On days when you don’t feel like it

My past few days have been cripplingly demotivating. Our progress with goalsquad is slowing a bit. The initial exciting phase of ideation where we draw trajectories upward on the whiteboard is now being met with the reality that upward trajectories take a lot of work, a lot of testing, and many struggles.

How today went

Today was slow. I didn’t do much. Played a lot of chess games and worked out in the morning. Then just alternated between chess games and youtube videos on how mala hotpot is made, which led to the youtube black hole of endless video suggestions and me watching them.

What then?

As I ponder on Jocko Willink’s video, where he was asked, “how do you work on days where you don’t feel like working.” And he answered, “ahh, those days. Those days, he just works anyways.” On my first listening, I thought that was the most perplexing answer of all time. Then again, I realized the question was inherently perplexing. Frankly, we don’t ever feel like working. The moment I sit in front of my laptop, my finger automatically scrolls to Reddit, which leads to youtube and Facebook, and on and on and on. It feels like half the day is gone, and I might as well write-off the day and just relax, right?

When do we feel like working?

On the contrary, I’m sure we had those days when work feels smooth and good. We felt like we put in a good day of work; when we go to bed, we wanted to pat ourselves on the back. A smile on our faces as we tiredly close our eyes. Think about it, why were those days productive? It was because we started off by doing something that got the “work-ball” rolling. Either because we had a commitment early in the morning, or we ‘felt good’ that morning and tidied our bed, or we got working the moment we sat down, with minimal distractions.

The difference

Compare the two different days above. The only difference on the good days, we did productive things that made us do more. Whereas on lazy days, we did distracting actions that made us procrastinated more. The cure to inaction is action. Jocko was right. On days where we don’t feel like doing anything, all the more reason we should do things.

Caveat

This isn’t the panacea. Frankly, this might be crappy advice. But give it a try. On days when you don’t feel like it, maybe clean the table, just type some things on keybr, write a piece, or clean your todolist. Low effort, low reward tasks might enable us to summon the energy we so desire. After all, what’s there to lose?