest tasks without falling for distraction 300 times.
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