Being productive means something different to everyone. Personally, to me, being productive is just doing things (chores or otherwise) and not laying around the house, doing nothing. So, small things like taking a shower, brushing my hair, reading and writing, putting clothes away, or going shopping makes me feel productive because if I didn’t do those things, I’d feel too lazy.
But being productive for you may look different.
However, if you’re trying to ease into productivity, my best advice is to start off with small tasks and a reward system. When I think of bigger tasks for myself, it’s usually things like cleaning the house, reading 100 pages, shop for a full week’s worth of food, etc. But these usually drain my energy, so I try to be small with my goals. Instead of cleaning the whole house, I start with my room. Instead of reading 100 pages, I try to read 30. Instead of shopping for five or seven days of food, I decide to go after three nights worth. Then I have a reward system, which isn’t big either. Like, for cleaning and reading, I may decide to spend that time on TikTok or watching YouTube or a movie. If I’m shopping, I may buy ice cream or chocolate milk or something yummy to eat, or maybe I even decide to buy tacos for dinner instead of cooking.
Now, like you, I’m all for loving the lazy life. However, you also have to be determined enough, or disciplined, or at least have a line drawn you can’t cross, so you become forced to be productive. Like, for me, when I start doing these things, it’s because I know they won’t ever get done. Not to mention, I’ll end up fighting with my sisters over it because they don’t want to do it either. Like, they already expect me to go shopping for the week (as that is part of our agreement—my oldest sister pays the main bills and I pay for groceries). If I don’t buy groceries, we don’t have food in the house. My little sister ends up whining because she’s hangry, and my oldest sister starts yelling at me because she’s also hangry. So, there’s that line drawn that I can’t cross. I am forced to get food whether I like it or not.
Another thing I have to do that makes me feel productive is checking my car’s fluids. Once every week or two, I have to make sure my parent’s van has enough fluids because there is a coolant leak that’s never been fixed. If I don’t refill the coolant every week or so, the car won’t run. Also meaning that I won’t be able to get to work or anywhere else. But it makes me feel productive to do it when I can because I usually put it off or forget about it. It’s something I can check off my list.
That’s basically what you’re going for, too. Create a list of things that makes you feel productive. It can be a mixture of things that you need to do and things you want to do that aren’t simple chores. Like, I also find watching YouTube videos from my favorite YouTubers productive, or taking the dogs to the dog park, or watching a new movie that came out that I wanted to see (whether on a streaming service or at the theater). But you don’t just want to be like, “Oh, I have this to do, I’ll check it off the list.” Because, like you said, it may not always work. Especially if there’s too many things. You want the list to be small enough so it’s not overwhelming, but you also want to be determined enough to try to finish it.
Another thing to think about is your discipline. Most of the time, all the answers lead to that: discipline. If you don’t discipline yourself, you won’t get things done. Nothing gets done and you’re stuck at a brick wall. You need to learn how to tell yourself, “No, I’ll do it.” You need to find ways to motivate yourself each day to set and try to achieve these goals. But you also need to forgive yourself if those goals aren’t met for the day. Whenever I don’t read or write or don’t put my clothes away, I don’t beat myself up over it. I just say, “Oh, I’ll try again next weekend.” And then during the week, I plan my days out to try to force myself to get things done.
Creating discipline also comes from routine. If you do something enough for a long time, specifically at a certain time (day and or time of day), it becomes engrained in your mindset. For example, trash day. Just before my sister and I moved in together, we never had to deal with trash day because it was either our parents that dealt with it when we lived in houses/apartments, etc. or we just threw it in a dumpster at the hotel we lived at. But now that we live in a house, we have to make sure the trash is all gathered on Thursday night, put it in our small dumpster, and take it to the curb for the garbage truck to pick it up on early Friday morning. If we don’t do it, they never pick it up and then it gets piled on, and when it gets piled on, we have to pay extra for each bag. So, it’s become a routine of ours to make sure everything is all set on Thursday night before we all go to bed. It’s been once a week for the past three years, so it’s become a routine. Now, of course, there have been a few times here and there when we forget to do it. Usually it’s because we’re too busy or too exhausted from long days at work. But we typically don’t accumulate a lot of trash to overflow our small dumpster thing, so we don’t go crazy over it.
Also, having a want can help you feel a bit more productive when setting these goals. Like, when I said reading and writing makes me feel productive, that’s because the end goal is a major want for me. I want to be published one day, so I have to write, finish, and revise my story. And I want to read every book I own, so I have to try to read a little each day or whenever possible, so I can. Or, for my physical health, I want to lose weight, so I try to exercise whenever possible and try to eat healthier.
Overall, you have to look at it from the big picture: without doing such things, there’s consequences. But when doing them, there’s a little bit of success.
I mean, I’m never motivated to wake up at 7am for work. But I have to go and be productive or otherwise, I lose my job. Can’t have that because I need the money. I’m never motivated to clean, but I have to or otherwise, the house will be a mess. We’ll also track in spiders and bugs if the bathroom or kitchen isn’t cleaned. I’m never motivated to mow the lawn, but I have to or otherwise, the city will give us a letter saying that we have to or they’ll send someone to mow it for us and then we have to pay whatever price for it. I’m never motivated to do laundry or put my clothes away, but I have to or otherwise, I don’t have clean clothes for the week and my cat will pee on my dirty clothes pile and I don’t want to give him ideas.