How to Overcome Laziness

How to Overcome Laziness

Call it laziness, sloth, ineptitude, idleness, or whatever you like but the idea of doing nothing when things need to be done is often considered to be a sign of weakness or shirking. Sometimes laziness happens when you don't want to face something, like a boring chore or a difficult confrontation with someone. Other times, it might be because you feel overwhelmed and think the task needs a whole team rather than just you. And then there are those times where you really just can't be bothered. In any case, it's simply not a desirable trait.

[Edit]Things You Should Know

  • Clean and organize your space. Having clutter around you can negatively affect your ability to get motivated.
  • Tell yourself that you can break this habit of laziness. Negative self-talk only holds you back, so monitor your thoughts and put a positive spin on them.
  • Break large goals into smaller, more achievable goals. Accomplishing a goal, even a small one, will motivate you to keep moving forward.


[Edit]Setting Your Mind Straight

  1. Figure out the real issue. Every time you start being lazy, stand back and do a little assessment of what's been really happening. Laziness is generally a symptom and not the problem itself. What's the cause of your lack of motivation? Are you tired, overwhelmed, afraid, hurting, or just plain uninspired and stuck? Most likely, the sticking issue is smaller than you think, and you can get past it more easily than you realize.
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    • Whatever it is that is holding you back, do your best to unearth it. In most cases, it'll be one single specific problem or detail. Finding the cause is the only way you can actually address it. Address it like you want it to happen. Once you address it, you can deal with it effectively.
  2. Focus on the actual problem. Now that you're thinking about the cause of your laziness, start focusing on it. It can be tough to break old habits, but look for small steps you can take so you get used to being productive.[1] It may not be the quick fix you were looking for, but it'll be permanent. Consider the following:
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    • If you're tired, start devoting some time to relaxing. Everyone needs down time. If your schedule doesn't allow for it, you may have to make some sacrifices. But your output will be all the better for it.
    • If you're overwhelmed, take a step back. How can you simplify what's on your plate? Can you parse it into sections and make it smaller? Can you make a list of priorities and tackle them one at a time?
    • If you're afraid, what are you afraid of? Obviously, this is something you wish you were doing. Are you afraid of reaching your potential? Of finally hitting your goals and being unhappy? How can you see that your fear is irrational?
    • If you're hurting, maybe the only answer is time. Grief, sadness, all those negative emotions won't go away at will. Our wounds need time to heal. Putting less pressure on yourself to stop hurting may be the catalyst for change you seek.
    • If you're uninspired, what can you change about your routine? Can you put yourself in a different environment or is a mental demon you have to conquer? How can you vamp up everyday life? Think in terms of your senses. Music, food, sights, sounds, etc
  3. Get organized. Having clutter around us -- even when it's just visual -- can be a huge downer to our motivational skills. Whatever it is that could do for some organization, organize it. Whether it's your desk, your car, your whole house, or your routine, clean 'er up.
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    • There's a lot that's going on in our subconscious that we don't account for. Whether it's an unpleasant color palette or an inadequate amount of light or a lack of balance in some way, shape, or form, somewhere we know about it. Get rid of that tiny-but-powerful deterrent by getting organized.
  4. Monitor that self-talk. Sometimes behaviors cause thoughts and sometimes thoughts cause behavior. Cover your bases and get rid of the negative inner dialogue. Thinking, "God, I'm so lazy. Ugh. Worthless," isn't going to get you anywhere. So stop it. Only you have control of that ticker tape going on behind your eyes.
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    • Every time you find yourself not performing up to par, twist it around to the positive. "It was a slow morning, but now it's time to fuel up. Now that it's afternoon, I'm buckling down!" You'll be surprised that the surge in mental positivity could actually change your outlook.
  5. Practice mindfulness.[2] So many of us don't take time to stop and smell the roses. We scarf down a great meal just to get to dessert, just to get to the wine, just to get to bed with an overly full stomach. We're always thinking about the next great thing instead of living in this wonderful moment that is right now. When we start living in the moment, we want to take advantage of it.
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    • Next time you find yourself thinking about the past or the future, draw yourself back into the present. Whether it's the scene around you, the food on your fork, or the music in your ears, let it show you how cool it is to be walking Earth and living. Sometimes stopping and slowing down can give us the energy to take advantage of what we have at our disposal.
  6. Think of the benefits. Alright, so we got you focused on the present. Now let's focus on a better present. What would happen if you took advantage of right now? What would happen if instead of wasting away the morning in bed you got up and did yoga, finished your work, or cooked a great breakfast? What would happen if you did that practically every day for the next six months?
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    • It'd be wonderful, that's what. Let these positive ideas take over your train of thought. And be sure to realize that once you get going and develop the habit, everything will come that much easier.

