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How To Get Things Done When You Don't Feel Like It

If you’re wondering how to get things done, you’re not alone. Personal productivity can be a challenge and while David Allan’s GTD methods are great in theory, applying it can be hard when I’m in a hurry to get things done.

Get things done

For instance, I didn’t feel like writing this post. I wanted to, needed to, and I had committed to someone several times that I was going to do it, but I did not feel like it. So, I didn’t write it until today. But I wrote it (writing it right now) without feeling like it because sometimes that’s what you have to do to get moving.

Impact on your motivation when getting things done

When trying to G.T.D there are multiple factors that affect your motivation. In my case, it’s stress and lack of sleep, but it could be a few other things.

  • Hydration
  • Energy Level
  • Stress Level
  • External and internal pressure
  • Hunger
  • Environment
  • Level of Drive
  • Mental health

Those are some of the major things that mix around in our lives to contribute to our drive and desire to do something at any given time and how we feel about it.

These things all lead to our output, and some signals are not always there to be overcome. Sometimes you need to take your behind to bed and pick up tomorrow. But other times you need to get it done. So what do you do when you need to get a lot of things done in a hurry?

What I do when I’m in a hurry to get things done

In the classic GTD Methodology doing or engaging in work is the fifth phase after capturing, clarifying, organizing, and reflecting.

But assuming that you have all of those pieces done and you have work that you’re ready to get done, but you are not motivated yet, then that is where you have to start.

One tried, and proven way to kickstart your motivation is to pretend. You put your body and your mind into the situation as if the motivation was there. In the case of writing, I sat my butt in the chair and started typing.

Action gets you going, and you find that inertia, that desire for things in motion to stay moving, and things at rest to remain at rest will eventually kick in for you.

But sometimes you just have to force it to get it going and sooner or later inertia will be on your side.

Using Technology and Getting Things Done Apps To Get Going

One of the ways to get more done is to find ways to make execution routine. This can be hard to do but the few ways that you can do this is to use technology or apps. Examples of technology can be things like calendars, reminders, and alarms.

The other way is to find and start to rely on a trusted GTD app. Here are a few that you can try out:

  • Things by Cultured Code
  • Omnifocus
  • Todoist
  • Pen and Paper
  • One Note
  • Evernote

Those are some apps that you can use to implement GTD. Now since it’s a methodology on how to get things done, there are many ways to put it into practice. But these are some of the better known apps that you can use as a starting point.

Ways to bypass the need to feel like it

The primary way to bypass the need ever to feel like doing something is to form rituals that you follow so that your activity becomes something that you just do. No matter what. Usually, if you do this then you build a habit and this habit forms a different kind of inertia. There is a more extended form of inertia that is less of momentum within the activity and more like a more extended form of push that keeps you showing up and doing because it’s what you do.

Another way to get around the need to feel like it is to practice emotional detachment from the activity you’re about to take on. Do it cold, and distance yourself from it emotionally as if it’s something that you do not care about. Like blinking your eyes or brushing your teeth, it’s just something that you do. Giving it no thoughts, no energy, no feeling, but you just follow the process until you finish, and then you stop and walk away from it.

But at times, these approaches are just way too difficult to do when you have a lot of forces working against you and your motivation at the time. And when this happens, there’s one last thing you can try.

The 5-minute timer technique to get things done

When all else fails, try this technique and see if it works for you.

What’s impressive about it is that it’s guaranteed to move you forward without taking any time at all. And while it seems to simple to be effective, I can attest to its effectiveness in getting me going when I have tried everything, and I can’t get myself to feel motivated.

The technique is as the name says and it follows a straightforward process:

  1. Clarify the very next physical action that you need to take on
  2. Get yourself a timer and set it for 5 minutes with an alarm that will go off when the time elapses
  3. Give yourself the permission to stop when 5 minutes is up and accept that you will be farther ahead than you were before you started.
  4. Work the task or the physical action for 5 minutes, and when the clock goes off, then you can stop.
  5. If you don’t feel like quitting, then you keep working till you feel like it.

The key to this is that you get yourself out of your current state, and after 5 minutes you are free to do whatever you feel like doing. Guilt-free, knowing that now that you have gotten some movement and momentum on your side the odds are now 50/50 that you will either feel like stopping or continuing the work.

Take action

That’s pretty much it. I didn’t feel like writing this article, but I sat down and started writing.

Now I’m done. Once I got going, I didn’t feel like giving in to the feeling that was telling me to stop. So I kept going.

What about you?

Is there something that you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel like doing it?

Give the five-minute technique a try and see if it moves you forward. After all, it’ll only lose you five minutes.


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