Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness”

Gettin’ UP and Gettin’ Going – Part I

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Terminal Laziness Disorder?


© Phillip Martin

Thankfully, there’s no such thing as Laziness Disorder – at least not to the extent that it will kill you.

Those of us who struggle with ACTIVATION might beg to differ, however.

It’s regrettable that there is so little help for us out there, but there you have it!

I believe that a big part of the reason why is that so little is understood about the marked contrast between two types of human behavior:

  1. our “automated” behaviors  – which are scarcely available to consciousness, and
  2. our highly conscious, “volitional” behavior.

To make things even tougher, ACTIVATION seems to occupy some netherworld between the two states — and I promise you that it is NOT simply a matter of “wanting to badly enough.”

Therapists, doctors (and coaches) who work with ADD and EFD (Executive Functioning Disorders, broader in scope) could probably retire if they had a dollar for every time they’ve heard the following words:

“I just can’t seem to MAKE myself . . .”

Volitional control

Volitional control seems to be a result of a decision-making process of some sort —  but there’s a huge gap between deciding to do something and actually DOING it. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little understanding of that sad fact, and even less help.

Troll the internet and you will see hundreds of articles from the “Just DO it” camp, and practically none that really help those of us who struggle with activation to DO.

Oh sure, there are a bazillian tips and tricks for motivation, for dealing with so-called “procrastination,” for setting and reaching goals, staying in action, building the getting it done habit, and for a great many other related flavors of behavior coming from similar paradigms — each of which is PART of the picture, of course.

But don’t kid yourself that they’re all there is to it!

How Come?

If you want the rationale and background, click the [dark grey] links to the articles above before you go any further.

Don’t believe some of the otherwise excellent “doing” blogs when they insist that the idea that we all work differently is a myth.  NOT SO.

  • Yes, “cars” drive in a similar fashion, but nobody expects to drive an old automatic with a teeny engine the same way they’d drive a just-off-the-showroom-floor 6-speed stick-shifter, right?
  • I always say that we each need to “learn to drive the very brain we were born with – even if it’s taken a few hits in the meantime.”™
  • If you want to understand how YOU work, you have to take an unvarnished look at what happens when you don’t.
    (I can help with that one-on-one, by the way)

EVEN if you think you already “get it” where activation struggles are concerned, if you are still struggling with getting up and getting going, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. But don’t let “procrastination” continue to ruin your life, either.

Once you’ve read to the bottom of this article, if you haven’t read them already  — or if you read them long enough ago you can’t remember much of anything about them — make it a point to go back for the introductory articles anyway.

You’ll find duplicates of the most relevant internal links under “Related Content” below (95% of the over 400 posts and pages on this blog are set up like that, btw)

In my [extensive] experience, until you understand “the WHY,” you are highly likely to decide that some of the techniques are too simplistic to try (because you will probably find it difficult-to-impossible to believe that they’re not just a bunch of coaching hooey – they’re THAT simple)

I promise you they work –
but NOTHING works until you try it! 

And nothing continues to work unless you try it repeatedly. You wouldn’t expect a headache remedy you took today to work for your next headache, would you?

Your brain needs your help to build action neuro-links — and that means being willing to take just a BIT of initial action, not simply trying it on mentally as you read the information for the first time (or even second or third!)

RELATED Post: Changing a Habit to change you LIFE!

Be sure to checkout the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

What to Expect

In this article I’ll begin with a list of ten actions, habits and activation assists that I’ve used successfully in my own life and witnessed being helpful in the lives of my clients – along with as brief an explanation of the first three tips as I can manage and still get the job done.

  • I’ll have to chunk this article into sections to keep it from being way too long but, believe it or not, I hear as many frustrations stemming from multi-part articles as I do about articles that are too long.
  • I need to attempt to split the difference, as I remind us all of us of that old saw about the impossibility of pleasing all of the people all of the time.
  • Look for these Activation articles on Wednesdays, when I post most of my, more comprehensive, Series articles.

