How to Be More Productive

How to Lazy-Proof Your Day

5 Habits

Depression, for me, looks and feels like an incredibly intensified bout of laziness at times.

I know that the way I feel when I am depressed is not laziness. I know that the numbness, the lack of motivation, and the general lack of movement is a biological and cognitive predicament, not a character flaw. However, depression does inhibit me, causing resistance in even the smallest to-do list items.

So I’ve been forced to make an arsenal of morning habits that, for the lack of a better word, lazy-proof my day. I find that the way I start my day has incredible sway on the attitude and productivity level of the following hours. Here are some habits I find helpful. (Note: I sometimes totally fail to do these habits, and that’s okay. If you don’t do these things, or can’t do these things, don’t feel bad! It’s just something I try to do, when I’m able, that really helps set a positive tone for the rest of my day. Just try your best to be kind to yourself!)

 

Habit One: Make Your Bed

Make your bed every morning. I have depression, and I know that just getting out of bed (much less making it) is a huge accomplishment. But, if at all possible, I would encourage you to try. Even if company isn’t coming. Here are a few of the perks for people who make the bed:

  • They are happier than non-bed-makers, according to Psychology Today. Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Happiness Project, says that in her research, “people cite the modest ‘make your bed'” as the biggest difference in their happiness.
  • A higher percentage have jobs, stay active, and consistently feel rested.
  • They sleep better than non-bed-makers, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • They have a greater sense of accomplishment and pride.

Why is making the bed so powerful? Possibly because a more organized environment equates to a better mental state. Making the bed is a habit known as a “keystone” habit, a simple habit or routine that spills into, so to speak, later habits during the day. Making your bed may be the catalyst that causes the rest of your daily habits to flourish.

My pastor was the first person to tip me on the importance of making your bed in the morning. Making the bed, he said, is a tiny way to live out the gospel first thing in the morning.

Little things matter. William McCraven, former Navy Seal and leader of the raid on Osama Bin Laden, thinks making the bed is a crucial habit to build:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

You can watch his commencement speech here.

Habit Two: Start The Day With Your Most Challenging Task

It is in our nature to put off the most difficult or dreaded task until the very last minute – as evidenced by the many stop-procrastinating-now articles swimming around the internet. The problem with procrastination is that the most important items on our lists end up unaccomplished… until tomorrow…. or the day after that. The remedy? Knock the hardest item off of your list first things first. As Mark Twain famously said,

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

The feel-good-feels that occur after accomplishing your hardest task will motivate you right through the rest of the items on your to-do list.

Do you dread doing the dishes? Start your chores as soon as you are finished getting ready for the day. They’ll be done before you know it. 

Again, I know that this can be difficult or verging on impossible for people with intense depression, so please remember to just do the best you can and feel proud at even the smallest accomplishments!

 

Habit Three: Make a Tomorrow List

This may not work for those who have night anxiety, but it really helps me because my anxiety is worst in the morning.

The “tomorrow list”. Grab your phone or planner before you crawl in bed for the night and make a list of things that need to be done the next day.

I would recommend listing the three biggest things you would like to accomplish. If you list too many items, you may start to be limited by the bad kind of stress. Nobody needs any more bad stress!

As I mentioned, my anxiety and depression are quite intense first thing in the morning, which makes it hard for me to wander out of my fog for long enough to decide what needs to be done – much less actually do it. Making a list the night before allows me to start accomplishing tasks quickly and successfully the next day.

 

Habit Four: Add Kindness to Your To-Do List

Benjamin Franklin woke up asking himself “what good shall I do today?” This is an excellent mindset to choose in the morning and all throughout the day. It is difficult to feel down when you are creating colorful schemes to bring joy to others.

Depression is, by nature, a selfish illness. It causes normally outpouring, lively individuals to feel limp, numb, and isolated. Fight the illness with a dose of kindness; finding something “good” to do will lace your day with a brighter outlook. It helps me a lot.

 

Habit Five: Wake up, Dress up, Show up

I have a hard time in the mornings. I am not a morning person to begin with, and then my mental state is also kind of a mess in the morning. It’s really hard, but I find that if I can start my day by taking care of myself, it really helps me stay healthy.

Don’t sleep in too much. Shower. Wash your face. Brush your teeth. Put on an outfit that makes you happy. Get moving. The movement will help you push past whatever may be weighing you down.

