How do I save my weekend from my SLOTH?
December 7, 2015 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Every Monday to Thursday, I imagine going home on Friday, getting a good nights' rest, and waking up on Saturday and Sunday to do fun new activities. After all, I'm 23, healthy, fit, love food, love trying new things and am an extrovert. Without a fail, every single weekend looks like this instead: me hanging out in my squalid apartment, eating eggs and pasta, watching the clock, not doing any chores, watching stupid shit on YouTube and hating myself profusely.

It's now Monday evening. I rarely ever take a sick day, but because I used up my whole weekend on nonsense activities like what I mentioned above, I needed to take the day off today to try and "Catch up"...for example, leaving my house to do groceries, grab a coffee, pay my rent, do laundry, perhaps do dishes... yet again, I found myself awake, making coffee and excuses, sitting around watching the hours go by, finding it excruciatingly hard to go and DO anything.

Now...I've been like this all my life, and it means I loathe how lazy I am, I am robbing myself of skills, and its feeding into all my self esteem issues. I have too much time on my hands and I start being a gross girl instead of the young blossoming woman I want to be: learning to cook, meeting new people outside of bars, learning new things in general. Living life.

At work and where there's structure and expectations, I'm a bit better. I work hard, mostly. But anywhere outside of work, where it's only me to impress...I'm the worst. I'm the most lethargic procastinator I know. It's painful.

I know I've asked questions like this, but its 7 pm on Monday, I've lost a whole day of the week due to my laziness, and I have a lot of shit to do: a pile full of dishes, laundry, stuff idea where to start and how to make myself feel less guilty for being such a time wasting idiot.

What should I do? Are any of you like this, slothful for no reason? Are you addicted to sitting around watching shows? How in the world do I break this habit for once and for all, if I've always beeen this way?
posted by rhythm_queen to Human Relations (43 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
First, get screened for depression.

Second, go google Flylady. She is the absolute best-and you don't have to follow her entire program, you can just pick up tips and ideas-for example, setting a timer for 15 minutes and doing a room pick up, etc for example.

Third, quit beating yourself up. You can do this!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

Get an app like Habitica, ToDoIst, or my personal favorite, Productive. I'm always wasting time on my phone anyway. Checking things off a virtual list with charts and graphs is so weirdly game-like and satisfying that it motivates me.
posted by quincunx at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Maybe make a list? Make it 1-3 things for the whole weekend. For example:

-grocery shop
-1load of laundry

If you accomplish those things: successful weekend. Stop beating yourself up.

If you accomplish those things and still have energy, try adding a few more things to the list:

-work out
-Go to meetup

If not, no worries. You're a success.

Also try to get into a class, club or fitness regimen that involves other people.
posted by slateyness at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you need external motivators to get going. Is there a weekend class or volunteer activity that you would enjoy? If you're someone who tends to operate on an "inertial" basis, even just getting up and out for an hour or so on Saturday and/or Sunday could "jump start" your motivation and help you avoid the sloth cycle.

Another thing - you describe your apartment as "squalid", and I know it's super hard to get motivated when there's clutter and grime everywhere you look. Maybe try telling yourself you will clean/tidy one corner of a room every Saturday to start with? Or something similar that breaks the task into less overwhelming chunks.

Finally - perhaps get screened for ADHD. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but between this and some of your other questions you sound like a ton of people I've known who have ended up with that DX. Especially women, and especially women who keep getting told they are either depressed or anxious but haven't responded well to treatment for either.
posted by aecorwin at 4:56 PM on December 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Have you considered taking an assessment for depression?

Some people recommend Unfuck Your Habitat (website and app), and I can't speak to it personally but check it out. I used the way hokier, religiousy (I'm an atheist), SAHM (I'm a DINK), homeschooly Flylady and I still recommend it routinely because that's all wrapped in a huge blanket of empathy and understanding about how badly shame ties your hands from even trying to start.

Yes, you are absolutely me at 23 and 33, when I got married and started getting sick of my crap (and my husband got treated for ADHD). Now at 43, our house is not eat-off-the-floors clean but we can be decent for company in less than an hour on most days.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:58 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Leave the house - in all seriousness, this is like 90% of the battle. Just get up, get dressed, and use all the energy and willpower you can muster to LEAVE THE HOUSE. You can do it.

Scribble down some places or events that you want to check out over the course of the week and, once you hit the street, just mindlessly head in the direction one of them. Do this successfully a few times, and the spell of wallowing in squalor in your underwear will begin, slowly, to break.

I say this as an introvert, homebody, and lifelong weaver of elaborate, self-defeating excuses - a vast majority of the battle is just deciding "I'm going to do this" and then just SHUTTING OFF YOUR BRAIN. Don't think about it, don't talk about it - just do it.

Because just doing crap has a surprisingly tonic, invigorating quality. Once you've done some stuff that actually is way more life-affirming and stimulating that the seemingly-interesting, seemingly-comforting wallowing in squalor in your underwear, you will very likely start to crave more - I did, anyway. Again, I offer you this as someone has, at times, has been a near shut-in after business hours.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:04 PM on December 7, 2015 [69 favorites]

Turn off the computer.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:08 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I understand what you're dealing with. I think that I look ahead on Thursday and think wow! so much free time ahead! and get overwhelmed. This might be a cop-out but one thing that has kind of helped me is giving myself one day of the two to be a sloth person. If I let myself roll around lazy on Saturday but still do stuff Sunday, I feel like that's a partial victory. I still kick myself a little Sunday evening but not as much as I did previously.
posted by kat518 at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2015

I feel like you've asked basically the same question a couple of times over the past year or so.

