Poof! Your ability to get anything done has vanished. You’re feeling unproductive and unmotivated.
You’re uninspired, and any attempt to be productive leads you smack into a brick wall.
What’s happened to your get-up-and-go, you wonder?
Maybe you’re even thinking something is wrong with you.
Well, I’ve been there and believe me, I get it.
For me, I would get sucked into a TV induced black hole. Horizontal for hours and thinking, I…must…get…up…and…do…S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G….anything…
Before you schedule an appointment to see someone, here are some things that may be making you feel blah and stuck in a rut.
Productivity stealer #1: You’re emotionally worn out
In the book Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, burnout happens when you get stuck in an emotion. “Emotions are tunnels”, they say. “If you go all the way through them, you get to the light at the end.”
If you have continual stress in your job, or you’re taking care of other people, you may never get to cross the emotional finish line leading to burnout.
Perhaps you learned to just power through and keep your emotions at a distance as a way of coping, which stops you from experiencing them all the way to the end (believe me, I get it, I’ve been there and done that).
Or if you don’t think you have a right to feel what you’re feeling and hold your emotions in, you can get stuck in these situations as well.
I can tell I have unfinished emotional business when I stop making eye contact or pull back and withdraw from the people around me.
When you’re dealing with tough emotions like grief or rage, they can shake your concentration and remove any forward momentum for getting things done. Read about my experience dealing with grief after the passing of my father in the post, Coping with the Death of Your Father: 10 Ways To Have an Easier Time.
Worry can also take hold of your energy, distracting you and watering down attempts to focus on tasks. To learn a strategy to move through anxious feelings, read 10 Journal Prompts to Actually Calm Your Mind Heading into a Stressful Week
Productivity stealer #2: You’re avoiding part of your life because it’s time to make a change
If a major aspect of your life, like your job or your relationship hold no spark for you, that’ll leave you feeling unproductive and unmotivated.
Dread and boredom mean your life is ready to go in a new direction. These emotions are here to get your attention.
And may be a sign that you need to take some time to explore what makes your heart sing.
You may not know what will fill you with delight if you’re used to pushing away your emotions, or if you’ve been living life based on other people’s expectations, or doing what’s within easy reach (again, you’re not alone here, I’ve been there).
Being in a rut is an invitation to look a little deeper and ask, what makes me happy? And what would I do if I could do anything?
Productivity stealer #3: What you’re eating has you on the struggle bus all day
Nutrition and blood sugar balance make an enormous difference in your energy and focus.
Simple carbs, processed foods and sugar will steal your vital life force energy. Blood sugar dips in the day will steal your forward momentum, and make you more lethargic and more irritable and impatient.
There’s another layer to this. If you’re pushing away your emotions, you may try to feel better by eating comfort food. So finding new strategies to move through your feelings can help you make healthier food choices.
Productivity stealer #4: You’re snoozing in bed too long in the morning
Languishing in bed and waiting to “feel like” getting up keeps you from tapping into the energy of productivity.
Activation energy is the energy of forward progress and momentum. You tap into activation energy when you get right up when the alarm goes off.
How you wake up and start your day will change the way you feel all day and improve your mood.
You know how you’re more productive on days you exercise first thing? That’s because exercise taps into activation energy.
Tap into activation energy first thing in the morning by skipping the snooze button and you’ll be tackling your to-do list and feeling proud of yourself at the end of the day. And that’s true even if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep.
For inspiration on how to breathe new life into your morning routine, read The Best Morning Routine for Energy and All-Day Productivity.
Productivity stealer #5: Staying in pajamas all day is derailing you from taking action
Clothing carries energy.
There’s clothing that fills you with purpose and gears you up for a goal. Then there’s clothing that makes you want to sit on the couch all day feeling unmotivated and unproductive.
If you work from home, you probably notice you feel different going about your day if you make the effort to get dressed.
This is the reason people are more likely to exercise on days when they wake up and put on their workout clothes.
Dress for the day you want to have and you’ll be more likely to accomplish what you want to get done.
Productivity stealer #6: The TV is constantly on
When I lived alone, I liked having the TV on all the time because it felt like I had companionship. But watching TV for more than half an hour zapped my ability to be productive. And there’s no surprise here, because it’s a fact that TV changes your brain waves.
I’m engaged, creative and sharp if I wake up and turn on music or a podcast rather than the TV. It makes all the difference.
Productivity stealer #7: You have too much free time on your hands
The more you have to do, the more productive you are.
In college, I hit my stride with using my time efficiently when I had more on my plate, not less.
Otherwise, I was swimming in free time that gave me the luxury of procrastinating. This left me feeling bad because I wasn’t getting anything done.
Parkinson’s Law says the amount of work you have to do expands to fill up the time that you have. So if you have 1 report to write that takes 1 hour, but you have 3 days to do it, you’ll take 3 days to get it done. You’ll spend the first 2 days piddling around thinking you should do it. And the last day working.
Of course, when it comes to having free time, there’s a sweet spot. You still need enough time to rest and recharge.
Feeling unproductive and unmotivated is an invitation
Spinning your wheels is an invitation to get curious.
To be with your emotions and figure out what they’re trying to tell you.
Maybe your daily routines and habits need an intentional refresh.
Or it could be it’s time to tune in and hear what’s in your heart and create a life that delights you.
Yes, there’s risk that comes with trying to pinpoint what’s making your life stagnate.
You may discover you have to face an ending and explore new territory.
But the greater risk is missing out on the joy that comes from feeling alive and aligned with your life.
No matter what, you’ve got this.