What To Do When You Feel Like Doing Nothing
Feeling overwhelmed by life and things outside of your control? Take a moment and get some inspiration from these 13 ideas on what to do when you feel like doing nothing.
A fellow blogger decided to make a different type of New Year’s resolution this year.
Knowing fully well that a defined action item would likely be swept under the rug of lingering 2020 issues, she simplified things to a single word. The idea was to think of a word that you want to emulate in 2021, leave the details undefined and strive for a high-level goal.
There are no strings attached, no naivety; it is simply a compass to guide what decisions you’ll make in 2021. And I ate it up.
I think it’s been really hard to feel like this year is new. The stink of 2020 has lingered in the air like bad cheese, and the weight of the unknowns makes it almost impossible to move away from it. A new day dawns, you sit on your phone, and the cheese continues to wreak.
I believe the way to overcome this hurdle, to find an ounce of fulfillment during our most genuine Wednesdays, is to simplify things.
What’s my word for 2021? Joy.
Through all of my happiness research and life lessons learned, I know that the key to happiness is not within the four corners of my iPhone. It wasn’t cancelled with my trip to Florida, and it didn’t vanish overnight on March 13th, 2020.
Happiness is the simplest, most pure emotion we can come by. I plan to find joy in whatever I can this year because life is unpredictable, but it is beautiful, and it is worth it.
So, let’s take this first step together. Let’s focus on the simple things.
I want to share with you my list of things you can do when you feel like doing nothing this year.
The idea for this post actually came from an exercise I did for myself. The new year had just begun, and I found myself in a lazy, agitated state. I wasn’t as productive as I normally am but I also wasn’t really resting. I was on my phone too much (and, for me, it takes a toll).
Feeling pissy, I said, “enough,” and grabbed a pen and an old battered college notebook. I began to write down anything low effort I could do instead of sitting on my phone.
I was real about it. I didn’t put anything like “start a new project” because I knew I wasn’t up for it. I wasn’t going to get up and move mountains; I just needed a few first steps.
If today feels like you could use some inspiration for those first few steps, look no further.
Broken down into categories for what you might be craving, please enjoy my “What to Do When You Feel Like Doing Nothing” lists.
1. Read a Physical Book
Poets don’t write about the charming smell of an old book for nothing. Grab a fictional novel from your youth or an article you skimmed over from last week. Give your mind creative and healthy content to absorb.
2. Meditate or Pray
There is a power within us that we will not know unless we listen.
There are spiritual truths that have transcended religions, Gandhi to Mother Teresa. If you’re curious, you can read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, but it’s truly amazing stuff.
I can't begin to express the wonders prayer has done in my life. When the weight of life feels overbearing, offer it up to a higher power; you don't need to carry it alone.
3. Call a Friend
Odds are some of your friends might need a little reminder to break out of an unmotivated funk, too.
The benefits of reaching out to someone are twofold; genuinely caring for someone else makes them feel loved and it helps you gain perspective that there is more to the world than what affects you…
It sounds harsh but too often people are in their own world putting their needs in front of others. The great irony is that we know from history and research that true happiness comes from connection and camaraderie with others. It’s so strange how humans are often so out of touch with what creates happiness in our lives.
BUT I digress. Moving on!
4. Get Fresh Air
I know that if I spend a full day indoors, everything and everyone will inevitably piss me off. Sometimes all it takes is a step outside with fresh air to reset the mind and carry on.
5. Journal, friends.
Whether it’s detailing your day or listing 3 things you’re thankful for, you are documenting a moment of your life that you can look back on for the rest of your life. The “silly” things you feel that you put to page is literal documented history.
I started journaling in 2010, and it’s quite nostalgic being able to peer into my thoughts and see the world through my 6th grade understanding.
One of my favorite entries was just before my junior year of high school when I was stressed about not having a group of friends to go to the fall dance with. A few months later, I would go to the dance with my now fiancé and best friends.
What a special thing to look back on that took me little to no effort.
1. Clean Anything
Take a crack at cleaning the cringeworthy clutter off your bureau or within the pantry closet.