You need to act, whether it be tackling depression/ADHD or actually performing the tasks that you know you need to do, even if every fiber of your being is screaming at you to sit down and watch another YouTube video. People have given you practical suggestions on how to do housework and organize a cleaning schedule. I also commute 3hrs a day for work, and I know its tough, really tough. My weekends are filled with catch-up chores and very little downtime. But I know that my downtime is quality downtime because I got all my cooking/cleaning done on the weekend. It also leaves me time to meet up with friends after work and just chill out once I get home, minus a few odd dishes that need to be done and a quick wipe-down of the kitchen counters. You can do it, you just need to force yourself to act.
posted by extramundane at 5:19 PM on December 7, 2015

Look, let's be honest. Work fucking sucks. It is boring and often meaningless. Further, it leaves most of us feeling powerless and resentful as others pull strings and we are expected to carry out their crazy directives on absurd timelines.

But it's not just whatever job we're in: we have to work, because we literally cannot eat, sleep, or clothe ourselves without working. Hence, most of our creative and motivational energy is sucked up in this endless, mostly meaningless, and ultimately grim hamster wheel of survival, and all you have left is the energy to carry out simple tasks that provide short-term comfort: looking at Facebook, eating pasta, whatever triggers a tiny spurt of good brain chemicals in that moment.

Why do I bring this up? Not to depress you, but to excuse you. While it's possible you have depression or ADD, it's also equally or perhaps more possible that you are having a totally normal reaction to a fucked up set of social and economic factors far beyond your control. You are having a sane reaction to an insane situation.

The only real solution is for all of us to organize to change society into something sane. But in the meantime, maybe think about if there is a way to inject more meaning into your own life:

Train to work in a field with more personal meaning for you - perhaps something creative or in the service sector? Take up some weird hobbies where you can meet obsessive and weird people: Unicycle basketball? Graffiti art? Join a church or stay at a silent retreat center for a while. Commit yourself to some physically intense volunteer job - like helping build a community garden or Habitat for Humanity. Commit yourself to a fundraising long distance bike ride. Or start taking Klingon lessons. Basically what I'm saying is: find a way to break out of the hamster wheel. Find meaning and passion, with the eventual goal of totally getting away from that 9 to 5 that leaves you sapped and depleted. Be weird. Fuck your job. Try it!
posted by latkes at 5:20 PM on December 7, 2015 [22 favorites]

You sound like me at your age. I sometimes have days like that still, but they are fewer and farther between, and they rarely eat up a whole weekend. Here is what (mostly) works for me:

1) Make a schedule instead of a random list. Instead of just having a bunch of things you feel like you should do but keep putting off, give those tasks specific times: grocery shopping Saturday morning, then pay bills, then lunch, then dishes in the afternoon. If I miss a task, I still keep to the schedule.

2) Front-load your schedule. If I have just one thing scheduled in the evening (like a party), I'm more likely to procrastinate my day away, and then I feel gross and then skip the party, and then hate myself more, and then that ruins my next day, too. If I commit to early Saturday volunteering or something, I'm more likely to get out of bed because I haven't ruined the weekend yet, and then I'm more likely to keep that momentum going.

3) Don't over schedule, and make time for the YouTube binge watching. Some of that down time is restorative for me, and if I am too "good" during the weekend, I actually crash during the week sometime. I've learned to accept that watching crap on TV is actually sort of "productive" from a mental health perspective, and it's better if I let myself enjoy it.

4) Relatedly, don't buy the hype of everyone else's awesome lives. They all (or almost all) let dishes pile up and watch reality TV or whatever. You just see the edited version of their lives, but a whole lot of people are watching bad television, or else those shows would get cancelled.
posted by alligatorpear at 5:26 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm an extrovert (mostly). I MUST go to an exercise class first thing weekend mornings. I live alone, and not interacting with people early in my day makes me really depressed.
posted by sweetkid at 5:27 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think everyone else already has way better solutions for the more general problem, but one small thing that works for me is ... have you considered getting a speaker, attaching it to your laptop, and binge-watching tv WHILE you do the dishes, or clean up your room, or fold laundry? I find I can trick myself into doing chores if I still get to turn off my brain a bit and zone out to mindless tv.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2015 [11 favorites]

1) I also go to a workout class on Saturday mornings, which means one day of productive clean waking up early and one day of relaxing at home (Sunday) every weekend. It's a good balance for me.

2) Yes, set up a TV so that chores aren't excruciatingly boring, or my personal favorite: queue up a lot of engaging podcasts so you can put on your headphones and get things done. If the podcasts are good it makes me even look forward to doing boring things/cleaning/working out.
posted by easter queen at 5:37 PM on December 7, 2015

All of these apps and specific tips will be unsuccessful if you're untreated for ADD and/or depression. I'd bet $500 you'd be considered one or the other, or both.

Step one: look up a psychiatrist who takes your insurance and take them a printout of this question.
posted by barnone at 5:40 PM on December 7, 2015

I remember you (fondly!) so had a look at your history. I can't see anyone suggesting [other than just now more than once on preview] you may have undiagnosed ADHD — which shocks me because holy hell do you definitely have this. One reason people might be reluctant to go there is not knowing how ADHD and depression interact and how the former can cause the latter, but I'm a person with a) an extensive education on both and b) both.

You get a lot of good advice in these threads, but fundamentally it's mostly advice for people with different brains to you. Your brain is different. It's amazing, energetic, creative, but it's never going to be good at certain things like intrinsic motivation on boring tasks. It's not because you're not trying hard enough and it's not because you're just failing to think positively with enough energy and commitment. Living with an ADHD neurotype in a non-ADHD society is about living a frustratingly slow learning process of getting to know, recognise and accept your specific impairments and abilities – because society isn't geared to do that for us – learning to eventually hate and berate yourself a lot less (it is possible!) and switch things around so that you're basically not trying to use a broken leg all the time and not enduring that pain needlessly.

