Episode 148: What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything
Welcome back to the show. You’re listening to Live Free Creative. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. This is Episode 148: What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything.
Can you guess what would have inspired this episode? Maybe the last four days of me sitting in my office with the time to work. Sitting here spinning around in my spinny office chair, staring at the wall, thinking I finally have time and I just don’t feel like doing anything.
I think there’s a little bit of transition that’s happening for me, from a very long time of not having the same amount of focused independent work time that I did for several years before the pandemic, to now having my youngest sister moved in with us for the summer.
She just graduated from college and is doing this little gap couple months before she moves on to her next chapter. We’re so lucky to have her. And for the first time in over a year, I have some set aside independent work hours and it’s so fun.
And also I get here, like I said, I’m like, I just need to zone out for a little while.
I think my body and my brain and my energy and my spirit are all just catching up to the idea of everything that’s going on and that has happened and processing and getting excited about possibilities and hope and planning.
And again, do you ever feel like you just don’t feel like doing anything?
Does that ever happen to you?
Does it happen to you sometimes in the summer, sometimes in the winter?
Do you have days or weeks even that you just think, I just don’t even feel like doing anything?
Before I jump into the episode where I’m going to share five ideas for what to do when you don’t want to do anything, I want to share a quick segment called Pause For A Poem.
Pause For A Poem
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Isn’t that a beautiful sentiment. Many of you have probably heard the last couple of lines of that poem: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” But did you know everything that came before? The meanderings on nature. This grasshopper wandering through the fields all day.
I love the question. What else should I have done? What else am I supposed to do with my day?
I think this poem goes right to the heart of what I want to talk about today, which is what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything.
What To Do When You Don’t Want To Do Anything
I want to offer five pieces of advice or suggestions. And the very first one is this, ask yourself: Do I need to do anything?
Tip 1: Do I need to do anything?
Is it okay for me to just sit or wander through the fields or watch a grasshopper or watch my kids play or feel the breeze on my face, take some deep breaths, go on a walk. Is it okay for me to do nothing?
Our immediate response to this question most often, and especially if you’ve been raised in America, is,
“Yes, I need to do something.”
“Yes, I need to be productive.”
“I need to be moving the needle. I need to be reaching my goals. I need to check a box.”
I am as guilty of this mentality as anyone. I love doing stuff. In fact, I have been planning for months now on opening up an accountability coaching group that will probably materialize, if not in the fall, then early next year, called Make It Happen.
I love doing stuff. I love getting stuff done. I love bringing things forth and turning my dreams into reality.
And I also really love to do nothing. I’m learning that there is an art to doing nothing. There is an art to the acceptance of the idea that just being still or just being present or just breathing is, in and of itself, worthwhile.
When I was in high school, I was on a vacation at some point during a summer. And I saw a little book in a boutique called The Art of Doing Nothing. And you know, that I’ve always been a busy body. I did lots of activities. I was involved and lots of clubs and teams, and I loved being involved. I loved doing all of the things and had lots of energy and excitement and enthusiasm for life.
And yeah, that looked like and felt like adding and adding and adding. And for some reason I was pulled to this idea of doing nothing. I didn’t even know what that could be, what that could look like, the art of doing nothing. And as I flipped through, it was like a little picture book I’ll actually see, maybe it’s around still.
It was 20 years ago, but I was flipping through, it was these kind of old fashioned, antiquey looking pictures with quotes about the importance of stillness and rest and relaxation and the intention behind that.
There, isn’t going to be space left over at the end of your list. There’s never going to be just space leftover in your schedule. That’s something that you have to intentionally plan. It’s an art. It’s something that you do with meaning, to make the difference, to do nothing.
There will always be something. There’s always something that you could do.
Is the something going to be more valuable than the rest? The pause, the stillness, the meditation, the breathing, the paying attention, the being present, the giving of your attention to something right in front of you, rather than racing through all of the things that your head has, going a hundred miles an hour.
I don’t know. That’s a question that you will have to answer for yourself.
The first tip that I have for you in those instances, when you just don’t really feel like doing anything right now.
The first tip is to ask yourself, Can I be okay doing nothing? Can I allow myself some space for that rest and relaxation and rejuvenation?
Maybe I don’t feel like doing anything right now because I’m exhausted.
Maybe I’m uninspired.
Maybe I’m not super motivated.
Maybe I haven’t planned.
Maybe I am out of energy.
Maybe I just need a break.
