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!) How to Be More Productive  

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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103 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!

      1. Hi Andie
        I fully understand your morning struggles. What wirks best for me is to get up, grab a glass of water and drink it outside, summer or winter. Then continue the day as suggested by you!

  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.


  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!

    2. I used to think the same thing, Crystal….until I started making my bed! It truly does make me feel good! It gives me a sense of accomplishment, makes my room look nice and prevents me from crawling back into bed. On the days I don’t make my bed, things feel ‘off’. Of course, if you don’t like your room to look nice then you’re going to think its a waste of time

  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!

    2. I am never up before 10 and that has nothing to do with getting these steps finished! I don’t get up in a hurry as I leave myself enough time to get ready. Even night owls can follow this advice, the time you get out of bed is irrelevant

  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!

    2. I totally disagree! When a person is depressed, having a routine is critical. Being lazy will only make you feel worse about yourself. When I’m in the worst of depression, I don’t WANT to do anything but I know I NEED to. This article serves as an excellent guideline on how a depressed person can feel better. Who said anything about research? Why does a blog post need to be backed by scientific studies in order to be valid? Personal experience is much, much better than science! Perhaps you need antidepressants!

  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!

  24. Those are good tips! I totally understand that feeling and the best thing you can do to beat it off is to plan your day.

  25. Hello. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the simplicity of this post. I’m already doing a few of these regularly but never realised the impact they were having on keeping my day productive and positive. I also love your writing style. Tfs! 🙂

  26. I usually have no problems during the week because of having to get up for work, but I could use this on the weekend. Lately on the weekend if I don’t have plans I stay in bed until noon and waste the morning I’ll give theses a try. I rarely make my bed, I may have to start. I already started a gratitude journal and love it!

  27. I’m sorry for my bad english. I hope I can make me understand. I know this feel of impotence and that you can do anything in the day because of depression. I found this blog today because is one of this days for me. But most important thing is not surrender at least without fighting. It’s summer, it’s my free day of work and I really will try to enjoy it. And if I can’t do a thing, well, no problem, erase it of my mind and go to the next. It’s a hard way of life, but it’s the life I have to live and it’s not really so bad if I work about it.

    Good look! You are doing a very good job with your blog

  28. Just came across this pin this morning, as I was procrastinating getting out of bed. It is just what I needed! I struggle with depression, and health issues are making it worse. Thank you for the encouragement!

  29. I have struggled for 50+ years with depression- effectively most of the time. These are excellent day starters.

    One of the things that has helped me is a list of my early symptoms of increaing depression & what to do. It is posted in my bathroom. I don’t really need to read it. It serves as a reminder to pay attention to how I’m feeling. I also recommend writing down one’s feelings every day. Awareness begins the healing process.

    I also have written ways to turn a dark-cloud-feeling day around through using my “Pity Party Bashers.”

    Lastly, to those of you who have made negative responses, it is the concept that counts, which is to be active in a positive way. Making the bed doesn’t change you. But you have to get out of it first. For someone, with depression, that can be a BIG step.

    Just like we feel better when we get our hair done or a manicure or a new outfit, Andie’s suggestions are like warm fuzzies.

    1. Constance and Andie,
      I so appreciate this site. Warm fuzzes is what i’m getting as i read the comments. I’ve suffered for over 50 years with depression and this making your bed and getting dressed IS a BIG deal for me. Thank you for sharing and your time 💚

  30. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to read this article when I saw the word lazy. I too suffer from depression bipolar anxiety and I thought there’s days when I’m not lazy I just can’t so I read some of the comments first and I said oh I’m going to read the article and I’m very glad I did it’s a very wonderful night didn’t make me feel bad I think you very much

    1. I”m glad it didn’t make you feel bad, Brenda! I 100% believe depression is an illness. It is NOT being lazy. It sometimes looks like and feels like laziness, which is the difficult part. Thank you so much for commenting (:

  31. Great post. It always seems to start with making the bed, doesn’t it? I guess since the evidence is so overwhelming, I better start doing it again. It does make me less likely to crawl back in rather than face the day!

  32. Think you for your lovely post. I rarely reply but was moved to scroll to the bottom of your replies to see if you were still getting feedback. When I noticed the last reply was 6 months ago, I thought you might like to feel some more love. Sorry to read about your having to deal with depression. Initially I thought to comment about a good breakfast to start the day before brushing our teeth, as physical stamina and moving about can help boost our start. I figured you knew this and had just missed writing it, so I’m here to simply pass on love and support, and hope your journey is improving, and thank you again for your post. Ps I like the way you can still get feedback and replies years after a good post, a concept I’m new to with pinterest. Rae

  33. Thank-you for this post. It really validated my depression to me. Its so much more than just feeling sad or down on myself. I thought the laziness was just more of me being useless but now I can realize that it’s a symptom of my depression and it isn’t who I AM.

  34. Wow! This is so helpful! My parents always had my brothers and sister’s and me make our beds every day when we were growing up, so it’s super ingrained in me! Thanks, Mama and Papa! BUT! I struggle with getting dressed, putting on makeup, (but when I do I feel great)! And I also put off til the last minute the hardest projects; the “eating a frog”, the great way Mark Twain puts it! Boy, he was funny and brilliant! Thank you so much for this! So helpful and inspiring! I’m going to do better!

    1. Jessica, I find YOU inspiring! I don’t think you need to feel pressure to “do better”, but there is always room to try and make small healthy choices for improved self care. I really appreciate that you’ve reached out to comment – I seriously love reading and replying to all of the comments I get here.

  35. I know what depression feels like. i have gone through it everyday while being a stay at home mom after leaving my corportae full time, but with time everythign becomes fine if you fight with it every single day.

  36. I really loved this post. It was so simple and heart felt. I struggle with anxiety and it’s always great to see posts on the web that deal with emotional aspect of being successful…instead of a top 10 list of ultra complicated business jabber. Often I know what needs to be done and how to do it; it’s just motivated myself in a positive way and getting me out of my funk that’s difficult. Really looking forward to reading more of your blog! <3

    1. Destiny, this was so encouraging. I try to stay away from ultra complicated business jabber these days. My goals is to be honest in my writing. Thank you for commenting!

  37. Andie: last year I was diagnosed, severe depression and anxiety. After 4 weeks of intensive therapy I had a tool box filled with ways to fight a recurrence. However, last night all returned with a vengeance! I thought myself heading for another breakdown. I woke today feeling better.

    This afternoon I happened across your post of a few years past. PLEASE know it felt as if you threw a safety flotation ring directly to me.

    Although I mentioned feeling better this morning, your words provided a wonderful sense of HOPE again. So not chance overwhelming myself, I will implement one suggestion at a time and allow myself to continue healing again.

    I am grateful!

    1. Joe, you are such an encouragement to me. I believe we all have a special calling to be a place of safety for one another, especially with something like mental illness – a topic infrequently discussed in an honest light. Thank you for reaching out!

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