How to do stuff you don't want to do

Episode : . A Blue background with a yellow neuron with a body the shape of a star. Words say Ex-gifted podcast. Helping exceptional kids become functional adults. A Yellow stripe across the bottom reads With Raine Eliza from

Dr. K on motivation (CW for problematic language in linked video, probably)


There's stuff you have to do but just don't want to do

What we can do about it:

Figuring out why I do want to do something works way better for me than just pushing through, trying to convince or cajole myself, or "waiting until motivation strikes"

When there's something I really need to do, it usually comes with rewards or consequences. This means I can have a conversation where I actually talk myself through my thoughts, motivations, and underlying assumptions - without actually pressuring myself or trying to "talk myself into it" by instead just asking questions and getting curious. Once I give up on the story that "I don't want to do this" (which is untrue anyway, since I want to gain the reward or avoid the consequence), it becomes much easier to get started.

And when there's something that I don't need to do, but am just pushing it on myself because of societal expectation - like folding laundry - I just don't do it.

I'm a grown adult which means that nobody gets to say how things work in my house but me. ( and my partner, who knows how to fold his own clothes because he's also a grown up) But that also means that there's nobody to do the things I want done but me (and again, my partner.) If having the dishes piled up is stressing me out, and I want them washed and put away, then I necessarily want to wash the dishes - since there's no other way for them to get washed. And I care about myself and want to do nice things to take care of me.

Realizing that there's a difference between being motivated to do something, and being inspired to do it, has made it easy for me to give up on waiting for that feeling because I know there's nothing inspiring about doing housework. Simply the motivation that is the reward of having a house that is nice to exist in can be enough.


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If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.

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If you need help getting motivated. Then this is the show for you. This is Ex-Gifted.

Hello there friends. I'm Ren Eliza, welcome to the chaotic organized podcast. I'll get right to it. Today I'm going to share with you the secret of how I do things that I don't want to.

I don't do them.

Now. It's going to sound like that is being silly or sarcastic, but I really mean it literally.

And the thing is that it's not entirely true. There are certainly some times that I have things that I have to do and all I can really bring myself to do in order to get it done is to just push through. But I always feel exhausted afterwards. It's always kind of hit or miss if it's going to actually work or not. And it's usually the only thing that I can get done during the day, even if it does work.

So it's not a good use of my time, mostly. Sometimes it just has to happen and I don't have any tips or hacks or anything when it comes to that. If you just have to force yourself to do something, then there's not really any way around it, all you can do is just force yourself. But the goal here is to get into that position as little as possible.

And like I said, my trick is to just not do the things that I don't want to do. I want to be as clear as possible. So I want to explain that when I'm using the word "want" in this episode to talk about things that I want to do or don't want to do. I am talking about being motivated to do those things.

I'm not talking necessarily about having like the dictionary definition of "want" to like, have a strong desire. Just about having the motivation and I will get more to what that means later on in the episode, but to start off, if there is something that I, my brain offers up the thought to me that there's something that I need to do and that I don't want to do it.

I, rather than spending time trying to talk myself into doing it without wanting to do it, I break down that thought. So why am I telling myself that I need to do something that I don't want to do? It is almost never true. And so let's figure out why I'm telling myself that..

A lot of the things are things that I don't actually need to do.

It might be like washing the dishes, which I need to do eventually, but I don't need to do it every single day. So let's say washing the dishes daily. That's a strange example, because I actually do want to wash the dishes daily. I want to do it and I don't need to do it. And yet still that's a thing that my brain loves to offer as an example to me, of something that I need to do, but I don't want to do it.

So if I find an example, like doing laundry. I do laundry pretty much every day right now. And there are some days when I just don't want to do the laundry and I will still have the thought I need to do laundry.

I don't need to do laundry every day. I need to do laundry like once a week, probably because. I've reduced my own clothing enough that I will be running out of clothes by the end of the week, the rest of my family will be fine, but I will be running out of clothes. So I need to do laundry about once a week.

That's how often I need to do laundry, but I tend to do laundry every day. So my brain will have the thought that I need to do it. So on a day that I don't want to do it, I don't make myself do it. If I have the thought, this is my routine, I do laundry every day. I need to do laundry and I really don't want to, I just don't do it.

I know that I need to do it every week, but I don't need to do it every day. And so if it's going to cause me more pain to go through it and do it. I will just wait and do it the next day. And generally by the next day, I will want to do it because here's where motivation comes in. If I wait too many days, if I wait that whole week, I know that in the end, I'm going to have a really big job to do.