I know how difficult this can be, particularly if you are struggling with mental illness, general fatigue, or a physical ailment. It’s important not to beat yourself up if you can’t follow the “wake up, dress up, show up” rule on some days. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. However, I find that taking care of myself in this way is good medicine. You may be surprised by how refreshed and positive you feel after an action as simple as changing clothes.

 

Try picking up one or two of these habits to “lazy-proof” your day and overcome procrastination, despondency, and depression – one little moment at a time. Even if you can’t do it every day, do it when you can. Hope it helps you (:

 

Andie

 

 

 

 

 

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61 responses

  1. I love how you keep coming back to kindness. I need the daily reminder. I always forget. It’s not that I am not a nice person. It’s just that I am busy and don’t have much spare time. Thanks to your blog, I am following through on doing special little things for other people. Not just thinking about it. Your blog has and is propelling me to action. Kindness action. Keep up the good work.

  2. I love this! i am making a habit of making my bed now, I didn’t for a long time. It feels so good, when i go in to my bedroom to see my pretty bed! The to do list, and making sure you think of kindness are also great reminders. Getting dressed and taking care of yourself is so important. I do need to work on that. One thing I used to do is set out my clothes I am going to wear the night before. Then I am all set to shower and get going in the morning, without standing in the closet, half asleep and staring at my hangers of clothes. I found you on Mama moments link up and I will pin this and like your facebook for sure! And your newsletter, of course!

  3. All of these are great ideas…and really, a few extra steps/minutes can make all the difference in the world. I’m going to start making my bed and making the tomorrow list immediately! Thanks for sharing at Tweak it Tuesday.

  4. I have been making a sort of “tomorrow list” for about a month now. It helps immensely for the next morning! My list typically is about 3 to-dos for first thing in the morning.

    The other 4 tips are great also. I have seen many lists similar and they never have #4 on it. LOVE it. What a great focus for the day if adding kindness is on our to-do list.

    I love the term lazy-proof. :)

  5. Lovely list. I struggle with depression especially in the winter months. Making my bed is sometimes my only accomplishment for the day and it makes me feel good. Having an organized space is so soothing. I’m going to add doing something kind to my list. I never thought of scheduling kindness but it makes perfect sense. #youregonnaloveittuesday

    1. I’m so glad you were able to glean some tips from this post, Yanique! Depression is so much harder when it is cold out and the sun isn’t shining. I agree that an organized space is soothing! Have fun with your kindness challenge! (:

  6. I realized recently that I can judge my mental state by the state of my bedroom. When I’m feeling good, the bed is made and the room is tidy. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s the room I ignore because no one sees it but me. I’ve been doing my best lately to flip that around and take care of the bedroom first, as a little way of taking care of ME first when life gets crazy. Thanks for the kind reminder!

  7. My favorite part of this post is “Making the bed, he said, is a tiny way to live out the gospel first thing in the morning.”
    That is the kind of statement that will linger an motivate me for years! I will also share this with my children. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. I’m definitely in need of this at the moment, thanks for sharing, I really need to work on getting my most challenging task done first as I usually leave it till last.

    Kathryn
    nimblenote.blogspot.com

  9. This is a great list. I stink at making my bed. Always have. I bet if I did make it first thing, I would feel better, like you say. Very interesting studies you mentioned about that.

  10. Great ideas. I struggle with staying productive due to fatigue from Fibromyalgia and it’s always worse in the winter. I’m trying to stay motivated. I have noticed when I get the worst part of the day over with first, it really does help!

  11. I need to lazy proof days! The hardest thing for me I think is getting up and getting dressed. I am a stay at home mommy of a 21 month old and with it being so cold out we don’t get out much. My yoga pants and sweatpants need a break! I didn’t realize that not getting dressed can be effecting my motivation. Thanks for the inspiration! Love this post ! Pinned it! So happy that I clicked this over at Show and Tell Friday!
    Gina from Always Savory

  12. I have been looking for something on overcoming laziness and how depression plays into it (or visa versa) and your first sentence hooked me! Thank you for sharing all of these tips! I’m already a bed maker and I love your “tomorrow list” and will try it…tomorrow! Depression is awful and just when I start feeling good-blammo!! – winter, ugh. I pray for peace that passes all understanding for all of us that live, not suffer, with it!

