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How to Get Motivated When You Have No Energy

We all have off days. Off days are when you feel like you don’t have the energy to do anything. They can happen for all sorts of reasons. You may not have slept well the night before, or you’re dealing with a particularly long day.

Sometimes, off days happen for no reason. All you know is that your energy level is close to nil, and you are not motivated.

However, you still have stuff to do. That means you need to know how to become motivated when you have no energy. The techniques shared in this article give you a much-needed boost to your drive, allowing you to keep pushing toward your goals.

Techniques for How to Get Motivated When You Have No Energy

Each of the techniques shared here will help you get started on whatever project you have. Some are mental techniques designed to rewire how your brain works. Others help refresh your body and soul, leaving you feeling refreshed enough to take on the day. All can help when fatigue claws away at your motivation level.

1. Turn Away From Pointless Tasks

With your deadline looming, you feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Worse yet, your lack of energy means you’re unfocused and can’t motivate yourself to do anything significant.

So, you focus on small tasks. After all, at least you’re doing something.

While that may be the case, research from award-winning psychologist Dr. John Bargh states that this is a trick your brain plays on you.

When faced with a large project, your brain tries to simulate productive work by making you focus on small tasks. There’s a certain logic here. Big projects get broken down into smaller tasks, meaning completing a small task can bring you closer to your goal.

The problem is that many of the small tasks your brain tricks you into doing are meaningless. They don’t serve your goal, making them the functional equivalent of procrastination.

Instead of allowing yourself to get distracted by the little things, just get started on the big thing. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you work toward your goal. By doing this, you activate a phenomenon called the Zeigarnik effect. This effect states that humans tend to experience more thoughts about work they’ve started but have left incomplete.

It’s a trick to help you overcome your brain’s small tasks trick.

By just getting started, you force your brain to focus on the task you need to complete. Even when you have no energy, the focus pushes you to make progress, leading to a more productive mental state.

2. Take Daily Walks

Being sedentary in the body leads to sedation of the mind.

Anybody who’s worked long hours in an office can tell you this. You spend hours sitting in front of a computer, making you feel mentally exhausted by the time you get home.

Even though you just finished working in an office, compared to performing manual labor, you don’t do anything productive at home due to mental fatigue. Thus, you stay sedentary, creating a cycle that leads to a lack of motivation.

The human body isn’t designed to stay sedentary. It needs movement because moving creates energy.

With that in mind, dedicate 30 minutes per day to walking. This walk could be a brisk stroll in the morning that increases your energy levels before you go to work. It could be a walk with a colleague halfway through the day. You can even fit your 30 minutes in immediately after returning from work, giving you the energy boost you need to enjoy a productive evening.

The key is to get moving.

With this light and simple activity, you get a much-needed energy boost that almost acts like pressing the reset button after being sedentary for most of the day.

3. Break Tasks Down Into Smaller Steps

We’ve already spoken about the trick your brain plays on you when it comes to small tasks. With a big project looming, your brain simulates productivity by having you focus on small, mindless things.

You can turn that trick around on your brain by breaking your large task into smaller steps. Doing that will unlock a new way to get motivated when you have no energy.

Imagine you’re building a house. That’s an overwhelming project, and you may struggle to visualize how to get from empty ground to a completed home. Breaking that project down into smaller steps, such as creating a blueprint, building the foundation, and so on, gives you a plan of action on which to focus.

You get two benefits from this technique. Firstly, you’re feeding your brain’s desire to focus on small tasks in the face of big, energy-draining projects. Secondly, you’re actively breaking a large product into productive steps that move you closer to your goal.

The science backs this technique.

In 1981, a pair of researchers named Dale Schunk and Albert Bandura gathered two groups of kids. The first group received instructions to complete a 42-page math book over seven daily sessions. The researchers told the second group to finish six pages of math problems per session. A subtle change in instructions had a massive effect on the children’s motivation levels.

The first group struggled with procrastination and took far longer to complete their math work. Not only did the second group work much faster, but they also achieved the correct answers 40% more frequently than the first group.