You gotta start. You don't deserve this much self-directed hatred, nobody does; there is another way. You're already putting in mountain-moving amounts of effort fighting to try to be okay: you can do this.

If you can afford diagnosis, make enquiries ASAP; if you can't, or in any case, order Sari Solden's "Journeys through ADDulthood" from Bookbutler. Give it away if it's not you — but honestly, I promise you you'll see yourself in those pages and a way out of this worst of places.
posted by lokta at 5:47 PM on December 7, 2015 [17 favorites]

Until you get treatment for whatever ails you, do what I do to trick myself into productivity: I unfailingly make Saturday late morning/early afternoon my out of the house chores time. I fill up the car with recycling, returnables, stuff to go to the post office, change to be run through the Coinstar, stuff that needs to be returned to the store, whatever. I bring my grocery bags, too. I bring the sales flyers for the local grocery stores. And then I go to our recycling center and get rid of the recycling — then I go have lunch. There, I've accomplished a thing, AND I've treated myself! Most other chores are handled at the supermarket (coins, returnables, shopping, etc.). With the coins I get an Amazon gift card. There's another reward! Plus I get groceries so the cats can eat and I can eat. Another reward! When my dryer broke and I was going to the laundromat, I did laundry right after the grocery shopping — throw in the loads, go home & put away groceries, then come back and wait during the dryer cycle.

I get home, put away the groceries, and if I do nothing else for the whole weekend, I've managed that and it's only taken a few hours (plus I get reading in while I'm having lunch). I do try to get laundry done so I have clothes to go to work, and I run the dishwasher usually, too. And then I can feel ok on Sunday just lazing around and doing nothing or better yet getting out and seeing people. When I used to use Saturday as my lazing around day, inevitably the looming chores day just hung over my head and I didn't enjoy it. Forcing myself to do chores on Saturday (after sleeping late!) allows me guilt free whatever for the rest of the weekend.
posted by clone boulevard at 6:36 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

my secret weapon in the getting-stuff-clean-cooking-organizing war against my laziness is inviting people over. I can totally get off my butt to prep the place and cook a nice dinner if I know there will be other people sharing it. And then there is the total bonus of having a fun evening with your friends.

The only potential pitfall here is that then it can be hard to find the motivation to clean up after, so it can help to enlist one of the guests to help with the dishes after dinner.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:48 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have this problem from time to time, too.

Have something planned for Saturday morning. I love farmer's markets, myself. Or a jog through a new neighborhood. Or brunch with someone in the area that I'd like to get to know better. Maybe there's a festival in town.

Set out your clothes. Set an alarm (even if it's a late one). Don't bother showering, just leave.

Consider making it a goal to ask a question of one stranger each weekend. (where do you go shopping for a great outfit like that? Which way to Main street? I'm new here, where can I see something cool?)

Then do a chore when you come back. Do it while listening to a podcast or having a fancy beer or talking to you mom on the phone.

Then after you've gone out and done something fun and healthy (like getting sun on your face) and maybe an errand, and after you've done a household chore, get back on YouTube.
posted by jander03 at 6:54 PM on December 7, 2015

Don't listen to the people who say you're mentally ill. You're just tired from working and are fighting with yourself over giving yourself the right to some downtime.

There are some good ideas here, but another one for weekends is to make plans with someone else. If you know you're having brunch with a friend at 11 you can get up and out – a little later than on a workday – meet the friend, have some nosh, and then you're out of the house and can go do some errands afterwards, or slot in any other things you need to do.

But you're allowed to have some downtime when you work full time. You need time to read a book, watch a movie, soak in the tub. Everyone has to recharge. Nobody has to be productive all the time.
posted by zadcat at 7:39 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Pay someone to clean your place for you every Saturday morning and leave the house for a couple of hours while they're there cleaning.
posted by Kwadeng at 8:00 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have the same problem which is often one of inertia (mentioned above). What jump start my morning is going on a run. However telling myself that "I will go on a run first thing!" is far too intimidating. So I do something that I picked up (I think from metafilter)- I just have to get dressed to go running. An even smaller step is just put on my shoes. I'm allowed to take them back off again if I want- but it seems so silly to literally lace them up and take them off again. And then I might as well put on some jogging clothes. And since I'm dressed I could at least go for a walk. And then since I'm outside and I'll dressed for it I go for a run anyway. Once I'm home I need a shower and then have real clothes and I feel like I can get other things done- and even if I don't- at least I went on a run.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:26 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hmm. I have this "problem" and what's been most effective for me is to enjoy it. Work is hard, bodies need rest. I have spent entire weekends not only watching Youtube, but watching porn (gasp). And ordering in food. Rather than beating myself up, I think, wow, my life is good. I'm relaxing with myself in ways that almost nobody gets to enjoy. My life is mine, my mind is mine. It's a matter of perspective. Sometimes I think, "If I died tomorrow, would I be happy that I spent today like this?" Then I think yes, I would. The people I love are in my mind, memories, and life. All kinds of days are beautiful, and as long as I am there (and I always am, because well, I'm me) then the day is a happy one. Even a relaxed "boring" day.

There's also something feminist about this. Do you know that in all countries of the world, even supposedly egalitarian Scandinavian countries, women spend ~3-4 hours more doing unpaid work each week than men at a minimum, including housework, chores, shopping, etc.? I let clothes pile up sometimes because I think to myself, the world *wants* me to do this laundry. The world is going to yell at me if I don't do laundry. But know what? The Earth keeps on turning and I can get to work etc. without doing this fucking laundry. I do not care and it turns out that it hardly matters. My squalor. My freedom. Sometimes I look at the laundry and feel proud of myself and think, "They didn't get to you entirely. Just watch me as I *do not do this fucking laundry*" and it sort of signals my freedom.