When I do laundry every day our loads are extremely small, it takes literally four minutes to put away all of the clothes because I don't always fold. Right there is one thing you don't need to do. So it takes me literally four minutes to put away one day's worth of clothes and that's not sorting it or anything first. That's literally just throwing everything into a basket. And then running around the house and cramming stuff into drawers. It's four minutes. It's it's trivial for one day, for two days, it's like six minutes. For a week, it starts to get to be a really big job.

And so I don't want to get to that point. I would rather do the clothes now on day two, rather than building up a whole week's worth of clothes that I have to deal with. And so I have these conversations with me where I try to figure out, do I really need to do. And do I really want to do it because lots of times I don't need to do it. And sometimes I do need to do it. And then I figure out that I also want to do it.

Like, what's something you really need to do. Like taxes. We just had tax day here in the US a couple of weeks ago. And I put off taxes for a long time because I really did not feel like working on it. However, we are in a position where, we really did need to do taxes by the date, just because specifics of like, not getting paperwork in on time, because chaos brains in this house, that we, even though we were getting a refund, which is why I want to do it. We also had to turn the stuff in on time so that we wouldn't be charged penalties.

So it was a case of, I really did need to do it. So as to not get charged more money, but even though I didn't really feel like doing it cause it's not like a fun thing to do. I did want to do it because actually getting the taxes in meant that we were going to get money back. And getting money back is a good thing.

It is a definitely a motivation, for us in our position. And so motivation, literally, it just means, I mean, to be motivated literally just. That you have a motive or a reason and explanation for why you would do a thing. So, let's walk through a specific example that I have right now.

I need to mop the floors in my house. I have been putting it off at this point. Usually I do it every week, but I've been putting it off for the last couple of weeks because it's not really something I usually, have fun doing. I do not get joy from cleaning.

I need to mop the floors, but I don't want to mop the floors. So we can start off by talking about whether or not I actually need to mop the floors and you could probably argue either way. It's kind of, I think beside the point, I think that if I came down to it and decided like the last few weeks that I didn't really, that I really didn't want to do it, then I would probably try to figure out if I needed to do it.

And if I felt enough, like I did need to do it, then I would have done it last week or the week before. But it didn't because I, I didn't need to do it then. However, it has been a few weeks. And so I would really like to have clean floors. And so. The kind of thing that we're talking about. I will have a conversation with myself possibly like an actual out loud conversation. I do that a lot. I talk to myself not sorry.

I certainly could wait another week or two and probably nothing bad would happen, but I want to have clean floors again. And there's no way for me to have clean floors again, without mopping the floors. So that means that I want mop the floors. There's just kind of, not any way around it.

I have a motivation for mopping the floors. My motivation is having clean floors. Also I hate more than almost any other sensation I hate stepping on crumbs and stuff. It is just the worst feeling, but I also don't really like wearing shoes in the house and it's hard to reconcile this when your floors are dirty, you have to wear shoes in the house because you're trying to avoid the worse sensation of stepping on all the crumbs in the house. If you're not a parent that might not be as much of a concern, but we, we always have crumbs.

And so even though my brain might offer up the idea that I need to clean the floors, but I don't want to clean the floors if I actually sit down and think through it and process it and like talk with myself about it.

If I actually engage with the thought, instead of just letting it spark all kinds of feelings and drama in my head, if I actually deal with it and process it, then I can see that it's not that I need to, and I don't want to, I actually probably don't need to, and I do want to, because I want to have clean floors.

And so in the end, that is my trick to dealing with the stuff that I need to do and I don't want to do. I talk with myself to find out the reason that I actually do want to do it, or alternatively, I figure out that I don't need to do it at all. In which case, if I really don't want to do it, then I don't bother. And in this case, because even though I don't need to do it because I actually do want to do it, I'm probably going to do it. (I did do it, the following day.)

An important thing to note here is that I still don't feel like doing it. I still am not looking forward to mopping the floors. I'm not excited thinking about it. I don't feel like it's going to be a fun thing, but motivation is not a feeling. Motivation is a thought. Motivation is just a reason for wanting to do something. And I have that. I have the reason; I have the motivation.

It's such an important distinction because people sit around waiting for that feeling to come. And they think that that's motivation. They say, "I'm just waiting to get motivated" or "I'm trying to get motivated," but trying to get motivated means like, oftentimes it means sitting around, sitting around and doing nothing. Sometimes when people are trying to get motivated, they actually like at least get up and do something, something active that may actually help them .