All of those things are okay. All of those things are taking care of yourself.
If I’ve learned one thing in the last 10-15 years of my adult life it’s that there will always be something to do. There will always be something more. That list doesn’t end.
So if we can’t actually get to the end of it, then there’s a lot of sense to be made in taking the pauses that we need and creating allowance and grace for ourselves, living in a way that we can keep up with that.
Maybe we can spend a day looking at the grasshopper and wandering through the fields. How else are we to spend our wild and precious life? I love that poem in juxtaposition to that end quote.
I most often have seen that quote used in the frame of reference with something big and important. Like, how are you going to use your life? You’re going to write a book. You’re going to have a bunch of kids that all play different instruments and have a family band. Or you’re going to start a big company. Or you’re going to travel the world.
It’s often used as a justification or a promotion of the idea of go, do, achieve. When that’s exactly the opposite of what Mary Oliver intended. What else is more important than being present and wandering the fields and observing nature.
That is the prayer that is life. There’s nothing more meaningful than being present in it. I love it so much.
That is the first and most important point of this episode when you don’t feel like doing anything, maybe you can allow yourself to do nothing. Maybe you can practice that it takes practice. It is not a natural thing.
I have four more points I want to share. And these are, if you ask yourself, (1) Do I not feel like doing anything because I really just could use a pause and I really would feel rejuvenated by some relaxation and rest, or (2) Do I not feel like doing anything because I just feel overwhelmed and I don’t really know where to start.
If it’s number one, then give yourself space to just stare out the window, go on a walk, read a book, enjoy the sunshine, make some tea.
If it’s number two, and your lack of motivation is stemming specifically from overwhelm from lack of planning, I’m going to offer the following four tips:
Tip 2: Get Specific
So number two, in my tips of what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything, is to get incredibly, minutely specific with what it is that you are trying to accomplish or that you want to do next.
If you just have like a super long list of big ideas, you have to just start somewhere, and I’m serious that you can flip a coin. You can flip it. If something isn’t very obviously the highest priority, or you don’t have a real yearning to do one thing or another. And if these are all things that you want to, you know, that are your own sort of deadlines for yourself for your life. Or not, maybe you have a deadline.
Get incredibly specific with the very, very first step that you need to do. So for example, with this podcast episode that I was sitting here and I have like three other podcast episodes outlined and planned, and I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I had this idea of, I just should do a show about that.
And so what is the very first step that would help me do that? I grabbed my microphone. From off of the shelf and I plugged it into my computer and I opened up the program. Like those are the first steps I could do that I could get the microphone off the shelf that starting the ball rolling is often.
Just the tiniest bit of momentum that you need to continue with what you want to do. But if you don’t, if you don’t continue, at least you’ve accomplished that first step and you can then move on to the next tiny little step. At some point, if you take teeny, teeny tiny steps, the thing that you want to do, but don’t feel like doing will get done.
You just have to take one teeny tiny, very clear step at a time. It has to be really specific. Really, really, really specific and very small. That is number two, get really specific.
Tip 3: Write It Down
Tip three is to write it down. We have tons of research that shows how writing things down vastly increases our ability to accomplish them.
Sometimes it’s because. Of remembering them, like if you’re planning for the next week or the next month or the next year, even writing things down makes it so you can reference your plans, but sometimes writing something down, just gets it out of your head, puts it on paper. If you’re using a pen and paper or pencil, that’s even more powerful than like writing it on your phone.
On a note, for example, connecting your physiology of the action of writing with the thought that’s in your head. Propels you forward. It helps you solidify the idea. It’s so much easier to work from a written document, from a list, from an outline then just from your head, because our head has so many other things going on in it that sometimes we start to get lost or our mind starts to wander and meander into other pathways or to memories or to plans.
When we have it written down. The thing that we want to do, or the next few steps that we want to take, then we are much, much more motivated. We’re much more likely to accomplish them. I’m actually going to take a picture of what I wrote down in order to. Produce this episode for you? I plugged into my microphone.
I had the idea. Okay. I’m just going to do a show about not feeling like doing anything. Cause I don’t really feel like doing anything. And I had already, yes, given myself a chance to sit and relax and stare out the window and talk to my mom on the phone and go on a walk and get myself a drink and I wanted to get going.
I just didn’t have that motivation. I was a little bit overwhelmed. So I wrote down the steps. I got my microphone out. I plugged it in. That was my first step. I got really specific and I wrote myself. A very, very basic outline. I’ll put it in the show notes. If you want to see my working outline for this episode, it’s at live free creative.co/podcast.
