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Even after all these years of managing depression I still have weeks where I have no motivation to do anything. Living with depression means that managing my mental health is an ongoing thing for me. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, I start to get a little lazy and the next thing I know I’m in the middle of a full-blown depressive episode. It’s so important when you’re at a real low to find some kind of way to keep getting things done. Anything. Even if it’s just little things. When I’m functioning as my best self I can get up early and work for 12 hours straight but there are other days where it’s hard to just manage to get basic shit done. These are tips I use to keep my life moving forward when brushing my teeth feels hard.
If you are feeling depressed and have no motivation to do anything it’s important that you are only working on the most important things. When I feel unmotivated it’s easy to procrastinate by doing other tasks that aren’t really that important. I love Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. One of the strategies he talks about in the book is to do the least desirable task first. Depression makes even doing everyday things difficult and that means that any energy that you have is precious. You want to make sure that you are using your limited energy to get done the most important things (even if the most important thing isn’t something you want to do). Pick three of the most important tasks and only focus on those three. Having a ton of shit to do and very little energy is a recipe for becoming very discouraged. Stay super laser focused on just getting a couple of very important tasks done and forget about the rest of your list for now.
Make a Plan
Getting organized will help you stay on task. Check out the mental health planner I’ve been using to try and stay organized. On Sunday I fill out a weekly planner page so I can see the whole week on one page, then each morning I fill out a daily planner with the tasks I need to get done that day. If I’m feeling low energy I only pick two or three important things and focus on only doing those tasks. It’s easy to get distracted and writing down my to-do list helps me stay on task. Planning out when you’re going to get everything done can help you stay motivated when you’re depressed and want to just lay on the couch forever. Try different planning systems until you find something that works for you. It could be a planner, to-do list, app on your phone or whatever works for you.
Have a Clear Goal
My favorite book for setting goals is The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. The book has you identify what your core desired feelings are and then has you set intentions based on how you want to feel. I love that the focus is on achieving a feeling and not on accomplishing superficial goals. It teaches you how to set goals in a way that is really inspiring and feels really good. Having longterm goals you are working towards can help you get through the day to day bullshit that you have to get done. If you can set some goals that really get you fired up you can use them as motivation when you don’t want to do anything.
I recently finished the The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months. The book has you divide your year up into four 12 week chunks. This creates a sense of urgency because you have less time to accomplish your goals. This helps me stay motivated because I feel like I need to work harder to get things done. When people give themselves a whole year to reach a goal they tend to put off getting started or not work as hard because they feel like they have all the time in the world to complete their goals. The next thing you know the year is over and you haven’t even started your new diet or fitness routine yet. Spend some time thinking about how you can create a sense of urgency to help yourself stay motivated.
Figure out a treat you can get yourself once you reach a certain goal. It’s important to celebrate your success. Make sure you can afford whatever it is that you are celebrating with. Check out my post on how to afford self care when you’re broke for some ideas on how to save money. Once you get a certain task done or achieve a specific thing take yourself for ice cream or to the movies. For smaller tasks watch an episode of your favorite TV show or have some of your favorite snacks. Living with depression is really hard so whenever you’re able to knock something off your to-do list feel victorious. Celebrating your success will help you stay motivated to keep going and achieve more. Focus on the things that you are able to get done and don’t beat yourself up about all the other things on your to-do list.
Listen to Audiobooks
I’ve been using Audible to listen to books and I’ve finished three books in the last two months just by listening to books while I do my makeup and wash the dishes. This is a lot for me because I don’t typically read a lot of books. I originally signed up for audible because they will give you two free books just for signing up. I figured I would end up canceling it after I got the free books but I have found it’s a great way to read more books. Listening to audiobooks is a great way to do something productive with your time when you’re driving or even just laying around. Set a goal to read a certain number of books every month. If you’re struggling with productivity and mental health there are tons of self-help books that can help you live with depression and get shit done.
Unsubscribe from email
Email can be freaking overwhelming. Save yourself the time you spend going through your email by unsubscribing from lists you don’t want to subscribe to anymore. I use unroll.me to keep my email under control. It’s a free service that helps you quickly and easily unsubscribe from email lists you don’t want to be on anymore. Having less email to go through everyday is helpful when you have limited energy and are having a hard time getting everything done. See if there are any other annoying everyday tasks you can eliminate or if there are any tools to help automate or manage them. Having 100s of unread emails is just going to make you discouraged and kill your motivation. Start unsubscribing from junk mail and free yourself from your email. If you need more breaks from technology turn off all your notifications on your phone and delete your news apps. If you have no motivation to do anything it’s time to eliminate any distractions that you can.
Balance is Bullshit
Sometimes getting shit done means being OK with life being out of balance. Maybe you want to write a book so you let the housecleaning slide or maybe you are focusing on spending time with your family so you stopped wearing makeup to have more time with them in the morning. Life comes in seasons and during different seasons your focus is different. It’s completely OK to let some things go for a little bit if you want to focus on improving one area of your life. If you’re struggling with depression now is not the time to try and have a perfectly balanced life. Now is the time to relentlessly focus on taking care of yourself and getting your motivation back. Give yourself a break from the other areas in your life and just really double down on managing your mental health.
See a Therapist
If depression or anxiety are keeping you from achieving what you want to achieve in life see a therapist. Anxiety and depression are both treatable and a therapist will be able to help you figure out what the best treatment option is for you. I’m a huge fan of Better Help. I use it for online therapy and I love that I am able to text my therapist whenever I want throughout the day. For the price of one traditional therapy session a week I get unlimited access to my therapist via skyping, texting or phone calls. A therapist is trained to help you figure out the best options for you and help you find relief. Check out my tips for going to therapy for the first time. You don’t need to keep suffering and there are mental health professionals that can help you.
I hope these tips will help you get going when you have no motivation to do anything. Everyone has times when they are functioning at a really high level and other times where they can’t get as much done. Be realistic about where you’re at and set reasonable tasks for yourself. Don’t get down on yourself if you are not able to get as much done as you want, this is just one phase of your life and it will pass. Living with depression is tough so be sure to give yourself a ton of credit for the things that you are able to get done. If you’re looking for tips to help with school work check out my post on how to do well in school with depression.
I am not a licensed therapist. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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