Breaking large projects into small steps works as long as each step serves the project. Better yet, you’ll work faster and harder toward completing your small steps because you’re not struggling with the feelings of exhaustion that being overwhelmed creates.

4. Make Your Bed and Get Dressed

Sometimes, even the simple act of starting the day can feel too draining. You wake up feeling exhausted and figure you’re already in bed. Maybe you can stay there a bit longer, and your energy levels will increase.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Instead, you find it harder to get out of bed the longer you stay wrapped up in the sheets. If you have work to do, you either procrastinate or rush around, which feeds into an energy-less state.

Rather than lazing around in bed, get up and do simple things that get you ready in the morning. Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Get changed out of your pajamas. Eat some breakfast. Each of these simple actions adds to a morning routine that prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead.

That’s not all.

You’re also achieving small daily goals by completing these small actions. That gives you a motivation boost because you start your day feeling productive. You then carry that abundant energy forward.

How to Get Motivated When You Have No Energy

5. Use the Power of Accountability

If you’re only accountable to yourself, it’s easy to lose motivation when you have no energy. You can make justifications to yourself about why you’re not pushing forward. If you’ve found yourself saying something like, “I’ll rest today and start tomorrow,” you know these justifications lead to procrastination.

So, how does accountability play a role when you’re trying to figure out how to get motivated when you have no energy?

Go public with what you want to do.

Post on social media, telling others about your goals for the day. You can even commit to tracking your progress on your socials. Not only does this public commitment encourage you to work harder, but it lets you reap the benefits of the positive comments that come from those supporting your journey.

If social media isn’t your thing, there are many other ways to go public with accountability.

For example, many people go to the gym with a partner. Though there’s often a social aspect to this decision, having a partner at the gym means you have somebody to motivate you when you’re struggling to push through. It also means you form a commitment to that partner, making it harder for you to create justifications for why you shouldn’t do something.

Science backs this technique too.

A psychology professor named Dr. Gala Matthews studied the effects of public accountability on goal achievement. She discovered that only 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves achieved them. By comparison, over 70% of those who sent weekly updates to a friend completed their goal or were halfway there.

When you feel like you have no energy, lean on the strength others provide to boost your motivation.

6. Take a Break

Sometimes, getting started isn’t the problem. You begin your task feeling energized and motivated. The problem arises partway through when you’ve pushed as hard as you can and still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In these cases, trying to push yourself even harder is counterproductive.

You may resent your work, leading to lower energy levels and less motivation. As a result, you may struggle to stay focused or give up on the task.

The solution is to take a break.

This break doesn’t mean slumping down in front of the TV and switching your brain off entirely. Instead, do something that raises your energy level again. Excellent options include:

  • Power naps
  • A brisk stroll
  • Coffee with a friend
  • A relaxing dinner
  • Visiting a spa

These activities stimulate you mentally and physically. As such, they boost your energy levels while allowing you to take a break from your task.

You may return to work with a new perspective after taking your break. Even if you don’t, you’ll feel more relaxed, less stressed, and have the energy to start pushing again.

7. Feed Your Brain With Positive Thoughts

Your brain digests whatever information you feed it.

Think about the types of activities that leave you feeling drained. Speaking to people who are constantly negative feeds your mind with thoughts that sap your energy. Watching upsetting news coverage or browsing social media can lead to negative thoughts that lower motivation levels.

You can overcome a negative mental diet with positivity.

Write positive affirmations and read them every morning. Consume uplifting literature and surround yourself with those who support your goals and want you to succeed.

By creating a more positive environment around yourself, you start an enriching mental diet that feeds your brain with the “nutrients” it needs to stay motivated even when your energy levels dip.

Focus on the Mental and Physical to Get Motivated

Motivation is a tricky thing.

Motivating yourself is often challenging when you’re tired or don’t have energy. Overcoming this challenge usually requires that you change something about your life. This change can be simple, such as committing to taking a refreshing walk every day.

Alternatively, it may be a significant life change, such as moving away from a negative friend group to spend more time with positive people.

With the techniques in this article, you’re equipped with some ideas for getting motivated when you have no energy. Try them all to see which works best for you.


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