Overcoming Laziness & Lethargy – 10 Strategies that Work and 3 that Don’t!

Have you ever felt lazy? You know you have things to do but you just can’t be bothered? These may even be important things that will help you achieve what it is you want in life, and yet slumping down on the couch in front of the tv or going back to bed seems so much more enticing. What do you do when you’re in these lazy “funks” as I call them?

Fat Lazy Guy Watching The Tv

Last night, before I went to bed, I made a list of my top priorities for the day and I was really looking forward to waking up and getting through a number of major tasks. Yet what happened this morning? I turned the alarm off and went back to bed for an hour – my excuse? I didn’t have any appointments today and I deserve the rest because I’ve been training so hard. Regardless of whether that was true or not, what happened after I woke up was even more interesting – I just felt completely lazy. It was almost as if I was more tired after several hours sleep than before I went to bed. This has happened to me countless times before and I’ve come to the conclusion that our feelings of laziness and boredom are two of our biggest barriers to increased productivity and ultimately achieving our goals. So what do you do when you get in this lazy funk? Below are ten tips, in no particular order for what has worked for me in the past.

How to Instantly Overcome Your Laziness

1. Move Your Body:
When I’m feeling lazy, generally I can’t be bothered to move or get off the couch. So make yourself move. What are some options?

  • Get up and go for a walk. Sometimes, getting some fresh air and light exercise can be just the tonic to recharge yourself.
  • Do some form of exercise, where you are. Sometimes some pushups or situps can be great to get the blood flowing again.
  • Bounce. Jump up and down lightly on the balls of your feet and then start moving around like a boxer. This starts the heart pumping and gets me feeling like I can get going again.
  • Do something that involves next to no mind power. This is often the easiest for me because when I’m really stuck in my lazy funk, I cannot be bothered going for a walk or doing some exercise. So I’ll go and tidy up my desk or file some papers. One of the best things for me (and I know this sounds strange) is ironing. Yes, I’ll go and iron a few shirts. Why? Because, again it get my body moving and after a few minutes, I find myself wondering why I’m spending my time ironing when I could be doing something far more productive. And then I can start being productive again. The side benefit of this is my shirts get ironed when I am at my most unproductive and it ends up being the best use of my time.

2. Shower:

  • Just like with the ironing above, I’m guessing you’re at home when you’re in this lazy funk. And a shower can be just the tonic. A cold shower might be ideal but I’m quite happy having a hot shower. I always feel refreshed and then I’m able to get stuff done.
  • Ok, if you can’t shower, sometimes just go and throw some water on your face. I can’t tell you how many times that’s helped me when I’m in the midst of doing something challenging. It takes 30 seconds but is an absolute pick me up.

3. Read Something Inspirational:

  • I have a number of autobiographies that I can pick up at any time. Generally, just a few minutes reading how it was someone’s commitment to their dreams that got them to where they are in life is enough to jolt me.

4. Review Your Goals: This can be done in multiple ways, depending on how you are feeling and your personality.

  • Review your annual goals. This is where you see yourself at the end of the year and they should be inspiring to you. If not, then you may want to re-evaluate your goals.
  • Review your daily or weekly goals. For me, this sometimes works better than my annual goals purely because the end of the year can sometimes seem so far away. However, a week is not so far and I know that if I don’t do what I had scheduled today, my entire week is going to be behind schedule, which will mean that I’m going to struggle to achieve what I want for the month. Again, that snaps me out of my lazy funk.

5. Look at the Consequences of NOT doing what you said you would:

  • In the past there have been several times when I’d prefer to do nothing, or something unproductive, rather than being positive and moving forwards. So now, I look at the consequences. In other words, what will happen if I don’t go to the gym today? That’ll mean that I’m behind on my work out schedule for the week. And if I keep doing this for a few weeks, I’m going to be well and truly behind and instead of having the physique that I want, I’m going to end up being fat! That’s all the trigger I need to grab my gym bag and head over to the gym. So sometimes, thinking of the negative consequence of not doing what you said you would do (and allowing yourself a little creative licence :-)) can be really beneficial.

6. Pick up the phone and call someone:

  • Note I said “pick up the phone” not email someone. The very act of talking to someone gets us breathing differently and forces us to think differently. Now, you don’t need to call someone to tell them you’re feeling lazy and get them to kick your butt for it (although that can sometimes help). Instead just have a short conversation – it’s going to make you think and after a few minutes, you’ll find yourself feeling a lot better. I’m not advocating that you waste someone else’s time so be judicious with how you use this one, but it can be a great “state changer”. If you’re in the office, perhaps walk over to a colleague who you need to talk to about something and have the conversation then.

7. Take Some Deep Breaths:

  • One of my offices overlooks the water and another overlooks some great park land. So if I’m ever feeling in a bit of funk, I’ll go outside and take 10 deep breaths. This gets the oxygen flowing and I’ll always feel better after this one. Sometimes, even a little tingly from the extra oxygen. Now, there used to be a time when I worked right in the heart of the city where it was a concrete jungle – there was only traffic and buildings around me. During those times, I’d go for a short walk and take some deep breaths, in other words, I’d combine #1 and #7 and that would do the trick for me.

