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When don't feel like doing it... use your FIRE list!

focus goals motivation productivity Sep 19, 2021

Some days I… Just. Don’t. Feel. Like. Working. 

Those are the days I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV. The only problem is, if I don’t work… I don’t get paid and that’s not a consequence I enjoy.

So, whether you’re under a writing deadline or freelancing, even on the days you don’t want to do it, work is often the choice that’s going to yield the best results.

Here’s a tactic I’ve been using during days or times of the day (late afternoon) when focus and motivation are in short supply. 

I keep a FIRE LIST.

Mel, what the heck is a FIRE LIST?

The FIRE LIST is the list I use when I need to LIGHT A FIRE UNDER MY … chair. It’s a running list of tasks I keep adding to and I post it in a place I know I’ll look even when I’m feeling lazy. 

To get added to the FIRE LIST, a task must be:


Or at least work fun. I happen to really enjoy graphic design work, so graphics usually end up on this list.


An important task might be updating your website or updating your bio in all the places you have a profile. It might be the sort of important task you put off because you “don’t have time” to do it even though you think you should.


Whatever it is, I have done this task before. I don’t have to learn anything new and I don’t have any “fear of the unknown” that will make me want to procrastinate.


On those days when I don’t feel like working, I don’t do well switching from one 15 minute task to the next. I do best with projects that I can get involved in and work on for at least an hour. 

I often find that after doing an hour of work from the FIRE LIST, I’ve built up enough momentum to keep working on harder tasks. However, if that isn’t the case, I just keep going with the next FIRE task.

To go on the FIRE list, a task can’t be time sensitive in the “needs to be done ASAP” variety, but it CAN be time sensitive in the “some time this week” variety. The FIRE LIST tasks are all incorporated into my regular to-do list; they’re just also jotted down on a post-it on my computer. Even if I’m having a super motivated day, I’m might do something on the FIRE LIST if the deadline is approaching.


I hope your upcoming week is filled with focus and motivation, but if it isn’t, try starting your own FIRE LIST and see if it helps you light a fire…

You’ve got this!



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Want to learn a few more tricks to help you work when you don't feel like it? Listen to this podcast episode about how to bypass motivation.

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