“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
~John Lubbock, The Use Of Life~
Most of us have “those days”, the ones where we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Our home is in chaos and clutter around us or our work tasks are piling up and we feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed. In that moment, we often don’t have any motivation to make progress so that things can feel better. Instead we go and do something mindless or a chore that feels less scary than tackling the job. By the time we emerge from our numbing, we can feel pretty guilty about the avoidance and it can affect us a lot emotionally, as well as mentally. Sometimes I have even called myself names, the main one being “lazy”. After all, what else could it be, not being able to get up and just do something we need to do? Well, it turns out it could be a lot of things, but here are the main three. Instead of going on autopilot, I invite you to pause and think about if any of these things are part of your life.
We need to have something that we care about strongly, whether it’s our job or something extracurricular. Passion is an important factor when it comes to motivation and drive, which is one of the things that creates momentum. Without passion, it’s hard for us to want to get up and do things. John Maxwell holds to the belief that instead of there being low energy and high energy people, there are those who have passion and those who lack passion. He believes it’s one of the most important items to succeeding in a career or endeavor.
Often we put off things we need to do, because we don’t think that we can do it well enough or we feel intimidated. We feel too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project. So we clean the kitchen or do a house project instead of starting a draft. Or we do research ad nauseum, feeling we need to do more before really starting. Sometimes people who are doing these things we don’t consider lazy because they look busy and are doing good things, but they are still avoiding doing the most important things.
Related to the procrastination, often we turn to other things as a distraction and to numb our guilt or Whether it’s TV, a hobby, playing video or phone games for hours, sleeping more than usual—it could be almost anything—we do anything other than the task we need to do that’s looming in front of us. Sometimes we even lose track of time, because the last thing we want is to be reminded of how many hours are passing as we push what we should be doing to the back of our minds.
There is a big difference between taking a conscious and intentional “break” and escaping for as long we can from the work in front of us. And if we habitually/constantly try to get away from the work of our career, we have to take a close look and ask ourselves if we should be doing something else instead, something that inspires us, something that we have a passion for. Of course there will always be elements of work that we like less than others or days we would rather not push through, but if we are experiencing a chronic aversion, that is something to consider.
Sometimes we have to stop and think if our priorities are in the right order. For example, of course, we have to keep doing housework, but can our day be structured in such a way to get those things out of the way quickly, instead of it taking up half a day and keeping us from important work? Especially if your work is something that you can get excited about, don’t cheat yourself out of having a good experience with it.
Finally, remember that the way you structure your day can help you minimize distractions. By making time to pause and rest instead of having the notifications or emails making you look away from your work, you can actually enjoy those moments without guilt. That way, they are not distractions at all but much-needed rest.