8. Go and do something fun:

  • Use the time when you’re feeling bored and lazy to inject some fun into your life. What that is for you I don’t know. However, lots of I.T. companies for example such as Google have installed video games and the like which staff can play for a short while. The excitment and adrenalin hit gets people out of their “lazy” funk and motivated to get productive again.

9. Listen to Music:

  • This is one of my personal favourites – I love music and listening to it on my ipod or via the computer speakers gets me bopping along to the music. Just one or two songs, which is less than 10 minutes total, is enough to snap me out of my laziness.
    A side note: If you’re someone who loves to dance as well, and you’re able to, then have some fun and dance to the music. This combines #1 with #9 and can quickly get you out of your lazy state of mind. Just between you and me, this is something I’ll do quite often. Of course, I’m in my home office when I do this :-)

10. Visualise and Dream:

  • Often, when I’m feeling lazy and in a funk, it’s because I’m focusing on how “difficult” things are, or how much work I have to do, or something else that is completely of no use to me whatsoever. So instead, I’ll sometimes just sit somewhere and dream. I’ll visualise my goals and dreams, what I want to achieve, who I’ll contribute to, what my family and friends will say when I have achieved my goals, what my body will look like when I am in perfect shape for the triathlon I committed to, how driving in my dream car would feel, or whatever the dream is. (I can feel the motivation and excitment rise from within me, just as I write these things down). So think about what it is that you want. Once you get clear on that, doing what you need to do today will seem quite easy because now you’re focusing on your dream and not the difficulty of the tasks.

So they are my top ten tips on how to get out of a lazy funk. Just out of interest, how did I get out of my lazy funk today? I used #3 (Read something inspirational), #2 (I had a shower), #5 (I looked at the consequences of not doing what I needed to today) and #10 (I visualised what I’m heading towards this year). As you can probably tell, I was really in a funk so I had to use 4 of these tips in combination to get myself moving, but it did the trick and I’m on my way to having an exceptionally productive day today.

Now, having reviewed what works, I also thought I’d provide a short list of things I have done in the past that don’t work.

Here are some things NOT to do to snap out out of a lazy funk:

1. Go and sleep for a short while:
If you’re feeling lazy, taking a short nap might seem like a great thing to do. What I’ve often found is that when I want to have a 20 minute nap, I end up sleeping for nearly 2 hours. Then, I generally need a pick me up of some nature to get me going. So sure this strategy might work eventually, but I’ve found it’ll end up wasting almost 3 hours. Now, I’m presuming you are getting enough sleep already and we just want to snap out of our lazy “funk”. So when that’s the case, resist the temptation to sleep. Instead, do the exact opposite. Move your body and you’ll find that very quickly, you’ll be re-energised and ready to go again .

2. Go get a sugar hit:
I know this is against popular opinion and might be controversial. However, think about what happens when you do have a sugar hit. You get a spike of energy which lasts a short time, and then your energy sinks back down. I know for me, after a short while, I feel like I have even less energy than before I had my sugar hit. So then what did I do in the past? I’d go and get more sugar. Ok, so I’d get through my day but the impact on my health, fitness and energy levels was terrible. Also I found that my “mind power” (for lack of a better phrase) was far less. I could not concentrate as much, I was unable to think clearly and I could not think through problems as well. So, this is something I try not to do anymore. I now realise that I don’t need to put any external stimulants into my body to get me out of a funk, especially when there are so many better options available.

A side note: There are still times when I’ll relent and have something sugary. I know it’s not going to be good for me, yet I do it anyway. Thankfully, the number of times I succumb to weakness is now very few (it’s probably now about once in two weeks at the most) and I focus more on the alternatives.

3. Take a “break” in front of the television:
How often, after you have spent a while in front of the tv channel surfing, have you felt more tired than before you sat down to watch tv in the first place? I know that in the past when I’m was working or studying from home, I’d convince myself I needed a short break and plonk myself in front of the television for what was supposed to be about 20 minutes. You can guess what happened – 20 minutes quickly became 2 hours! So not a great use of time at all.

So there you have it: My top ten tips of how to get yourself out of a lazy funk and 3 temptations to say away from. Remember, the key to personal leadership is to be able to perform at your best whenever you need to… not just when you feel like it. However, you need to have the right strategies in place and I hope these help. This list is not exhaustive by any means so please let me know in the comments box below if you have any strategies you believe could work well for snapping yourself out of a lazy funk.

“How You Spend Your Time Defines Who You Are” Oprah Winfrey
If you liked this article, please share it on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. I’d appreciate it. :-) And finally… if you feel these tips can help you overcome your laziness and you now want to know how to increase your productivity, then check out my blog post “How To Increase Your Productivity – 15 Tips To Reduce Stress and Have More Peace Of Mind”

Until next time,
To your success,


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