The Blah Diary: Contemplation of Uninspired Moments
Do you ever feel like you don’t want to do anything?
You stare at the work you’re supposed to be doing but feel blah. You’re in a blank state—unmotivated or bored.
The same can happen at home. You’re just not up to much and don’t know what to do with yourself. You feel numb and indifferent.
I go through phases of this blah state. I just sit there and do nothing. Or worse, I start wasting time, mostly online, doing useless stuff.
I had a conversation with Matt, a wonderful and talented reader. After the exchange I decided to run an experiment and keep a blah diary. Basically I would document all the moments that I felt numb and try to understand where these moments are coming from and what I can do about them.
Today I want to share with you some of the main findings and encourage you to start observing your own moments.
Why use a blah diary
Being in a dull state every now and then is not a big deal, but if it goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, it becomes part of your routine. It turns into a habit that causes you pain for no reason other than it hasn’t been noticed and questioned. It can be quite disruptive and draining.
A diary will help you in the following progression.
Observation creates awareness.
When you start recording (observing) your activities, you become more aware of them.
I usually track my productive time for work purposes but it’s much harder to track your unproductive time. Once you start noticing your blah moments, you pay more attention.
Awareness questions the behavior.
When you become aware, you start questioning your feelings, actions and motivations.
Questioning changes you.
Writing and reflecting on your experiences will change your perspective.
After you dig into your unsupportive behavior you become even more aware. You realize that you can step out of the feelings that don’t serve you. Transformation is born out of your moment of choice.
How to create your own diary
The process is quite simple. Start a document on your computer or use a pen and paper. Monitor your behavior. When you feel blah, document the following:
- What were you doing?
- The time of the day
- What you felt like
- What would you rather be doing instead?
- How did you move past the low moment?
- What do you think caused it?
- How often have you experienced a similar situation?
Keep doing it for at least a couple of weeks. After a while you won’t need to write things down. You will notice the pattern and the feelings.
Main causes of blah moments
The causes I encountered are listed below. I believe they are the main culprits. Other triggers are derivatives of any of them.
Mental and emotional
This was the biggest one for me. To give you an example: I kept staring at my computer and dreading writing the gratitude journey article.
After a few days I realized that the main reason behind the struggle was that I felt the article was going to be too long. There was no way I’d be able to finish it on time.
The moment I came to the realization, I decided to split the post into two parts. That was it. I felt motivated to complete the first part and got it published on time.
Overwhelm is the feeling behind any of these thoughts: too many tasks and so little time, not knowing what to do, unrealistic expectations, and not having faith in one’s ability to act or things being out of control.
Overwhelm can be debilitating. It adds to your stress levels and drains your energy. You feel numb and avoid taking meaningful action.
2. Lack of clarity
There are three aspects of clarity that affect your attitude and behavior.
Unclear purpose: When you don’t know why you want to do something, it’s really hard for your mind and heart to commit to it. You can do it but it’s going to be an uphill battle with lots of blah interruptions.
Unclear outcome: You don’t know what the end is going to look like so you embark on a journey without a destination. It’s fun for a while then it gets confusing and overwhelming.
Unclear priorities: If you don’t know what’s important and what you need to get done, everything becomes fair game. And when everything is on equal footing, the easier and instantly gratifying action wins—always! Messing around online or chatting on Facebook will win over working on that book you’ve been meaning to write (from personal experience).
This is the mother of all struggles. It can be a deeply rooted cause of feeling unmotivated or incapable of starting a project or completing a task.
Everything that is unsupportive in our lives stems from one form of fear or another.
One of the simplest manifestations of fear is the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else instead of the task at hand—you fear you’re picking the wrong action. This feeling consumes you and you end up doing nothing.
Resistance and avoidance are the offspring of any of the above.
When our bodies are not functioning at an optimal level our mental faculties and emotional state suffer. The main areas are:
If you have a big meal, don’t expect miracles in focus and productivity. Your body is excellent in prioritizing. The blood will rush to aid in digestion which means you will feel sluggish and tired.
For me lunch is the biggest meal of the day. After eating I turn to a zombie. Unless I have something urgent to do, I don’t function well.
Caffeine or sugar withdrawal and dehydration will cause foggy states.
2. Tiredness and pain
Not getting enough sleep can make you groggy. I used to compensate with caffeine but that only lasted for a short while before I came down crashing.
I do have a bad back and neck so when the nerves are pinched I can’t get comfortable and that makes it impossible to do anything, let alone something inspiring or meaningful.
You won’t be able to motivate yourself when you don’t like your work space (or home environment) or you’re surrounded by distractions.
I can’t function if there is anything on my desk other than what I’m working on or if there is noise. It’s a big blah when I try to work at a coffee shop.
We all have our personal preferences. As you go through your diary you will gain more clarity about the environment that works for you.
The reasons I mentioned here will sound generic to you. As you dig into your own experiences you will find specific triggers which would fall under any of these causes.
I hope you get a chance to observe and reflect on your blah moments. This can be a powerful exercise in awareness and understanding your tendencies and challenges. I would love to hear from you about your experience.
In the next article we will get into practical action steps to move through the blah state.