Sometimes there's a visceral need for open-ended, unscheduled time in a highly scheduled world. Not just 3 hours of unscheduled time, but a whole weekend of it. Or maybe many weekends. What I find is that by enjoying enough of these unstructured weekends without beating myself up, I naturally get to a point of wanting to do laundry and get out of the house. When I'm ready.

Practical advice is to use modern technology to make sure you don't, in your sloth, miss anything important. Why are you going out to pay rent, seriously? Your bank can do that automatically each month, and if not, find an online bank that does it. You just put in the address and set up autopay, and voila, the check is sent monthly. Stop going to the post office! Put all your accounts on autopay, every last one. The one task I do each month is glance at my bank balance and see that it looks fine, so I can breathe a sigh of relief that every bill on Autopay will be paid.

I get my groceries delivered from Instacart. When I consider the value of my time and the price I might pay to ride the subway or for gas etc., delivery pays off at only $3.99. Especially if I consider that with groceries in the house, I'll order out a lot less.

In all, I think that a change of perspective could be helpful to you. I find that sloth is self-limiting. Let it happen for long enough, stop the self hatred, stop using words about yourself like "lazy" and "lethargic" "procrastinator" "guilty" "excuse making" "unimpressive (to yourself)" etc., and the sloth will run its course and naturally lift. When your body and mind are ready, you'll move on. Do you have a recent life event that needs processing? Do you need to figure out "who you are" or "what you're doing" in life, any recent trauma or big questions? These are the moments in my life when I've found myself the most slothful, because my hardworking brain trying to process all of that takes time. I've spent weekend after weekend lying around until my brain was good and done processing what it needed in order for me to have a clear direction to move on. While this happened, rather than telling myself, "You lazy person!", I told myself, "Good girl, lucky girl, resting your body and mind at home, luxuriating, make the most of your freedom, relaxing, being yourself, enjoying, not putting pressure on yourself, good job."

You asked if anyone else is slothful, and I'm slothful, as I've described. From my experience, maybe a different type of self-talk would be useful to you.
posted by omg_parrots at 8:32 PM on December 7, 2015 [24 favorites]

You're being really, really hard on yourself :/ It's just a lot of work to live alone and keep a household going, feed yourself nutritional & tasty food, and work full-time. There's way less to do when there's >2 mutually invested people living in a place. (Usually.)

House stuff: 2nd getting help with cleaning, even just once so you're starting with an actually clean slate. Then, look at what's missing in terms of organization, because something probably is. (Closet organization? Shelving? Entryway stuff? Where do the little piles get made?) Invest a bit of time and money in planning spaces for things that don't have places. Get rid of extra stuff that you don't use and gets in the way. This has made such a difference for the better, for me.

Once you have your organization set up, and everything theoretically has a place: every time you get up, pick something up and put it where or near where it's supposed to be. (E.g., you grab a cup left on the coffee table on your way to the kitchen to get a banana; you take the sunglasses you left on the bathroom shelf with you after you wash your hands, and stick them in your purse.) I keep my place clean-ish mostly via casual pacing around and grabbing, like that.

Laundry & food: Do some laundry on two workweek nights (pop it in while you're watching stuff), and do a quick shop for groceries on two other workweek nights (that will take a bit more planning, until you get used to it). A few times a week, cook a lot of something so you're covered for a couple of dinners with leftovers (a chili, a roast, something like that). Learn a few more easy, quick recipes for other nights. But there's nothing wrong with eggs or pasta, btw.

One other midweek day is for sweeping, mopping, and watering plants. (I do all that on garbage day, because it's memorable.)

Other than that - yes, I procrastinate all the time, and I'm much more energetic, happier, and more active when I'm around people than when I'm alone. (Which is a trial when you live alone!) I'm not great at planning weekends, either, and I'll be using some of the great advice above.

(Please stop being so hard on yourself!)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:09 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I lived like you for weeks or months on end. Tried most of the suggestions made above. What worked is now called No More Zero Days, Non-Zero Days or similar. Starting is the hardest part so make it as easy as possible. For example, my goal was to exercise once every 2 days. By counting something as small as one push-up as exercise I sometimes met my goal. The task was so easy it became obvious that or me starting was the hardest part. Each day I'd committed to exercise, it became easier to decide to do that one push up. Then one day it seemed ridiculous not to continue for a set of push-ups. Starting became much easier. Pretty soon I was going weeks without missing a planned exercise day.
posted by Homer42 at 1:17 AM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

On a very basic level—I'm getting this straight from my vacation reading about Heidegger's philosophy of being in the world—your life is made up of embodied habits and the way you perceive possibilities around you. From the moment you wake up you are enmeshed in a field of action. That field holds out offerings for you; you engage with it all, mostly without even thinking. In moments of reflection you may imagine goals and purposes, but in the daily flow of life you are not aware of such things—you just *are*, go about being, in your particular way that you've learned.

One point Heidegger makes (according to Dreyfus) is that it's usually a mistake to attribute things to your "self." What you are is tangled up with your situation and the way your relating to things functions in your environment. So beating yourself up is probably counterproductive. Instead consider your habits and habitats. Where in your daily life are there affordances for the type of life that you in reflective moments realize you would like? How can you install more of them? What signals in your home beckon you to sloth? How can you change them?