I’ll expand on many of these concepts in a more comprehensive manner in future Activation articles, beginning with the ones that generate the greatest number of comments or questions — so ring in below if you want what amounts to free coaching (and/or you want me to keep the activation series at the top of my extensive to-do list).

Whether you comment or not, following this Top-Ten introduction will be a few unusually short articles to expand on some of the points, once a week, also on Wednesdays.

Unusually short?  Hey, if you have to ask I know you’re new here.  Regular readers already know that I am the reining monarch of the long post!

  • I’ll get back to securing my throne soon enough.
  • While I’m still trying to make my new digs into an effective work and living space, I want to reactivate my previous momentum as I let everyone know I’m back (so you’ll get used to looking for content from after little more than silence since Christmas)
  • I STILL need a ton of time to finish “moving in,” organize everything to streamline functionality, get back to business full-time and play a bodacious game of catch up, so I can’t continue to spend the hours I used to spend producing content.

(For the curious only: click HERE for where I’ve been and why)

Different Strokes and Different Strokers

As I cautioned in an earlier (and related) multi-part article, Ten Best Practices for Habit Creation, keep an open mind as you read, but tweak appropriately for your own lives, with a realistic assessment of your own functional challenges.

The reality is that one size never fits very many people particularly well.  Try it out, identify the glitches and tweak.  It’s the only way.  But DO “try it out.”  How else will you discover what needs tweaking?

A Simple List

Some of you have let me know that it helps you stay focused to have “a cognitive map” before I launch into content.  Nothing lends itself better to that suggestion than a top-ten list. So, I’ll say a bit more about the first three of the ten concepts and tips as the article continues, but here’s where we’re going:

  1. Medication can help, but not by itself
  2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must
  3. Write it down, write it down, write it down
  4. Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
  5. Feed your head
  6. Go like Glenda
  7. Stay off the Slide
  8. Best breathing for best focus
  9. Cross it off, cross it off, cross it off
  10. RATE IT – both before and after

So, without further explanation, let’s get right to it!

TEN Top Tips to Activate ACTIVATION

arrowgold1. Medication can help, but not by itself

If you have been told (or suspect) that you need medication, don’t let the opinions of the popular press or neurodiversity-ignorant bloggers and vloggers scare you away from investigating your options with an open mind.

Some of us need glasses for focus, some need medication – same concept. If it’s a [neuro]chemical problem, it may well have a chemical solution. It could be worth a shot.

  • If you are lucky enough to be one of the many medication responders and there is a medication available, why on earth would you want to make things harder than they have to be?  It makes no sense to refuse to even TRY it.
  • Just make sure that your expectations (and those of your loved ones) are realistic.  You won’t turn into a dervish just because you popped a pill!

The difference in my own willingness to attempt much of anything at all on medication and off is remarkable. Meds, for me, make activation possible — but they don’t turn me into Ms. Eager Beaver all by themselves.  I have to remember to use the following tips and tricks myself.

arrowgold2. Avoid shoulds and should-ers – and know why you must

Stop believing what people say you should be able to do.


[noun] the way something is supposed to occur “when things are functioning correctly,” regardless of appropriateness to the current situation or individual;

[verb] communicating a personal world-view as if it were an undisputed standard of behavior; covert, indirect and manipulative – used subconsciously when the communicator is unwilling to express his or her preferences in an open and observable fashion; designed to enforce compliance through shame without taking ownership of the dynamic, remaining unconscious as a protective mechanism

[internalized] an adopted standard that is not in alignment with a person’s true values.

[used unconsciously] a nasty habit of language that keeps life small and mean

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, 1996-2001; from my upcoming ADD Coaching Glossary

Nobody reacts positively to ultimatums – and shoulds are actually thinly veiled ultimatums:

  • Do it the way I want you to or I won’t believe you’re really trying.
  • Do it the way everybody else does it and if you’re still struggling, “everybody” knows that you’re simply not trying hard enough, you lazy thing.  Get off your “buts” or else!

