What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

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This morning I woke up and found myself lying in bed scrolling through Instagram. I’m not supposed to do that. I’m a powerful coach, a deep spiritual practitioner, a human being on purpose, but that’s what I was doing.

Each year I take most of December off and I enjoy these slow mornings where I can do my practice or watch TV. Work on a new book idea or simply read one for hours in bed. I love my Decembers and yet, each January when it comes time to return to work, I don’t feel like doing anything for about a week.

I don’t feel like checking my email, starting a new project, exercising, or getting on client calls. My body feels like an object in perfect stillness at the center of a frozen universe. It doesn’t want to move, think, or put in effort in any way.

This is where I found myself this morning. Knowing that with a few clicks, I could continue my marathon of The Office, or lose myself in shopping for a valentine’s day gift, or just look at pictures of other people doing stuff.

And when I find myself here I have found a few ways to get myself out.

STEP 1 – Get out of bed.

I can literally go anywhere else in the place I’m staying. The kitchen, the bathroom, the couch in the living room. Just the simple act of getting out of bed moves my energy. It takes me from horizontal to vertical, from inert to active. It can feel like a hard step (even though logically you may think it shouldn’t be hard) but getting out of bed really helps.

STEP 2 – Make the bed

I know, super lame. But making a bed reduces the chances you are going to get back into it. And it invokes your adult mind. Your day matters. Your bed matters. You are preparing your bed for when you will meet it again tonight. At the end of the day you’ll look at your bed and remember that you love yourself. You have set the stage for sleep.

Sleep that will happen later. Not now. Because now there is a day.

STEP 3 – Drink Something (not alcohol)

Water, tea, coffee, juice, it doesn’t matter, but you get bonus points for preparing something to drink. Drinking is a ritual. I spend 10 – 20 mins making coffee every morning. I hand grind beans. I measure water. Yes I’m a bit of a snob about coffee, but this ritual makes a difference to me.

I am preparing something for myself. I am preparing myself for the day. Plus it’s a simple and embodied activity. It is NOT on a screen. It is in the physical world. I boil water, measure beans, time the brew. All of these things are here in this world, where your life is.

STEP 4 – Do something that turns on your mind and/or body

Either one of these works. I mean both are better. But the key is to read something that turns on your mind or do something that turns on your mind or body.

If you’re going to read, pick a devotional, or maybe something on meditation. Bonus points if the chapters are short and inspiring. Anything by Pema Chodron* is great. Or Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind*. The Book of Awakening* is Dope. I even wrote a devotional for coaches, which you can pre-order right now.

Just read something that makes you think. Not the news. Not Facebook. Probably not even a blog post. Something that invites your mind into a deeper experience of yourself.

Same with exercise. It doesn’t have to be intense. Yoga, tai chi, gentle stretching. I love the stuff put out by Gold Medal Bodies. But just move, for 10-15 mins. Anything is better than nothing.

You are invoking engagement through movement. You are creating momentum which can carry you into the day.

STEP 5 – Write or draw something

Do morning pages or write a post about not wanting to do anything. Or just journal for 5-10 mins. Both exercise and reading have a quality of receiving. This is why you need to move very gently into creating.

You don’t have to write or draw anything good. Crap is fine. Maybe even better. The point is to shift. From laying to standing. From mental space to physical space. From preparing to moving. And then from receiving to creating.

So create something. Anything. It can be small. I write little poems sometimes.

The dog upstairs
barks with a low and yearning tone
I hear her
calling for the woods
through the plate glass window
that separates her
from the wild and the past

It’s probably not a great poem. It doesn’t matter. I created it. Now I am creating.

STEP 6 – Begin your day

You’re ready now. You’ve warmed up. You are already doing something. And now that you’re doing something you can do something else.

You could review your tasks for the day, you could work on the hardest one, you could answer your email. Whatever it is. You can more easily move from doing to doing.

And what if you get stuck?

Now you have 5 things you can try to get back on track.

  1. Stand up
  2. Prepare something for later
  3. Drink something
  4. Move or read
  5. Create something

As I move throughout my day I use these simple tasks as a way to bring myself back. Back from the land on inertia and indifference.

You were not made to lay about. You were made to give your gifts to the world.

All it takes is a small reset to remember.

*This article contains affiliate links which means I may make a small commission if you use the link to purchase.