How to Just Do It

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on September 27, 2022 # Lifestyle

I had no idea what to write this article about, and I procrastinated for a week. Every time I sat down to write or brainstorm it, I would stare at my computer for five minutes, give myself an excuse like, “I’m not feeling inspired right now,” and I’d pull out my phone for distraction. I did that for a week with no progress (but I finished reading my book! I beat levels on my mobile game!), so when I came back, I came from a different angle. The angle: it doesn’t matter if I’m “inspired,” I need to get it done.

So, here we land on today’s topic: how to find inspiration, how to stop procrastinating, and how to just do it.

Option one for me was to put away distractions. At my home office, I have a phone with Instagram installed, an iPad with two screens full of apps, a husband sitting next to me, and a small dog who always wants a pet. Good grief. When I got my second wind of productivity, I put my phone and iPad on our faraway kitchen table, I pulled up to my computer while my husband was playing golf, and I let my dog sit in my lap. I pet her with one hand and typed on the keyboard with the other – a small sacrifice. Some distractions are worth it.

Option two, when I’m feeling particularly unmotivated, is caffeine. I’m not a fan of coffee, but I love hot tea, and I’m very into drinking matcha right now. When I get caught in a cycle of distractions, I’ll make myself a cup and feel my mind switch to its immediate concentration. There might be a little placebo effect in that immediacy, but there’s also some science: caffeine increases dopamine, and dopamine increases concentration. Additionally, I spend the five minutes it takes to make the cup of hot tea or matcha thinking about the task in front of me. When I step away from my writing desk, ideas tend to snail their way into my head. Win/win.

Option three, get into it. Waiting around to “feel inspired” or to be in a “creative mood” is a recipe for inaction. I learned that lesson after almost a year of stalling my work on a fiction book that [I finally finished and] is coming out early next year. I learned the slow way: for me, inspiration comes when I’m already doing the work. So, instead of waiting for it to strike you at just the right moment, force the inspiration to come and force yourself to do that work.

Option four is to look at what other people are going for inspiration. In the instance that I know the topic I want to write about (“something about mental health” or “something about productivity”), it’s sometimes good to see what other people are saying. A lot of the time, I’ll read an article about a topic I’m interested in; think to myself, “that’s terrible advice,” or “I have something to add to the discussion,” and launch my articles from the same metaphorical dock. It’s not worthwhile if you go in a parallel direction to other people, so this is only a useful tip if you’re able to add your own twist.

Option five is to just walk away. Maybe your timing is off, your idea grew stale, or you need to go back to the drawing board. When I’ve exhausted the aforementioned four options, and I’m still not feelin’ it, I’ll take a big step back to reassess. That could look like anything from making myself another cup of matcha and reflecting while I do it, putting it on my to do list, sleeping on it, or riding my handcycle around my neighborhood. There is some validity in not feeling “inspired,” as long as it’s not your excuse for days, weeks, or months on end. Like it was for me.

I finally finished this article, and I used a version of every option to do it: I left my phone in the kitchen, but then I got distracted by an email notification. I drank matcha, then I used my caffeine energy to start a load of laundry and fold some blankets. I looked to other people but got distracted by friends’ Instagram stories. I walked away to call my dad, but then I got distracted by the time we hung up and forgot to come back to it. As long as you meet your deadlines, it’s okay to procrastinate a little bit. Give yourself some grace in the process and figure out what works for you. See you next time!

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.