A few months ago, I noticed that friend of mine with depression had a photocopied excerpt of the book Get It Done When You’re Depressed, by Julie Fast, on her refrigerator. I was so impressed with that excerpt that I bought and read the book and then interviewed Fast for the Renegade Writer blog.
One of the points that stuck with me most is that you can’t wait to feel motivated or inspired before you do something because if you’re depressed, you’ll never feel motivated. You’ll just wait and wait to feel that spark of inspiration, and it won’t happen.
The trick is to push through and do the task anyway, even if you don’t feel like it. Motivation doesn’t create action — action creates motivation. Once you’re doing the task, you’ll often feel compelled to keep going and do even more. This tip works whether you’re clinically depressed or you’re just feeling lazy and unmotivated.
One way to get yourself started — which is the hardest part, really — is to set a timer for 10 minutes and promise yourself that if you feel like stopping when the timer goes off, you can. Usually, once you get past the stuckness of just trying to get moving, you’ll create a momentum that keeps you going. For example, some days I don’t feel particularly inspired to exercise in the morning, but I tell myself that all I have to do is get out the door — and if I don’t feel like exercising then, I can go back inside. If I can just get myself out the door, that’s the hardest part. Once I’ve hit the road, I always feel a lot better, and I feel great when I’m done.
Remember, when you exercise, prepare a healthy meal, knock a task off your to-do list, or get your work done, you’ll never say to yourself, “Boy, I wish I hadn’t accomplished that.” But if you don’t do it, you will beat yourself up later.