Your question revolves around a distinction between your home and your self contra the outside world and novelty. Familiarity is a big piece in all that. Focusing on that may be instructive. Someone has said you can stimulate your enthusiasm for active novelty by something silly like brushing your teeth with your other arm. Try a new cafe. Hell, choose Vimeo over YouTube. Small new vistas. Take public transport in the wrong direction.
posted by mbrock at 4:38 AM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

Hello! I too am a single woman living alone, with two cats. I too love lazing about. I accepted this a while back when things were really very shitty at work, and I realized that I was relaxing because I needed to. Once work got better (left that office entirely), I actually held on to some of the laziness because it is essential to my well-being. When I'm at work and a gazillion things are happening that all need managed, I can think to my weekend and go, "boy, I am so glad that silence and nothingness truly exist."

Here's what I do. When I get home, I still have the remainder of a day of nervous energy to spend. I use it by tidying up whatever strikes my eye. Because if it strikes my eye, it needs it. Ten minutes later, it's done, I crash. My bathroom and kitchen stay very clean thanks to this, and my budget up-to-date. Additional tip: I figured out several years ago that I don't actually have to do ALL the dishes or ALL the laundry at once. If I only want to clean one bowl, I clean one bowl. It inevitably becomes more, though. And it's been years since I've had a dish pileup thanks to this approach, so daunting dish piles are but a fading memory now. If I were to formalize it (but that's emphatically not the point), it would be:
- tidy up kitchen
- tidy up bathroom
- tidy up random small areas that catch my eye. Sweep, mop, clean. If you do a little area when it needs it, you quickly discover that your whole place stays clean.
- check that budget's up-to-date and how much money I have (I keep a detailed budget; high school personal finance inculcated this and it is a LIFESAVER, I am so much happier when I know where I've been, where I am, and where I will be financially).
-> I seriously spend no more than 10 minutes an evening on these, and it's a different thing every evening

Then, every evening, I watch the latest favorite series or movie, read MeFi, blab on Facebook...

Weekends I have a soft schedule – groceries, laundry, kitty litter, and the rest of the time is for enjoyment. I've come to enjoy groceries though; I make it a point to pick a store with a nice walk that carries good products. Things I enjoy could be a hike, museum, concert, shopping, gardening, whatever I feel like doing or not doing, because it can also include playing FarmVille and talking to the cats all day. Note that having an up-to-date budget means you know exactly what you can afford to do with your free time.

As others have mentioned, the motivation comes of its own accord once you accept the so-called laziness. I too have come to see productivity as something that's way too overaccentuated. Heck, our ancestors had loads of downtime. What do you do with a farm once everything's planted and started growing well? You wait. Chase birds and mice. Watch the sky. Tell stories. Maybe do a bit of hunting if you want some meat. What do you do once harvest is past, you've salted your meat and prepped your fields for wintering? You eat and talk and sleep until spring comes and planting can start again.
posted by fraula at 4:59 AM on December 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

I think other people have given you good advice (especially about looking into mental health hygiene, and about getting up and out of the house no matter what). I just have a few minor details to tack on.

rhythm_queen: "Are any of you like this, slothful for no reason? "

You're not slothful for NO REASON, you're slothful because humans are lazy, yo, and you work hard and need some down time. You're worn out! There are probably healthier ways of winding down that will help you relax and recharge without making you feel terrible about yourself, but you don't need to be all go-go-go and learning new skills and becoming your best self 24/7. Sometimes you can sit on the couch and watch random YouTube videos. It's okay! It's neither immoral nor gross, and if it helps you relax and recharge, it's good! Nobody has the energy to go full-tilt all the time. Relaxation is not a waste of time! You need to find some ways to get the chores out of the way so you can relax with a feeling of virtue, instead of having your relaxation hijacked by worry about all the things you haven't finished.

Tiny brain hack, which works for some people but not for others: I finally found the killer way to defeat my housekeeping procrastination is to FOCUS ON NOTHING BUT THE HORRIBLE THING I HAVE TO DO. Like, instead of going, "Ugh, the dishes are dirty -- well, I won't think about it," (my usual procrastination mechanism), when I think of the dishes, I force myself to think terrible things about the dishes for a few minutes: "Ugh, I just DREAD doing the dishes. They're so GROSS and terrible and I don't want to deal with it! Dishes are the worst. I can't believe this chore is going to be hanging over my head all day." It rapidly becomes easier to jump up and do the dishes (which takes ten minutes) than to spend half the day dreading doing the dishes -- I make the procrastinating painfully worse than just doing The Thing. (Try it once; if it sends your anxiety through the roof, do not do. It sends my anxiety just high enough that I'm willing to go do chores I hate, but for other people it just makes them fall apart emotionally, so don't do it if it doesn't work!)

Third, consider physically turning off your wifi on the weekend (or one day of the weekend) if you really want to avoid falling into an internet hole. You could put it on a timer so it turns off from 9 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday, encouraging you to do non-connected things. Or you could just physically flip the switch off. Or, you could install a "leechblock" extension on your computer that won't let you access YouTube or other time-suck websites on weekends. Sometimes just that tiny interruption to your usual habit-fueled surfing can make you go, "Oh, right, I don't want to do this today."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:51 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is my life and I have started to realise that what ryanshepherdything said is right: leave the house. I find it almost paralysing to be at home and you are paralysed by having too much choice whereas outside of the house you have fixed environments within which you have no choice e.g. you can't do your dishes in the library, you can't pay your rent in the coffee shop etc. Assign specific locations for specific activities as best you can. I am going to start writing my script in the coffee shop - longhand. If I don't do this, it won't get done. I will think of all of the other things I could do then feel fed up like I'll never have the life I want, give up and watch Wendy Williams with a pack of chocolate digestives. You should probably see the house as a place to only eat, sleep, shower. Your problem is 'too much motivation'. Google it.

