Being productive even when you’re feeling wildly unmotivated

How to be productive when you're feeling unmotivated

I’m perpetually tired. I can sleep for 3 hours or 12 hours but I’ll wake up feeling just as exhausted either way. You could come to me at any point in the day, and I’m probably in the mood for a nap.

Combining my sleepiness with the fact that I’m also perpetually bored at home (gotta love unemployment) and lowkey lazy, my level of motivation bottoms out pretty quickly.

It’s not that I don’t have any ambition because I do. I have pages and pages filled with ideas, projects I want to do one day, and random life goals. It’s just that most days, my brain feels foggy and my head too heavy.

In college, I had the fear of failure to get me going, but now that I’ve graduated I’ve had to learn how to be productive even when I’m feeling wildly unmotivated.

Make a schedule

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a big time planner. I use my bullet journal every day to make a list of all the things I need to get done. Basically, if I don’t write my responsibilities down, I pretend they don’t exist. I get overwhelmed really easily when thinking about everything I need to get done. When that happens, I’d honestly rather do nothing at all. Having each task written down so I have a clear plan of when I need to do what makes it so much more manageable.

Without a schedule or routine, I procrastinate way too much. I tell myself ‘I’ll do that in an hour’ until three days have gone by and I haven’t started. Not my finest quality, I’ll admit.

Set realistic goals and timelines

Sometimes I think I have more time and energy than I actually do or I feel guilty for not doing more, so I end up setting ridiculous goals for myself. It starts out great and it gets me excited to work hard, but then when I inevitably can’t accomplish what I set out to, I feel horrible for the next 3 days and have even less motivation than I did before.

I’d rather work slower and do a better job than end up with too much on my plate and rushing to get something mediocre finished. Everyone works at their own pace, so you just have to find yours and do your best.


I don’t know how everyone else feels about bribery, but I’m definitely a fan. I’ll reward myself with snacks or an episode of Friends, naps, cuddles with my cat, anything. When I’m in a bad mood, having something fun to look forward to after writing or errands can make all the difference. I might actually be 9, stay tuned.

When I need to be productive, I find things that inspire me to work hard, make a plan or schedule of everything that needs to get done, and have someone hold me accountable.

Find something that inspires you

I’m the kind of person who soaks up moods or feelings from whatever is near me, whether that be a person or something I’m watching/reading online. If I watch a really amazing Ted Talk about working hard, I’m ready to go.

When I need an extra boost of energy, I’ll watch speeches, read a positive article about someone who’s done something cool, look up quotes, or listen to a song that always gets me excited. I have to surround myself with positive, enthusiastic influences because the second I see anyone or anything sad, I’m done. Those sad, abused animal videos on Facebook might be the death of me.

Have a friend or family member to hold you accountable

One of the best ways to get myself to work is if someone else knows what I need to get done and can hold me accountable. I can make excuses all day for myself. The second I have to answer to literally anyone else, though? Those excuses fly out the window.

Get comfortable

This is mostly when it comes to writing, but if I’m not comfortable I can’t get anything done. My desk has to be just right and my room can’t be too cold. I don’t like to work in silence, but if the tv or music playing is too loud, I can’t concentrate. Sometimes I’m just feeling bummed, so I need my favorite coffee or some other kind of comfort food. I guess some of these seem small or silly, and maybe they are. All I know is my productivity is pretty dependent on how comfortable I am in my environment.

How do you stay productive when you’re feeling unmotivated?

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