[Edit]Getting Geared Up

  1. Jump out of bed. Research tells us that hitting the snooze button is bad for us.[3] You'd think lying there and enjoying the warmth of the covers would make you more energized later, but the opposite happens. We're actually more tired throughout the day. Instead, jump out of bed and start a consistent morning routine.[4] Your mind will follow the cues your body is giving it. If you jump out of bed, you must be ready and raring to go.
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    • Try placing your alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off. This makes pressing the snooze button or falling back asleep much more difficult.
    • Literally jump if you can master it. Get your blood circulating. It may be the last thing you want to do, but if you can make yourself, you'll be all that more alive after.
  2. Set some achievable goals.[5] By setting yourself some worthy yet attainable goals, you have something to look forward to. Pick goals which really inspire you and that make the most of your talents and skills. Make a to-do list, both of large and small things, and prioritize each one in terms of time needed and importance to you personally.
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    • It may prove useful to keep a personal journal for each day of your target activities, with a record of what exactly may have helped or hindered you with regard to reaching your target as part of your practical logistics for self-development.
    • Consider creating a vision board to post all your goals and dreams on. Be creative and use pictures, magazine articles, etc. Such a board can be used to fully map out your dreams. Each day upon waking, look at your vision board and focus on where you want to be. This will provide an inspired start to your day, and push you to your dreams.
      • Not everyone finds the vision board approach inspiring but there are other ways, such as mind maps, journals, creating a vision statement and telling others about it, making public pledges online to do something, etc.
  3. Make a checklist of the desires, goals and motivations you want to move towards. As you power through them, check! Keeping the goals forefront in your mind requires actually focusing on them and a list can keep you energized through its ease of checking. Place copies of your goal sheet or routine everywhere: one on the fridge, on your night stand, by your computer, on your bathroom mirror, even on the bedroom door. Just place them where you look or go to often.
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    • Once those checks start accumulating, you won't want to stop. You'll literally see what you've been working towards and what you're capable of and that momentum will feel so good you'll have to keep going. You'd be disappointed and feel worse if you didn't.
    • Make daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly plans so you have smaller, more achievable goals.[6]
  4. Regularly revisit the importance and value of the problem or goal. Once you've settled on a goal or faced the problem in need of tackling, it doesn't miraculously direct you without effort on your behalf. Part of the success behind having a goal or finding a solution depends on reminding yourself of why it matters. If you lose sight of the goal or solution, it's easy to become embedded in distractions and dead-ends that make it seem too hard to continue, allowing laziness to set in. Regular reassessments of both the importance and value of the problem or goal will help to keep you focused and refreshed. Some things to ask yourself include:
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    • Is this something that I can actually afford to ignore or allow to go on unsolved for more time?
    • Is this something that could be improved by having somebody else help me or share insights with me about?
    • Am I using the right approach to solving this issue or pursuing this goal? (Sometimes it's time to follow a new approach than to keep pursuing the same old path.)
    • Am I being perfectionist in my expectations? (Perfectionism can lead to procrastination, which can soon lead to nothing getting done because nothing is ever going to be good enough. The end result? Laziness sets in because it's "all too hard". Avoid falling into this vicious spiral by always doing your best, rather than focusing on aiming for nothing-but-perfection.)
  5. Tell yourself you can do something. Action changes everything. One moment you're passive and frozen; the next you're digging in and changing things simply because you moved, decided something or got out there. You are not defined by what went on before –– you are always in a position to reinvent yourself and make change happen. You just gotta think it and believe it.
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    • If you do feel stuck, try jumping up, doing the task, and telling yourself "Despite that old habit of freezing up, I am up right now and I am productive!" Keep your language in the present –– no conditional, future or past language should form part of your action statements. And definitely no "if only" statements –– those are for people who truly don't want to be fulfilled in life.
  6. Iron your clothes. Let's say you're sitting on the couch, staring at your computer and all the would-be spreadsheets you wished would create themselves right now. Give it up. Instead, do something teeny, like ironing your clothes. You'll get out the iron, get out the board, get out your shirt, and five minutes into it you'll think, "Why am I wasting time ironing my clothes?" You'll put it down, be a little more awake from the activity, and get going on what you actually wanted to get done.
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    • And the other upside? You'll have a pressed shirt.
      • It doesn't have to be ironing, obviously. It could even be showering. Just getting up and doing something is sometimes the hardest obstacle -- when it's something small, it greases the tracks for us, making all activity smoother sailing.
  7. Exercise. The benefits of exercise are innumerable, really, but one of the main ones is to feel more energized 24/7.[7] It gets your blood flowing, your metabolism up, and your body in an energized state that lasts practically all day. If getting going in the morning is an issue for you, exercise for even 15 minutes. You'll feel more lively through the afternoon.
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    • Did we mention it's also a huge part of being healthy? When we're healthy, we feel better on the whole. If you're not currently exercising (especially aerobic, but anaerobic, too), make efforts to put it into your routine. The goal should be around 150 minutes a week, but whatever you can muster, do it.[8]
    • While we're at it, eat healthy, too. Junk food doesn't give your body the nutrients it needs to be active. A body lacking in energy can easily cause you to feel lazy and apathetic –– it's a good idea to get a doctor's check-up if you're worried about your nutrient intake or energy levels.
  8. Dress the part. Sometimes we lack motivation for life. Just life. We become complacent in our jobs, our living situation, our relationships, and we just sort of fester in our own little world, knowing we should be trying harder to expand. The easiest way to start on that path to change? Dress differently.
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    • Whether you're a pizza delivery guy wishing you were on the floor of the Stock Exchange or a couch potato wishing you were running the Boston Marathon, changing your clothes may change your behavior. If you don't believe it, think of it this way: How would you address a guy in a suit? After a while, that guy in a suit starts living in a world that addresses him like a guy in a suit. So get your jogging pants on. Eventually you'll end up wondering why you're not jogging.