Look for episode one 48 eight, write it down. That will make such a huge difference. In addition to write it down, I actually want to add on a little sub number three, I think telling someone else about it. Is so helpful having an accountability partner, it can be as quick as texting your sister or your husband or your partner and saying, Hey, I’m going to record episode one 48 over the next hour.
Ask me about it when I get home or Hey, you know, telling your kids at two o’clock this afternoon, we’re going to fold the laundry. We’re going to turn on a movie and fold the laundry. So. You know, look forward to that. Let’s set a timer, let’s put it on the calendar informing or involving other people helps that motivation a little bit.
That feeling of, I don’t really feel like doing anything, but when you get really clear, you’ve decided that you are going to do something, you write it down and then you, you let someone know that. Can be really beneficial as well. So make sure that you, if you want, if you feel like it’s helpful for you, that you involve someone else in your plans, someone who will be gentle if you end up not following through all the way, but also who will be supportive and encouraging.
Tip 4: Add Something You Love
Tip four is to add something that you love to the experience.
So maybe you don’t feel like doing whatever it is that you don’t feel like doing because you just don’t really like doing it. If it’s something that you don’t really like doing, or you don’t really feel like doing, and it, you know, that it will be good for you, you know, it will be good for you for your family, for your business.
Add something to it, to the process that you do enjoy. My specific example today is that I’ve got myself some snacks. I have this actually, it’s kind of a new thing at trader Joe’s. This many things snack mix. It has honey roasted peanuts, spicy and honey butter, cereal squares, corn sticks, pretzels, and savory bread crisps.
And I’ve just been munching on that as I’ve been preparing for this show, of course, I’m not eating it in the middle of recording, but I’ve got it here on my desk. It’s just my little snack to make the experience of being here, working, even though the sun is shining and I’d probably rather be sitting by the pool, but I want to be doing the things that I’m doing.
I want to be recording. I just don’t. Really feel like it actually, now that I’m doing it, I’m loving it because I love the show and I love recording for you. And I love chatting with you and I love sharing with you. Sometimes. I just have to overcome that little bit of a, I just don’t feel like doing anything when I add something I love to the thing I don’t feel like doing I all of the sudden am a little bit more interested in it.
This is a tool used by lots of different professionals, lots of different habits, stackers who will say. Turn on some great music. Get yourself a snack while you clean the kitchen or do the dishes. If you’re doing spreadsheets at work and you know that your eyes sort of glaze over, do him for 20 minutes and then give yourself a 10 minute break to watch Saturday night live, and then go back to it for 20 minutes and reward yourself.
Give yourself something fun to look forward to, uh, I think playing music or dressing up in a fun way or getting a nice snack or. You know, whatever it is that you really enjoy. If you give yourself something that you relish. I know a lot of people that like to listen to podcasts while they work out or listen to audio books while they, you know, ride their bike or commute something that isn’t quite as fun that you don’t, you might not really feel like doing, but you pair it with something that you love that can help motivate you a little bit, help, add a little bit of enthusiasm and encouragement to it.
Something that I have loved with my retreats. I have a fall work retreat coming up. A lot of the women who come to these retreats have big projects that they mean to work on. They want to work on, you know, writing a book or catching up on all of their family scrapbooks for the last three years or working on an online course, uh, writing content for social media for the next three months.
These are. Projects that need some time they need some energy, they need some effort. They can feel overwhelming and investing in an experience that surrounds them and envelops them in. Coziness and luxury while they’re able to do this work is so helpful. So you come and you have friends that you can work parallel with their beautiful locations, incredible food, great conversation, daily meditation, and yoga, the ability to.
Chat and communicate with, and, you know, get to know other women and also get this work that can be taxing and can be sometimes emotionally exhausting, you know, work on that. It’s so wonderful. It’s like filling your work with this magic for the four days of creative camp. That is a great example, you know, a big example, but a great example of pairing something that you might just not feel like doing with something that will be highly motivating and highly encouraging.
And. As a little plug, there are a couple spots left for fall creative camp in Vermont. It’s October 13th through 17th. I’m going to say you can go to live free creative.co/camp and find all of the details for that. It’s going to be incredible. The peak season of the leaves. So if you don’t feel like working one day, you can just wander around in the mountains.
