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How to Work When You Just Don't Feel Like It

The tendency to procrastinate is one of those mysteries of human nature: why put things off, when we know perfectly well that we'll have to do them eventually? Often, it's because we "just don't feel like it." But learning to do things when you don't feel like it is an essential part of being a successful, productive person -- and it's easier than you think.

procrastination 

(Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr)

At Harvard Business Review's Blog Network, Heidi Grant Halvorson looks at several reasons people don't do what they need to do, and offers strategies for overcoming them. About the "just don't feel like it" problem, she says, "Make like Spock and ignore your feelings. They're getting in your way."

"Somewhere along the way, we've all bought into the idea -- without consciously realizing it -- that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action," writes Halvorson. "We need to be eager to do so. I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100 percent nonsense. Yes, on some level you need to be committed to what you are doing -- you need to want to see the project finished, or get healthier, or get an earlier start to your day. But you don't need to feel like doing it."

In fact, Halvorson points out, some of the most successful creative people -- artists, writers, musicians -- are successful because they show up to work when they don't feel like it.

To get over this particular motivational problem, take a few steps:

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule.

Whether you're trying to hit your deadlines earlier, or go to the gym more often, having a schedule will remind you to go about your activities in a businesslike way. Don't wait for inspiration to strike; plan on doing, even without it.

2. Ignore your feelings.

Halvorson's biggest point bears repeating: it doesn't matter whether you're excited about tackling the project. It only matters that you do it.

3. Remember that the barriers are all in your mind.

Don't construct imaginary obstacles. Know that feeling meh about a task isn't the same as not being able to do it.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your tricks to prevent yourself from procrastinating? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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