[Edit]Taking Action

  1. Start. Everything begins somewhere, even if it's pulling the staples out of the piece of paper you have to get on with reading or wiping the fog off the windshield so you can drive the car out of your driveway. Overcoming the initial inertia that is natural for most human beings faced with difficult situations or tasks will immediately ease the pain of avoiding it. It will also highlight how to keep tackling it further. Eating the elephant one bite at a time will create momentum and you'll accumulate the confidence to stay motivated and find things less intimidating.
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    • Expecting life to be easy street is unrealistic –– life is often difficult, and sometimes, it's really difficult. But life is also wonderful, surprising, exciting and filled with hope. By being lazy, you excommunicate yourself from the possibilities of life and that's self-destructive. By improving your own attitude toward daily discomforts and learning to tolerate things that impact you, your resilience grows and you will find yourself becoming more constructive. Whenever something seems mammoth, hard and undesirable, just start it. Don't argue about it, don't make excuses, don't fight it––just get stuck into it with small steps.
    • To help motivate yourself, try using the 5-second rule. When you start to feel stressed or get the urge to procrastinate, give yourself 5 seconds to start the activity. This keeps you from sitting around and rationalizing it, and gets you going.[9]
  2. Take your time. It's vital to break down your job into small steps. The smaller things are, the more accessible they are and the more doable they seem. When you actively seek a way to do a task or reach a goal that involves a sense of control and takes a relaxed approach, you'll feel capable rather than threatened. Often laziness is about feeling overwhelmed by everything and giving up because the mental hurdle before you seems too huge. The answer is to trust in the power of small.
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    • This doesn't mean you can't switch between tasks –– you most certainly can, and variety is the spice of maintaining interest. What it does mean though is that each small task must be done separately, with clean breaks between each one rather than fiddling here and there at the same time. Also, when moving between each task, find clean breakpoints so that it's easy to resume when you return to the task after a break.
    • It is often said that those who complain they have no time are wasting it in inefficient ways, like multi-tasking. The human brain works inefficiently when there is constant pressure to do several things under tight deadlines –– in other words, multi-tasking dumbs us down. Free yourself by doing what matters in neat order, without guilt.
  3. Give yourself pep talks. You are your own coach, your own source of inspiration. You can gear yourself into action by telling yourself inspiring things and affirming your actions. Tell yourself such things as: "I want to do this; I am doing this now!" and "I can take a break when this is done and that break will be deserved all the more for completing this task." Say these things out loud if needed. You'll feel motivated by giving voice to your actions.
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    • It may help to regularly recite an empowering mantra to yourself throughout the day, such as "I can do this, I know it." You can also visualize certain activities as already completed and anticipate the sense of accomplishment that you will experience when it's done.
  4. Ask for help when you need it. Many people carry around an unwarranted fear that it's wrong to ask for the help of others. Whether this has developed as a result of an earlier unkind encounter, a stifling educational experience or a fiercely competitive workplace, it's an unhealthy attitude toward life. We are social beings and part of our existence is about sharing and helping one another. Getting from "me to we" takes a little practice but it's an important part of growing and ceasing to struggle alone.
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    • Sometimes having another person hold us accountable is the impetus to action we need. If you're struggling with weight loss, get a workout buddy! That other person puts a pressure on us we can't put on ourselves (in a good way).
    • Make sure to surround yourself with people that support and drive you. When all we know are draining relationships, it's easy to see why laziness is a problem. Find your inner circle of people that make you feel good and channel them for guidance.
  5. Get real with yourself. Stay off the couch until you're ready to take a break. Even when you do sit, set a time when you'll return to your task or other activities such as reading a textbook, running a load of laundry or writing to a friend, etc. Self-discipline involves doing what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. No matter how early your training begins, this remains the most difficult lesson to master. Strike a healthy balance between being lenient and strict with yourself and prioritize business over pleasure.
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    • Rewards are sweetest when you have to wait for them and when they're deserved. You'll just end up being hard on yourself if you end up watching TV for two hours after 10 minutes of work. Resist. You'll feel better in the long run.
  6. Compliment yourself every step of the way. Before you gulp at the possible arrogance of this, remember that this isn't a vanity-fest –– it's about maintaining your motivation. Whenever you finish a step, a small goal, a signpost along the way, find ways to cheer yourself on. Completing a task or effort will feel remarkably good each time.
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    • Celebrate the achievement by telling yourself that you've done well. Say something like: "Good stuff! You're on a roll; keep this up and you're going to make it to the end of this". Since big successes are made up of many little continuous successes (each small achievement is heroic), acknowledge your diligence accordingly.