  13. I love this! These tips are very helpful and I will definitely try my hardest to put them all into action during my day. Being home schooled and having all the distractions of today’s world can, very easily, combine for a very lazy day in which I don’t get anything done. Thank you for these tips! : )

  14. Thanks for linking up to Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned this to our board. Sorry it is late but some one scratched this off my todo list (other than me). Funny how that happens. But kindness is a huge one :) I find it helps me stay focused more. :)

  15. No one will ever convince me that bed making is anything but a gigantic waste of time. Totally false correlation there! The people who are all those other things, are bed-making types. Making your bed isn’t going to change your personality. Three and four, I love! 5 is totally overrated for a stay-at-home mom. Who wants to scrub toilets and wipe up pee dressed and made up. I avoid the yucky stuff on days I take the time to get out of house clothes.

    1. Hi Crystal! Thanks so much for visiting (:
      I base my advice on research and personal experience; making the bed works great to change the way I start my day and perceive the day. I’ve noticed a big difference! However, if making the bed isn’t your thing then, certainly, don’t bother!
      I definitely agree that number five can be so hard to accomplish as a mom! Kids can ruin a pretty outfit very, very quickly – for sure. I find, though, that (when at all possible) taking care of myself and looking my best (whatever that means realistically speaking) makes a huge difference in how I feel and handle the day ahead of me. It’s helped me a lot!
      Thanks again for visiting!

      1. Sometimes just putting some makeup and doing your hair while still in your yoga pants will give you a boost! Thanks for the tips!

  16. I like that “most challenging” task idea. I frequently paralyse myself with doing an infinite number of trivial things first. And I realise a flaw in my “to do tomorrow” list is that it was way too big. This article has prompted me to change my system to include the most important thing plus only two others. Let’s see how it goes.

    One thing I might add is perhaps don’t write the tomorrow list as last thing before going to bed, because that can activate all sorts of late night worries or problem-solving ideas – not what you want when trying to fall asleep. Instead, I’ve been doing a simple exercise in gratitude (which as you hint to there in the “kindness” bit, will boost your happiness): I write a list of 3 things I’m grateful for, however small they may be, as the very last thing before going to bed. It’s puts me in a good mood to sleep. When I wake up I read what I’d listed, and it gives me a smile with which to start my day.

  17. I think I should pick up all these habits. I seriously need that. I agree about the bed part. In the last apartment I lived in, I used to make my bed as soon as I woke up but since the time I shifted in a newer apartment, I don’t do that and that explains why my days start so badly in this new place.
    Also, getting dressed up thing is so important and I need someone to remind me of that every once in a while. It is important to take care of yourself to make your body feel good and work more.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  18. All of these make sense, but not for someone who is a night owl and enjoys sleeping in. Like I said, this is a great post, but most people who sleep in, they sleep until 10:00-10:30 then get up and hurry to get dressed and get where they need to be in about 30-45 minutes. Sleeping in is a very difficult habit to break, and that’s coming from someone who has tried to break it several times over the last couple of years.

    1. I definitely understand wanting to sleep in! I used to have a very difficult time breaking that habit, myself! Slowly learning to wake up a little earlier has definitely helped me, personally. Everyone is different, of course!

  19. I needed this soooooooo badly!
    My number one problem is being lazy. Its so hard to get out of bed sometimes when the tv is calling my name or I get caught up checking emails from my phone. Forcing myself to de-lazify first thing in the morning will completely change my day each day! Showering doesn’t hurt either. haha.

    Definitely saving this for when I need a good reminder to get out of bed and get stuff done!

  20. Wow thank you! This is one of those articles that really connects perfectly with me. Simple yet so impactful. I started making my bed in the mornings recently before I even read this, and now that I read the benefits here, I realized how true they are. Love the quotes too. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THIS POST.

  21. I just found you today in fb. I fight depression every day. I am going to try all of your suggestions and I am going to find your blog and follow.

  22. I am not quite sure how anyone with actual depression finds this list helpful. If you are just in a funk, or have been letting yourself fall into some bad habits, sure. But anyone with actual depression will only feel even worse about themselves when they read this list. I’d really like to know where your research came from.

    1. Hey there, Fevrier! First of all, thank you for taking the time to comment. Getting constructive criticism is important to me! I definitely don’t intend this to be a list of things to beat yourself up about if you are unable to accomplish them. I just find that they help me, personally, and I wanted to share in case they help someone else too! After reading your comment, I actually made some edits to clarify my intentions (: Thank you!

  23. I really like this…my name is Marissa Mayer, I’m 16 and I struggle with depression and anxiety. I know exactly how hard it can be to accomplish the day sometimes. Was wondering if you’ll check out my blog: Depressed But Blessed. It would mean the world to me! Thanks!

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