If you want to physically be at home then you're going to have to be so strict with yourself it hurts (initially, although I find banning myself from things a bit thrilling and 'adult'). You will have to say 'Saturday from 10-12 I will cook a new dish and I am not allowed to do anything else'. Don't do this any other day. Don't plan a whole schedule for the day because you won't do it. Just one thing. Pretty soon you will start to see that in order to get everything done, you have to do this one thing at a time. It hurts because you feel as if you are denying your other activities like they are your children.

Another aspect of this is 'living in the future'. Last Sunday I woke up with the feeling of wanting to change my bed sheets. In came the thought of possibly making music instead. I shut it out then made the bed. Then I thought I should Hoover. In came the option of going into the shower. 'Ok I'll do that next. No more options, brain'. I hoovered then had a bath. Each activity needs to be decided and done in real time. Right at that moment. Which reminds me - do your dishes as soon as you eat. Do not leave the kitchen. I do them as I am cooking because I hate mess. You must be doing something while the food is heating. Fuck stirring. Wash a dish.

Everything can be accomplished but not at the same time.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 6:07 AM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Btw you are not lazy, you are exhausted by your brain. It is affecting your energy levels. I don't know if you have ever meditated but it creates a lot of mental 'space' because you are training your mind to focus on what is in front of you not on what your brain in conjuring up. As a result you feel as if you have a lot more energy. That is basically who you are naturally. Kids have an insane amount of energy because they are not doing the future-dwelling, rumination thing. They are living in real time.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 6:14 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I feel like I may have asked you this before, but have you been screened for ADHD? I ask because before I was diagnosed with ADHD (and when I'm not taking my meds for whatever reason), it is very easy for my weekend days to look like this. ADHD can make you very susceptible to inertia, and it can be hard to get started, even on fun things.

Otherwise, I think the best way to deal with this is make lots of plans for the weekend, BEFORE the weekend rolls around. If you have plans with a friend for, say, brunch, that will get you out of the apartment, and then you can go to the grocery store on the way home. Or if you want to give yourself motivation to clean, invite people over for dinner Sunday night.
posted by lunasol at 8:03 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

My weekends often look like what you are describing. I have ADHD.

I've found that peer pressure is a huge motivator for me, so I use that to leverage myself into doing things. If I invite someone over for dinner or to play games, I'll tidy up and vacuum. I get myself to leave the house by making commitments to volunteer, etc. Another thing I've done is to post to a small group on FB that "I'm going to put on my sports bra now" or whatever is the next small step towards the thing I need to do. And after making the commitment to the group, I do it. And then I post the next step. And eventually, hopefully, momentum takes over and I get the thing done.

BUT I also have to agree with the above commenters that sometimes you actually need the down time. But if you are stressing out and beating yourself up for your downtime then it's not really helping you that much. What downtime would make you feel better? A walk in the park? A day at a museum?
posted by bunderful at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yep, my weekends also look like this if I'm not careful. External appointments are the way to go for me (gym classes, then grocery shopping on the way home, then booked cinema tickets/plans to meet friends/SOMETHING that is booked in and I can't easily cancel.

If I have to get work done I leave the house with my laptop and go to the library. This morning I left the house when my husband left for work and got a coffee (I'm off work post-night shifts) and then came back and got stuff done, or I'd still be in my pyjamas.

I don't know if it's ADHD or if you're just tired (my weekdays are busy, I get home after 9pm most nights and weekends are my only downtime). Either way, I find it hard to self-motivate but I can obey external pressures no matter how much I would rather stay in bed.

Minimising what needs doing, or doing it at your most productive time of day, will help. Can you pay bills online in the evening? Can you set up direct debits? Can you afford a cleaner?
posted by tinkletown at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2015

Also all of the things you want to do? (Learning to cook etc) Do them in the evenings. One of the reasons I'm late home is because I have various tennis and dance and language courses on weeknights - no way would I have the energy to go to those things at the weekend.
posted by tinkletown at 11:23 AM on December 8, 2015

Response by poster: thank you so much for all your lovely answers! The truth is that I don't feel happy when I'm feeling like this, I feel depressed and unable to change it. So accepting it, while I understand the logic behind it, isn't really an option. I definitely do not want to spend my last day on earth like this. There's so much more I want to do. However I feel it is very hard to make the change almost like there's a force that stopped me right before I take out the garbage even though I feel some sense of relief when I do it.

I feel like I always lived in only 30% of my potential. I've always stopped myself from achieving so much because of my lethargy and my tiredness and laziness. I am so caught up with social anxiety, what people think of me, and other garbage. I'm wasting my life. I also feel that I'm already wasted so much time I'm so regretful for it. I'm nervous and scared for what the future holds. Especially if I'm so weak emotionally and not grateful for what I have, instead Miserable and bumming around when I'm supposed to be young and at my best and at my freest. every year I tell myself this will be the new year where I make a change and things are different. How do I make it stick this time? How do I move into action when I have always been inertia or lack of action? I grew up hearing from my grandfather that I am in action, inertia and my brother is action. Maybe I was a little bit like that but he definitely cemented that view of myself. How do I make a change when I'm my worst enemy? Seeing my therapist on Thursday, so hope I can get even more answers then.
posted by rhythm_queen at 1:50 PM on December 8, 2015

You're trying to do too much at once. Check out Personal Kanban and learn how to visualize what you want to do and how to break down tasks so you'll do them.

Also, remove the emotion and judgement from achieving things or not. Daily working on Achieving Things should feel boring, emotionless and robotic. The good feelings of Achieving Things come months or years later.
posted by sweetkid at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

rhythm_queen: "Miserable and bumming around when I'm supposed to be young and at my best and at my freest."