[Edit]Staying Motivated

  1. Learn to reward yourself for the very small things you complete or try. Occasional rewards will sweeten the tasks and help keep you on track. If you manage to do something that you didn't the day before or that you were absolutely dreading, you deserve a nice treat. By rewarding yourself after completion of small milestones along the way to the big one, you build in automatic reinforcement that you're doing the right thing. Keep most rewards simple but effective, such as extended breaks, catching a movie, splurging on a calorie-laden snack (once in a while!) or similar things. Leave really large rewards for the overall achievement or endpoint. By using self-rewards, you'll train your mind to actively seek working before the reward.
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    • Breaks are rewards and necessities. Don't confuse the need to take regular short breaks to restore creativity and freshness with laziness.
    • Clearly, the flip side to rewards is punishment. People respond best to positive reinforcement and it's best to stick to the rewards. Punishing yourself for not achieving things will simply backfire, confirming your worst-held beliefs about yourself that you're lazy and good-for-nothing. That's a pointless exercise if ever there was one.
  2. Write down your goals each week. A list of weekly goals will help you stay focused and motivated. As you go, it's inevitable that your goals will change. You'll also pinpoint the ways that are most effective for achieving them. As they morph, so should your list.
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    • Post the list everywhere and anywhere. Try making it your lock screen on your device or phone. To do this, simply write them in your notes, take a screenshot and make it your background. Create daily goals, monthly goals, and even yearly goals to keep looking at every day differently.
  3. Realize that life is about trading costs and benefits. To enjoy any benefit, there is usually a cost to be suffered. The pain/suffering cost is usually emotional, often physical and sometimes psychic. Often that pain involves a feeling of being left out or going without while others don't seem to be putting up with the same challenges (usually they have their own challenges which you don't see though). And that pain can cause you to avoid, distract and seek safety in a comfort zone. To push past your comfort zone, you'll need to face the pain before you can reach the possibilities.[10]
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    • Assess whether a potential benefit is worth the cost to you. If it is worth it (and most times, it will be), draw on your ever-evolving maturity to generate the required courage, endurance and discipline that will give you the strength to achieve brilliant outcomes. Nobody achieves anything without effort and pain.
  4. Know that the work is worth it. Most experts, professionals and geniuses will readily admit that most of their achievements are 99 percent sweat and one percent talent. Undisciplined talent gets few people anywhere –– excellence in academics, financial autonomy, sports, the performing arts and relationships demands steady and consistent thoughtfulness and work that strains even the best of us emotionally and physically. Your will to survive and flourish needs to translate to your will to work and suffer when to do so is both necessary and useful.
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    • You won't be a great businessman, a great runner, a great cook, or even great at your job overnight. You'll fail and fail and fail and fail. This is normal. This is good. This means you're still going.
  5. Declutter your schedule. Having too many activities or distractions in your daily life can make it easy to avoid the things you need to do. Try to declutter your schedule by delegating important tasks and removing non-necessary ones. Turn off distractions, and focus on your goals.
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    • For example, if you are trying to write 1,000 words every weekend but find you keep falling short because of your extracurricular activities, consider getting rid of one of them. By cutting out even one one-hour meeting a week, you'll have more time to reach your goal.
  6. Stay on track. There will be times when it gets harder and post-reward you can sometimes feel a bit flat about returning to the task at hand. In such times, you'll need to draw on inner reserves to remind yourself of the goal or solution sought to stay focused. Make the most of feeling that you're on a roll –– when you're in that state (often termed "the flow state"), use it to leap to another task or goal as soon as you're done rewarding yourself.
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    • The longer that you delay restarting after finishing one element in your tasks or goals, the harder it becomes to restart. Remember the feelings of being deeply involved in getting things done, and how good it feels to achieve things. And the sooner you restart, the more confident you'll feel and the sooner these good feelings will be restored.
    • Consider asking someone to be your accountability partner. If, for example, you have a goal of going to the gym every day, ask a friend to hold you accountable. Text them every day after you go. If you don't go, have them text you to remind you of your goal.
  7. Don't give up. It's one thing to find your motivation. But it's quite something else to keep it going when the going gets tough, especially in the face of unforeseen problems. Realize that interruptions happen, often for no reason, and they'll upend your efforts. Rather than letting setbacks demotivate you, see them for what they are and refuse to be flattened by them. You're not alone and staying focused on working through challenges is one of the best ways of coping and bouncing back.
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    • Remind yourself how much you want to achieve your goal or task, seek help where needed, take stock of what you have already achieved and then refuse to give up. You got this.