I find that cleaning something so random gives me a box to check, and I feel productive. This can literally be as simple as moving a bill that came in the mail off the coffee table and into the file where it belongs.
Create a clean slate and the refreshed space might refresh you.
2. Schedule Tomorrow
If you’re really pooped, go into your phone and schedule how you’ll be productive tomorrow. This is how I get myself to be productive, and it actually works.
Oftentimes, I’ll find myself scrolling on Pinterest looking for answers on what I should do or distracting me from what I really should do. My mind tricks me into thinking it’s productive but it’s actually the worst; it’s the perfect in between of rest and actual productivity. I refer to it as lost time.
So, I un-trick myself by creating a written plan for the next day. Wake up at 8am, work out, run this errand, type that blog section, etc. When I do this, I feel like I can truly rest today because I know what’s to be done tomorrow.
A plan cuts through the overwhelming possibilities and gives you what you conceptualized as most important.
3. Put Your Recipes on the Calendar
I know this seems oddly specific, but hear me out.
I used to always come across recipes that I wanted to create (Tasty, NY Times, etc.), but I always forgot to follow through. I mean, try to remember what you saw on Instagram 4 days ago. Next to nothing? Same.
Because of this, I now put recipes into my phone’s calendar and include the web address so it’s accessible right away. Other times, I’m pretty old school, so I’ll print it or write it out and put it somewhere I can see it.
Taking a step back, this can be applicable for anything specific you want to accomplish like a workout regimen or finishing your cup of water by noon to stay hydrated. Nothing is too specific to be scheduled.
4. Hop in the Shower
When I have a rough start to my day, emotionally or physically, I’ll take a shower midway to break the funk.
Sometimes all you need is quiet shower time to clear your head or re-inspire yourself. Or sing your lungs out and forget everything else exists. I like that last one.
5. Take the Find Your Ace Assessment!
Remember I created a little magazine style assessment to help you find a hobby? If not, you can find it right here!
This kind of goes with productivity item #2 because you can print the packet, get inspired for your next project or hobby today, plan what you need to do it, and then get ‘er done tomorrow or on the weekend.
The intention behind the packet is to help you cut corners and find that thing that inspires you, so it feels pretty fitting for a thread like this.
1. Buy into Productive Rest
What I constitute as productive rest is putting your phone on airplane mode, setting a timer, and not napping but resting. This is silence with yourself to allow your creative thoughts to sing.
Unpopular comment but this is not a cat nap nor a moment to binge another Netflix series. The productive rest I am suggesting is not escapism.
This rest is for your buried inner woes that need a safe space to speak or your confusion for aspects of life that just need more time to process. Don’t be afraid to get to know yourself better. Honor him or her, and listen.
If you don’t want to do anything, odds are you’re not in the mood to break a sweat. (Me me me.)
When I feel like this, I like to get off the couch and just stretch for a while. The movement feels intentional, there’s a sense of presence, and greater flexibility is only a good thing.
3. Hear Listen to Music
Get some privacy, turn off the interruptions and listen to an album the way they used to be appreciated.
Today, music has become background music for work and life in general. You walk to class and listen to music. You work on a screen 9 to 5 and score it with Spotify playlists. It’s so accessible and abundant that we’ve changed the way we listen.
But might I suggest that you immerse yourself in intentionally chosen music. Grab that experiential element of music that we often miss nowadays.
AND if you want some connection tied in, sing your little heart out. (I legitimately just came from a personal jam session with Alexa, and I didn’t realize how needed that was.)
A little Ace update:
This post was a compilation of many writing sessions. I feel like I must have picked up and put down this post at least 5 different times because I, too, have been a culprit of not wanting to do anything.
There is so much energy that goes into working from home that once I step away from the laptop, I really don’t want to go back on it. And then throw wedding stuff on top, and it can be…a lot.
So, my posts will take more time to complete, but I am still here for this community.
Be gracious to yourself during this time, focus on positive actions, and I’ll continue to do the same, hence, the bridesmaid shopping pic with GF cookies. :)
Rooting for you, champ.