Being young is balls. Turn 30, things improve. I haven't hit 40 yet, but I'm looking forward to that being even better, if watching other people is any guide.

Anybody who tells you "these are the best years of your life" is bullshitting you, and has an Al Bundy view of the universe -- it's all downhill after high school and you'll spend your life as a miserable schlub. That was true for Al Bundy, but most of us are not Al Bundy, and your life gets better and more interesting as you gain experience and emotional maturity. It's like, I read The Great Gatsby in high school, like most people, and I was like "Oh, cool book, good stuff." Then I read it again a couple years ago with my book club when it was the ReadAmerica pick, and I was like, "WHOA THIS BOOK IS AMAZING" because I just understood so much more just from being older and having experienced more complicated and adult emotions and understanding more about adult relationships and adult mistakes. Getting older is like that -- the same books keep getting better because you keep getting more intelligent.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:04 PM on December 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

How do I make a change when I'm my worst enemy?

- Try to see yourself as a work in progress, as someone who's capable of change.

- 2nd sweetkid - be patient with yourself, take on a limited number of goals. Accept that it will take time, consistent effort, and slow progression to see results.

- Forgive yourself for "weaknesses" that are the result of things that are beyond you, per mbrock. (E.g.: growing up mostly isolated in the burbs, with limited options for spontaneous, self-directed action, or engagement with ones' community or surroundings, is imo a decent explanation for some of the inertia that is very common among young burbites or recent burbites. The burbs breed passivity, make it a habit. All the stuff in your past - that happened, and has had effects. Those effects don't completely define you now, or necessarily limit who you'll be or what you'll do in the future, but, they might take a bit of time to undo, and new ways of being will also take time.)

So much excellent advice from everyone here.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:45 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

"I grew up hearing from my grandfather that I am in action, inertia and my brother is action. Maybe I was a little bit like that but he definitely cemented that view of myself."

That's unfortunate. Note to self: don't make limiting prophecies for my kids.

From the little I've read about psychology, that's a kind of thing that can cause semi-conscious complexes that take time and awareness to untangle.

If you have this view of yourself as somehow essentially inactive, even if you don't consciously believe in it, it seems like it could affect you in powerful ways, like a kind of phobia.

Owen Renik's book "Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients" has a number of cases when a patient has been under the sway of such a notion without seeing it clearly enough to work through it. It's a great book (and was recommended to me by a practicing therapist who is very practically oriented).

The cliche of psychoanalysis would be, I suppose, to ask "how do you feel about your grandfather?" Maybe some insight could be dug out there.

I have very similar tendencies toward sloth and despair. Some of it is a resistance to taking my own desires seriously, which makes me skip doing what I really want and instead do "nothing" (which is less like relaxation and more like nervous avoidance). There's also some kind of attention problem.

Being alone at home with a fast net connection is not a natural setting for a human being's body or mind, I think. Forgive the crude comparison but a mouse in a lab with a high-powered orgasm button isn't going to live an existentially satisfying little mouse life.

In my quest for understanding there's one clue I've picked up in so many different places. It's all over Buddhist psychology, Heidegger, traditional wisdom, psychoanalysis, David Foster Wallace, almost everywhere I look. The clue is to notice your thinking mind's obsession with taking itself as a theme—and how you habitually misattribute stuff to "yourself" as a fixed entity. The upshot is that being in the world is much more open and free if you can somehow release these ingrained self-notions.

Some people compare it to a waking dream. In dreams I am often haunted by looming paranoias of various types, and when I remember them I don't even remember the cause, just that I somehow needed to do this and that, some force was compelling me, it's all very confused. After waking up, I realize it was all silliness and go take a shower. The emotional confusion I was tangled up in while sleeping just peels away. This is also the sensation I often get from meditating, or from sitting down with a cup of tea, or talking to someone who understands my stuff without being tangled up in it.

Then also there's the "judo" approach. That's my name for the method that comes from accepting my own weakness, that I basically cannot use strong willpower to solve the very problem of malfunctioning willpower. So instead of trying to lift myself by my own bootstraps, I devise a more cunning tactic. This often involves changing my environment, which is a way to use a small amount of effort (putting my shoes on, getting on a bus) to effect a large change (transforming from sloth-me into library-me, which is a very different character).

So I see myself as a node in a vast world. The world and me together make up the situation. I am not entirely responsible, but I have a measure of control, which I must use efficiently and intelligently.

I can get by with a small amount of willpower exertion if I train my neural networks properly: for example, I've learned to enjoy washing dishes by using a kind of mise-en-place; I am an artist of washing dishes calmly, patiently, and methodically.

Meditation has been a nexus for training this type of thing, because it focuses exclusively on non-clinging sensory awareness and releasing negative strivings and aversions. I learn about meditation by washing and cooking, and vice versa. My meditation teacher always emphasizes the balance of patience and energy.

I'd like to have a name for the particular tactic humans seem prone to when they are in situations of demand-free weekends with a cupboard full of pasta and a computer full of entertainment. In honor of Foster Wallace you could call it the infinite jest response. There are definite patterns: the carbohydrates, the long periods of sitting still, the desire for warmth, the hints of self-punishment, the subconscious attempt to solve a problem (boredom, isolation) by doing more of the malignant thing that causes the problem (sitting at home doing nothing in particular, getting the wrong type of nutrition), the tendency for ineffective rumination, in some cases an associated drug use (beer or weed), and so on.