  • Drink cold water when you feel lazy. The water stimulates your brain, increasing the want to move around and get things done.
  • If you do not work or need to leave your house first thing in the morning, set your alarm to wake up at a decent morning hour, say 7 am. Shower, get dressed and make yourself look presentable before leaving your room. Always dress as if you were planning to leave the house; get out of your pajamas before leaving the bedroom. Make your bed so it doesn't encourage you back or add to the general slovenly feel of your room.
  • When contemplating whether or not you should do something, think to yourself "I'll do what I have to do, so I can do what I want to do."
  • Avoid sugar and especially foods with "high fructose corn syrup" or "corn syrup" in the ingredients, as these can lead your body into metabolizing sugars instead of fats. Unnatural sugars (without fiber) may give you a short energy buzz, but then a blood sugar drop and you will feel fatigued and hungry. Bad food can initiate lazy behaviors.
  • Surround yourself with people who uplift you, whether it is through media, technology or otherwise. The love, support and encouragement of others can boost your inner strength.
  • Try using the 20/10 technique. A 20/10 is 20 minutes of completing a task (cleaning, studying, what have you) followed by a 10-minute break. 45/15s are the same, only, you know, 45 and 15. Start off slowly, with 10/5, if you need to.
  • Keep reminding yourself of your goals and why you are doing this. Also try to think of the downsides of not working to achieve your goal in the long run. This will give you a sudden surge of determination.
  • Put your alarm on the other side of the room so that you have to get out your bed to stop the alarm.
  • Doing meditation can help reduce laziness by improving your level of alertness and your awareness of the present moment as you pay attention to your breathing, posture and five senses, as well as your capacity to control and focus your thoughts, emotions and level of positive energy.
  • Consider getting rid of your television. The pain is worth the gain –– so much extra time will suddenly become available to you to pursue all manner of exciting things, let alone the lack of temptation to lie around watching it constantly.
  • When switching the channel to watch the next show instead of finishing a project or a chore, just think, "Is my drive to pursue instant gratification (PIG) tricking me or do I feel the reluctance coming from my drive to avoid the "painful experience" (APE). To overcome laziness or procrastination, try watching for the PIG or the APE, and then gently go past them.


  • Everyone will become demotivated at some point, usually because of a depressing situation (like a death, a job loss, etc.) and most people come out of it within a reasonable period of time. But if the problem seems unbound and won't go away, seek professional advice to determine that you have no underlying medical condition and to receive appropriate treatment and advice.
  • If the suggestions above don't increase your activity level or elevate your low mood, feeling of being overwhelmed, or prolonged very low self esteem, then you may have a more serious case of depression. Seek medical help immediately.
  • Make sure that you are not anemic, or suffer a health condition that would sabotage your improvement plan. "Know thyself." Set realistic goals for your physical position, and then persist.

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