It’s even worse when we “ultimatum” ourselves It creates unnecessary pressure, shuts us down and activates low level anxiety for most of us.  It kicks those of us who already struggle with anxiety into an anxious rumination spiral.

Should-ing on ourselves makes it all the more difficult to activate because we are fearful of doing things the “wrong” way. Do your best to keep the next two bullet points at the forefront of your mind:

  • You are entitled to do things any way that works for you, even if you are the only person in the universe who does it the way you need to do it to get it done.
  • I want to encourage you to find what works, not what is supposed to work.

arrowgold3. Write it down, write it down, write it down

source: clipartbest

Begin any task that you seem to be unable to “make” yourself do with a list of the action steps, broken down as small as possible.

To reiterate what I told you several years ago in ADD and Time: 5 System Basics, More than any other system basic, this one tends to generate “push back” — almost as if the very idea of making a list were an affront to the intelligence of the entire human race.

No, it is NOT a waste of time you need to be using to DO instead of documenting what you are about to do!

If you could jump right into DOING you wouldn’t have an Activation problem.  Priming action with a list of sub-tasks is one of the most effective ways around it.

No, I don’t think you’re too dumb to recall what you’re up to without a list.

  • The list is not to help you remember what you’re supposed to do – it’s to chunk the decision-making phase into a consolidated portion of the task so that you can avoid decision-making mid-task.
  • It also serves to protect you from having to remember or rethink before you can reactivate after every interruption or distraction that will surely plague you like locusts.
    (Stay tuned for an article about maintaining an Interruption Log – which is another handy “write it down” assist that does wonders for Activation struggles by side-stepping the decision process)

Deciding what to do – or what to do in what order – is boggle-bait, and can bring on activation struggles all by itself.  The next thing you know you’ll be updating your FaceBook status, clicking and commenting away simply to avoid feeling bad about what you can’t seem to make yourself do!

As I told you in several earlier articles

the further away from the moment of need the decision is made

  • the easier it is to make . . .
  • and the fewer the distractions that will disable you.

Front-end the decision-making process for any task you can’t seem to make yourself do.  And write it down, write it down, write it down. On paper.

Handwriting uses a different part of the brain and activates different pathways than typing it into one or the other of our devices.

And it feels less like “doing” so is less likely to set you up for activation agita.

Besides, most of us can follow simple “directions” fairly well – one at a time!

Let’s be REALLY Clear

These ten “tips and tricks” are designed, primarily, to jettison the dead weight – those things that are working against you. Most of them assume you already have a clear vision of where you’re going, yet “something” is keeping you from “gettin’ up and gettin’ on it.”

In the next point I will touch on a few of the things that stop us from taking action on things we want (or need) because we are not adequately prepared to take them on. I’ll be going into it in more detail in the future.

So keep coming back.  If you are stuck and agonizing, this information really could change your life.

Part II Coming Up: Laziness Vaccinations

  • Distinguish Task Anxiety and begin there
  • Feed your head
  • Go like Glenda

© 2014, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”

No TIME to read all this stuff? Want more help?

man-on-phoneOnce my own life recovers from a protracted repair deficit situation where even the ability to use the systems I have put in place was taken from me, watch for the announcement of an upcoming 12-week TeleClass on Modular Success Systems.

It will help you sort through a great many of the “functional modules” so that you can design an action plan guaranteed to be easier than what most of you are currently attempting to work with.

Classes are a much cheaper alternative to hiring my personal coaching services (and the FIRST time I offer a new class is always your least expensive option by far!). As always, class size will be small to allow for personal attention, so don’t miss the announcement if you want to make sure you sign up before the first class fills.

If you already know that this is something you are going to want to be part of, let me know in a comment below and I’ll make sure you have advanced notice (don’t forget to fill in your name and email on the comment form or I won’t be able to contact you).