With a clearer concept of that as a particular state of the modern human animal, it might be easier to recognize it and take efficient action to nip it, to counteract it with specific antidotes. And importantly to see it as a psychological mechanism that exists in the world, like the typical reactions to stress or hypothermia—and not as personal failings, deficient moral character, fundamental personality traits, or anything like that.

If this were a different forum I might challenge you to a sloth-off to determine who has had the most extreme weekends. I have some stories. Sometimes I'm too lazy to even eat potato chips, and then hunger itself becomes a kind of weird reward. Combine that hunger with the restless energy of instant coffee and an aversion to hygiene and you can have a very interesting lonely Saturday. I've had days of eating nothing but rice and butter. Bresson's "Diary of a Country Priest" has a young neurotic priest who consumes only bread and wine; I empathized.

You're really not uniquely bad. Life is challenging in many ways and some of the challenges are set up to make you believe in your own fundamental inadequacy. It's illusion. You have agency. Others live through equivalent challenges and there are tricks to be found. Habits to learn. It's part of growing up in these times. Part and parcel of the game of life as you found it. A Japanese Buddhist poem has the words "let go of hundreds of years and walk, innocent." Fresh start every day. As DFW said "I wish you way more than luck."
posted by mbrock at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

So accepting it, while I understand the logic behind it, isn't really an option.

Acceptance is not quite the same as saying "I am content to continue in exactly this way for the rest of my life." It's more like saying "Well, this is where I am and that's just what it is ... now what?" and not beating yourself up for it. Acceptance is how you ground yourself so you can move forward.

You're not wrong that getting more stuff done will feel good. And you're wise to notice the difference between non-productive time that feels refreshing vs non-productive time that makes you feel worse. It's just that kicking yourself is not the answer.
posted by bunderful at 9:47 PM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

I feel like I always lived in only 30% of my potential. I've always stopped myself from achieving so much because of my lethargy and my tiredness and laziness. I am so caught up with social anxiety, what people think of me, and other garbage. I'm wasting my life. I also feel that I'm already wasted so much time I'm so regretful for it. I'm nervous and scared for what the future holds. Especially if I'm so weak emotionally and not grateful for what I have, instead Miserable and bumming around when I'm supposed to be young and at my best and at my freest. every year I tell myself this will be the new year where I make a change and things are different. How do I make it stick this time? How do I move into action when I have always been inertia or lack of action? I grew up hearing from my grandfather that I am in action, inertia and my brother is action. Maybe I was a little bit like that but he definitely cemented that view of myself. How do I make a change when I'm my worst enemy?

You are talking to yourself in similar ways as my emotionally abusive ex talked to me. Dealing with all that toxic, abusive bs left me exhausted and unmotivated to do anything. While some people think that tearing others down is somehow motivating, it's not -- it's soul-destroying. Your grandfather (or others) may have started that voice in your head, but at this point, you're abusing yourself.

You may want to talk to your therapist about more compassionate self-talk (silly therapy word for "how you talk to yourself and about yourself in your head") and more compassionate ways of seeing yourself in general.
posted by jaguar at 7:30 AM on December 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I used to be this way when I was around your age. Just kind of mouching around my flat being a slob and frying sausages.

On Saturday mornings I started going down the road to read the weekend papers in the coffee shop. This was before the weekend papers were completely awful, and before smartphones, so it was easy enough to be engaged with that for a couple of hours. Couple of flat whites and the papers and some smokes (when I smoked). It was good.

Then the coffee got bad at my regular place, so I had to try different places. This led to walking greater distances to find good coffee, and then I was like, hey, I'll be a coffee guy, whatever. So I'd walk further and further, crossing four or five suburbs to find decent-seeming coffee places.

Then I stopped going to the coffee places and just did the walking. I would get up at 7, have a shower, get dressed, and I would just be out walking around Melbourne for the entire day, stopping in a park for a sit down whenever I needed a rest. Get home at 7, exhausted, and throw on the laundry and cook some dinner and THEN I could flake out and be a bum.

My point is start with a small goal: I will go to the closest coffee shop on Saturday mornings and read the least-worst newspaper available, or the Saturday supplement, whatever.

After a few weeks of this: I will go to the coffee shop that is further away and read the paper.

Then try a new place every Saturday. Make sure you walk there. Look at the things as you are doing the walking. It will all fall into place.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think jaguar has it - you are exhausting yourself with some really harsh mind talk, and since you've probably been talking to yourself like this for years, you're really exhausted.

I say this as someone who has the same problem, right down to the slothing at weekends. I was always telling myself that I should be doing more, more, more, always improving, always living life, and punishing myself anytime I wasn't living to my fullest potential. I was always at 100% or 0%, and hated myself for the 0% times. Eventually, all that negative mind talk built up and up until I started having terrible panic attacks, and finally had to deal with it.

Turns out, being really awful to yourself is really poisonous for your mind and body (look at the words you use about yourself - weak, lazy, wasting my life, only 30% of my potential), and one of the key ways to start fixing it is to learn to be compassionate to yourself. It's really, really hard to do at first - the best way to get started is to pretend like you're talking to your best friend rather than yourself - what would you say to her? Would you tell her that she's wasting her potential? Would you call her lazy? Why wouldn't you apply the same kindness to yourself?

CBT therapy is a really good way to tackle this kind of mind talk, and I'd highly recommend reading The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert - it's half science, half practical exercises to help you learn to be kind to yourself.

I'm still working on this, but I already feel less exhausted - the irony is that I was wasting so much energy castigating myself that I was tiring myself out from doing other things. A little bit of drive is a great thing, but it's not the only way to motivate yourself - there is loads of energy in "I want to" instead of "I should".
posted by ukdanae at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

« Older Identify the rodent I caught in my basement (in a...   |   How did you decide whether to go into management?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.