But a lot of times people just wait to get motivated. You scroll through social media or you listen to a podcast or whatever, hoping that eventually motivation is just going to strike, but motivation is a thought. And it's one that you may not necessarily have spontaneously at least not for a long time. Not until you actually get strong desire. Like you've stepped on so many crumbs that, you know, that the cleaning the floors needs to happen now because you're so miserable from not cleaning the floors for so long. That's how I used to deal with, with cleaning, especially mopping. I would not do it for months at a time.

It's not a good thing. I don't recommend it because I would be miserable that whole time from the like sticky and, crumb covered floors. It would be miserable and I would still put it off because I didn't feel like doing it.

I was waiting to get that feeling of wanting to do it. That feeling is not motivation. I thought that it was, but it's not. Motivation is just the reason it's just the motive. So I didn't need to keep sitting around waiting until I got motivated because I was already motivated. I already had to deal with fucking crumbs every day. I had the motivation.

The feeling is inspiration and although inspiration can be great for getting you to do a lot of stuff in a relatively short time period. Inspiration is not necessary for anything really but it's especially not necessary for like, boring shit like cleaning, inspiration is for the things that you love and are passionate about.

You don't need to have inspiration for every single thing that you do, and you don't need to waste it on boring stuff. By all means, when you have that cleaning inspiration strike, go clean. Do it. Take advantage of it.

But you don't have to wait for inspiration to brush your teeth. God, that was, that was a huge one for me too. I never bothered with figuring out the why I was motivated to brush my teeth. And so I just didn't do it on a consistent regular basis for many years.

In the end, the getting to the point where I actually brush my teeth, all it took was a conversation with myself and straightening out the thoughts that I had, that I was just taking for granted about brushing my teeth. And it was slightly different than this motivation thing. But it was still a similar kind of thing.

My brain was offering up all of these thoughts to me. I was having all of this talk just going on in my head all the time. And assuming, just taking it for granted, just accepting these default thoughts that my brain was offering to me as the truth. When, when I, when I sat down and actually looked and thought through the things that I was thinking, I could tell that they were just actually just not true.

And then once I knew that they were untrue, I could move on to thinking things that were actually more helpful that actually allow me to brush my teeth twice a day. And it's the same thing for this.

So the important thoughts to know here are that you probably don't need to do the thing -maybe you do- There are some things you need to do, but if you do need to do it, you almost definitely do want to do it. Because the need is generally associated with some kind of thing that you do want. Maybe it's to avoid the discomfort of walking on crumbs. Maybe it's the opposite. Maybe it's because you are excited about getting your tax refund. For some reason, you probably do want to do the thing, especially if you need to do it. And part three. That you still may not feel like doing it, but if it's something mundane, you don't need to wait for the feeling of inspiration to do it.

And I guess a corollary for that motivation is just the, the reason that you want to do it. So once you have those three things in place, Becomes so much easier to do those things that you tell yourself all day that you can't do because you're not motivated.

Just one more thought that I want to leave you with, Dr. K from HealthyGamerGG who like highly highly recommend with the caveat that he's speaking to the gamer community. His people and he speaks their language, which means that the language from him, but also, especially from the chat can be problematic. And in particular, it's going to have a lot of ableism, so if you can get past that, there's so much good on his channel.

He, in one of his episodes, described -and I will link to it in the show notes ( - he described motivation as the ability to hold a single thought in your head. And obviously the ADHDers in chat were very upset, very distressed by this. The ability to stay focused on one idea.

And I think that that's such a great example or such a great explanation for what motivation is. It is the ability to remember over a period of time that you want to do the thing and why you want to do it. The ability to hold on to that thought to remember that you have a reason for doing this in the first place.

That's what motivation is.

That is the state of being motivated. And for my people, if you can't hold that thought in your brain because your working memory is complete shit. Welcome to the club, but it's okay.

The trick for that is to write it down. If you can't remember why write that shit down and your brain doesn't have to remember it because your planner will remind you. This is why we build a planner habit so that we can let our planner do this stuff that's too hard for our brains to do. And that, I mean, that's, that's mostly what you're going to get from me is to, to write stuff down, don't expect your brain to do the things that it can't do. Let pen and paper do that. Cause it's a lot better for doing that.

And if you have had a hard time developing a planner habit in the past, then don't worry. I've got something coming up for that as well. In the meantime, you can support this show at

Also remember that you can join my discord. The link for that is in the show notes. Or you can find it on my website.

Discord is where I host weekly accountability sessions. Like the one that I'm recording this during it right now, it's happening right now. Not as you're watching, but as I'm recording, it's a great way to consistently get stuff done once a week.

Next time, I'm not exactly sure what I am going to be talking about, but it will probably be something more about attention or motivation or something combining the two of those things.

Until next time. byeeeee...


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