I mean, it’s going to be incredible. Okay. So that’s number four, add a treat at a reward. Find a way to just put a little something that you love paired with the thing that you don’t really feel like doing, and you might feel like doing it a little bit more.
Tip 5: Celebrate
Number five, my last tip for what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything is to celebrate, to celebrate.
Your life to celebrate what it is that you have the opportunity to do to flip the script a little bit, not only celebrate when you finish or when you actually do it, but celebrate having the opportunity, celebrate the chance to be. Alive to do something incredible. There’s always, I mean, at the risk of this sounding like purely toxic positivity, there is often something really incredible about the things happening in our lives.
Even if we don’t feel like doing anything. So, I mean, you can use number one and number five together. If you decide that you want to just. Not do anything like you do. You don’t feel like doing anything and you ask yourself the question, do I need to do anything? And you allow yourself the peace and the grace to just be, to be still, to practice the art of doing nothing.
You can add number five and celebrate that. Give yourself a pat on the back, it’s incredibly mature, emotionally mature, uh, intellectually mature to recognize that you do not have to be doing more than being that your worth isn’t inherently tied to accomplishment, but that it is inherent period.
Celebrate the ability to. Be still to choose to not do anything for a little while, celebrate the stillness and the presence. And if you decide you’re going to get really specific, you’re going to write something down, you know, set a timer, call a friend, add a treat, or a reward. Celebrate the opportunity.
To do whatever it is that you’re going to do. You know, if it’s sort of mundane or menial feeling household tasks. Sometimes I like to just rejoice in the ability to have a home, to have clothing, to wash, to have dishes, to load into the dishwasher, the celebration, and, and in some ways the prayer. Of gratitude that it is to be alive and be surrounded by things that require our attention, our maintenance.
And I know that sometimes it’s tricky. Sometimes it just feels like a lot, like too much, like we’re running ourselves ragged. And even in the very, most simple life, there are things to do. There are things to maintain. Waking up and moving our bodies and eating and, you know, preparing food or at least going out and finding it or hunting and gathering it.
You know, there is something, some pieces that are inherent to all life. Our modern world looks a lot different. There’s definitely a lot of things that we don’t need to do. Like you, you don’t need to do probably 80% of the things that you think you should. Some basics though. Can just be a celebration.
So as a quick recap, what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything, number one, maybe just do nothing, embrace it.
Allow yourself to sit and look out the window for as long as you need, you don’t need to always be moving. You don’t need to always be doing. And if the feeling of not wanting to do it. Not wanting to do anything comes from overwhelmed, just from not knowing where to begin. Start by getting really specific, picking something, anything, and just narrowing it down to the very first simple, basic step.
Write it down on a piece of paper with a pen, call someone, tell someone, send someone a note, add a treat, or a reward. Make it more fun by doing it in combination with something that you love. And finally celebrate, celebrate the opportunity as well as the achievement celebrate, having this life to lead.
Okay. Thank you so much for tuning in today. This short, sweet episode, what to do when you don’t feel like doing anything. Friends. I hope that as we head into the summer, that you can join me in embracing, doing a little bit less, being still asking yourselves, is it really necessary because not everything is a couple of things I have going on that you may be interested in.
Summer camp. There’s about six tent sites left in Thatcher, Idaho, July 28 through 31st. That will be a perfect place to do nothing. Unless you feel like doing something. We’ve got crafts, we’ve got river sports soaking in hot Springs book club. It’s going to be incredible. And I would love to have you there if you’re nearby and you want to bring a tent, click on summer firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
I also have a couple openings right now for creative mentorship. I do once and twice a month live coaching calls. They’re hour long calls, and I can help you. Work on a creative project, I can help you find some balance work-life balance. I use my 15 years of experience in online business, social media, product sales development book, writing to help people dig up and live out their dreams.
All of the information that you need. For my creative mentorships is at patrion.com/live free creative. You also can join on Patrion if you want to become a podcast. Plus member join our digital book club that happens once a month. It’s super fun. Get some bonus episodes and feel a little bit more involved in supporting that live free creative podcast community.
And finally as always, I just want to thank you for being here and invite you to share about the show. You can do that by taking a screenshot, sharing it on social media and tagging me at live free Miranda. You can do that by leaving a rating and review on iTunes. It means the world to me, to have you tune in and listen to the show every week.
And I hope. That it brings you a little bit of encouragement, a little inspiration for a creative, adventurous, and intentional life. Have a wonderful week. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye. Bye.