Meanwhile, keep reading as often as you can! Until my own life recovers, I won’t have the time to post as often as I have in the past, but there is A LOT already on the site. Don’t waste this free resource – and I’d REALLY appreciate it if you would help me out by taking a few moments from your own life to spread the word about the blog and the upcoming TeleClass, OK?

To double the benefit, whenever you read a new article, make it a habit to pick at least one of the Related Content links to read at the same time (embedded in the text and duplicated in the Related Links at the bottom of every post).

If you’ll “like” or comment after the pages you’ve read, it will help you keep track and will point others to posts you find especially helpful (as well as helping ME to know what you want me to write about).

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time & Task Management Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!). 

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above or below)

LinkLists of other supports for this article – on

Related Articles ’round the net

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links and content — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

7 Responses to Top Ten Tips to Combat “Laziness”

  1. Layne Farley says:

    At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, after
    having my breakfast coming over again to read additional news.


  2. Bookmarking this one for a read next time the laziness hits me! Sadly it has been a frequent visitor lately… xx


  3. Thanks for this series of articles on Activation. I think this is one of my biggest problems. And what I find most intriguing is that I struggle to get activated even on things that I adore doing…. such as playing guitar or writing songs.
    Looking forward to all your articles on this and hoping to finally be able to cross that bridge from Idea to Action….
    As we all know, once you get started, it’s fine and Completion of anything gives a huge kick.

    Madelyn, really appreciate your insights so much.
    Warmly Jacinta Noonan
    ADHD Coach – nice to hear that you trained Barbara and David from ADDCA.


    • What a lovely comment, Jacinta – hearing that you find the content useful is music to my ears.

      Don’t feel alone – activation quicksand doesn’t discriminate. NONE of us are immune.

      Thomas Leonard frequently said that “Information is the booby prize.” We can’t do much until we understand what we need to do, but those of us who are coaches seem disappointed when we can’t magically rise above former struggles simply because we understand what’s going on.

      Um, no. We just have a bigger bag of tricks and tools. I struggle “making myself” use them too. ADD will always be ADD. It’s easier, but that’s not the same as EASY.

      A thought: Since you have trouble activating for things you adore, there’s probably something else going on (or going on AS WELL).

      Take a look at the TransitionTamer Series (I’ve published a LinkList – bottom menubar to locate it — read the first one for context).
      Subsequent EDIT: nevermind – I see I included it among the Related Content at the end of the article above.

      I suspect you may have more than a touch of transition difficulty — possibly with the phase I refer to as “the dreaded gap” — just a hunch – can’t say how it came to me, it simply did.

      My own biggest Transition struggle is with the “transitioning out of” phase. I never seem to want to move on, even if I find what I’m doing at the time tedius, and love the next thing on my list.

      btw – why aren’t we BOTH in B-E-D?! I’m exhausted, yet here I sit – typing! Transitioning difficulties perhaps? ::grin::

      Thanks again for stopping by – and for taking the time to leave me a comment. xx, mgh


  4. Jocelyn DiChiara says:

    Just had husband diagnosed after learning of his infidelities for 4 years!! Painful time but learning about ADD has ooened our eyes to so many of the issues in our narriage znd for my husband!! OMG! He gas the hyperfocused kind. I want to add his email here too so he receives your articles!
    [hubby’s email was here – mgh deleted so the autospammers couldn’t grab it]

    This is so helpful!!!! Thank you!!



    • Thank YOU for the lovely comment (and I admire your courage – hang in there, it will be rocky but it WILL get better, even if only because NOW you know what you’re really dealing with. Search for “couples” using the box at the top of the site — they might help a bit too.

      Re: husband’s email — *I* can’t add it, but you can. Just sign up again using HIS email — even better to have him do it so he doesn’t think he’s being spammed when notifications start showing up in his inbox.

      Keep coming back and clicking around – my LinkLists (bottom/lighter grey menubar at top of site) organize articles by categories so you can see what might be something you need relatively easily and click to read them.

      As the sho-biz folks say, “Courage Camille!”



And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: