How to Do Something When You Feel Like Doing Nothing

by Alli Polin on March 10, 2016

Feel Like Doing Nothing

We got a new couch yesterday. Exciting, no?

I’m the kind of shopper who looks and looks to get the perfect thing and then makes an impulse purchase. This time, I bought a deep sea green sectional. It’s cushy and comfy, has recliners built in, and two cup holders for my children’s drinks. It reminds me of an airport lounge, but maybe the first class lounge since it’s super comfortable.

Just in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not a big fan of this particular deep sea green and no, it doesn’t match my family room decor. On the bright side, it is leaps and bounds better than our old one, and they delivered it the next day, a bonus.

I started my morning catching up on email and social media and sat in one of our old chairs across from the new couch. Mind you, I was home alone and could lounge in every single spot; I just didn’t feel like it.

When I bought it, I imagined sitting on the one long wedge, writing. It would become my favorite spot and have my butt indent in no time. Today, I just looked at the spot, and it wasn’t calling my name. I stayed a safe distance by moving to the kitchen table with my computer.

After the catch-up, it was time to get down to business. No client calls today; it was blocked off as a crank out the work day. Although, I wasn’t feeling it.

The only thing that sounded remotely interesting was a nap. Okay, really interesting.

I couldn’t cave and sleep the day away; I had things that had to get done. (The problem was, I didn’t want to do them.)

Instead of taking a nap, I began to ask myself how to get on a better path for the day. I wasn’t depressed; more like apathetic. Yuck. The question I began to play with was, “How do you do something when you feel like doing nothing?” Determined to find an answer that wasn’t just “expert vomit” (nice, right) but actually worked, I decided I’d put my theories to the test. Good news is, they worked, and I’m on my big sea green wedge writing.

We all have days where we feel like doing nothing. It’s not the “oh, I need a day off just to chill out and watch TV” feeling. It’s the “I don’t even want to turn on the TV and feel like doing nothing” feeling… even though I could do virtually anything and have a to-do list to prove it.

Also, if you’re potentially depressed, nothing you read in the rest of this blog post is going to help with your depression. Please go and get the help you need.

8 Tips to Shake Loose Something When You Feel Like Doing Nothing

Get Moving

You could exercise (too much effort on the days like this), or you could just start moving. Get up. Pace, put away the dishes, take a walk around the block just get your body moving. When your blood is pumping, it gives you an energetic burst.

Here’s the biggest reason to move: Your current position is keeping you stuck both physically and mentally. To shift, you’ve got to move. If you’re staring at your computer screen, even a turn of your chair to look out the window can make a difference.

Practice Productive Procrastination

Do something small that needs to get done. I pulled together a pile of laundry and threw it in the wash. Not working on my business but productive nonetheless.

Clothes in, dishes put away, grocery shopping done, I sat back down in the chair. Still didn’t feel motivated to rock and roll on my real work for the day but felt satisfied that I’d made progress in other areas.

Do Something Fun

Take a short break from the pressure you’re putting on yourself. I picked up my iPad and went to a few favorite games. The point isn’t to play for hours but to give your brain a break. I’m not talking about endlessly googling or trying to watch every video on YouTube. A break, not a new plan for the day.

Get Out Into the Sunshine

Where I live it’s sunny, it only rains maybe 40 times a year at most. Today, I got in my car, opened the sunroof and went for a drive to get some more things done (remember productive procrastination?)

Open your blinds, take a drive, go for a walk but no matter what let in the light. Sunlight helps to produce serotonin. Serotonin production picks up your mood and more importantly, in this case, increase your impulse control. If you want to do nothing and are fighting the apathy battle, increased serotonin can help you make a better choice.

Set a Timer

If your interest in tackling hours of work equals your interest in getting a colonoscopy, don’t force yourself. Instead, set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and tell yourself that’s all you have to do. I’m not suggesting you lie to yourself either. Do your 20 and see if it gets things moving. If it doesn’t, try another on the list. If it does, keep going with it.

Set the timer for 20 and then ask yourself if you want to continue. If you do… do! Otherwise, reset the timer for five minutes and take another quick break, move and then set it again for 20.

Dare Yourself

Since I’m in the midst of a 30 day dare to do more writing and put it out there publicly, I needed to do what I said I would do. I didn’t, I’d be disappointed that I gave up.

I modified my dare to take my day and write it into a post before my children came home from school. Once they’re home, it’s loud, busy and writing has to wait until they’re in bed for the night. By then, I wouldn’t get back to it.

Reach Out

Phone a friend, accountability partner, or mastermind group. Be honest with how you’re feeling and your struggle to fully show up and get engaged. A little encouragement can go a long way. Not to mention, they may help you see that once in a while, you need to give yourself permission to falter and let it go. There will always be days like this; the trick is to make tomorrow better.

Take a Closer Look

Do you feel like doing nothing or are you uninspired by what you have to do? It may be time for a change and not just a time to shake up some new thinking and energy. If it’s time for a career change, that’s something no amount of sunlight can fix.

If you feel like you want to do nothing, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

I’m on my new sofa, on my writing wedge. It’s something to celebrate on my day of nothing.

How do you get into motion when all you want to do is stand still?


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Monu Ogbe March 11, 2016 at 5:28 am

LOL. Excellent post. Now, please write one for me! “How to Do Something When you Feel Like Doing Something Else”. Just kidding. Love it.


Alli Polin March 14, 2016 at 12:18 am


Ha! I hear you on that! Talk about pushing yourself to stay focused! I’m putting it on my future blogs list. Many thanks to you for your comment.




Jon Mertz March 11, 2016 at 10:09 am


Nature refreshes, so getting outside is key to re-energizing our efforts and mindset! I am doing that right now….



Alli Polin March 14, 2016 at 12:17 am

I live in a great place to get out into nature for about 4-5 months of the year and it’s fast approaching (scorching the rest of the time!) Looking forward to opening mind, body and spirit outside before camping out again in front of my computer. Big yes on getting into nature! Excellent addition. Thanks, Jon!


Cynthia Bazin March 12, 2016 at 10:59 am

I agree with Jon! Definitely I have been getting out into nature more… even if the weather isn’t the greatest. The fresh air helps me get re-energized. Thanks for another awesome article Alli!


Alli Polin March 14, 2016 at 12:19 am

Fresh air somehow washes away all of the heaviness of not wanting to start and helps us take flight, doesn’t it? Thanks a ton, Cindy!!

~ Alli


Terri Klass March 12, 2016 at 4:01 pm

When I have one of those days I just take action. No matter what that action is, it propels me forward. I might read up on a topic I am interested. I might reach out to a friend or colleague. I might just start writing or designing a program. The key is to act. It is so invigorating and helps me swap my “meh” feeling to “go girl” feeling.

Thanks Alli for inspiring me today!


Alli Polin March 14, 2016 at 12:15 am

That’s a surefire way to get rolling! The hardest thing to do is just to start but once you do you discover that you have momentum. It also rocks to start to see progress. The more you see, the further you want to go.

Awesome. Thanks, Terri!


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