I'll be honest. I've spent quite a bit of my life just "biding my time."
That's exactly why it's taken me over two years of active writing to finally finish my first full-length novel. I've spent days sleeping till 10 (or later), eating, watching television, surfing Facebook, or just simply staring out the window under the impression that I am technically "writing."
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not lazy. In fact, I'm perfectly capable of being a relatively, and sometimes even overly, active adult. When I set my mind to something, I will push myself to the brink of literal exhaustion just to get it done. Painting my living room before the new TV arrives? Check. Two-tones in the kitchen, dining room and office, complete with chair railing as an anniversary gift while my better half is on a business trip for 3 days? Check. That 2x4 bookshelf I kept saying I was going to build completed in a day, without so much as even a predetermined design? Check. I mean, come on. I'm an author, which automatically makes me a visionary (right?) and if I get an image in my head of how something is supposed to be then I will not stop until I'm done (to the expense of all those involved, I assure you).
But most of the time, I don't really have those spurts of determination. Working from home full-time, without a supervisor hovering over you or a publisher breathing a dead-line down your neck (most of the time), takes an incredible amount of discipline. Not to mention that, as a curse of the trade, you are naturally disconnected from "the real world." It is not unusual at all, in fact, to spend days without leaving my own house or so much as gracing the outside world with my social-media presence. In fact, attempting to assimilate into "normal" humanity for any period of time whilst in the midst of writing a work of fiction can actually be detrimental to an author's cause.
"Did I just make a trip to Walmart for milk in sweat pants and a t-shirt? Why yes, yes I did."
Now, that having been said, just because it is perfectly within human nature not to be in any particular hurry (unless you suffer from some strange anxiety or a Type A personality) does not make it ok. In fact, there are many things that are well within the realms of human nature that are not usually a good idea, but that's a post for another day.
So, here goes, my suggestions on how to "be productive" when all you really want to be is not:
It seems like such a simple thing, really. Get up. Take a shower. Get dressed. How hard is that? But on days where all you really want to do is lie in bed and watch reruns of Jericho on the iPad, being fresh and reasonably presentable is the farthest thing from your mind. Trust me on this one, though, as this is perhaps the single most "motivating" thing you can possibly do for your psyche. Taking a shower naturally wakes you up, and getting dressed tells your body that you are ready to face the day (as if you were about to walk out the door to go to work). Sweatpants and a t-shirt don't count, either. (Sweatpants are scientifically proven to make you depressed.) Get dressed as if you really were headed to a 9-5, though it could be for a super cool, laid back company like Google, not a law office. Jeans and a "The Force is Strong With This One" t-shirt are totally acceptable.
Spend Some Time Outdoors
A lack of Vitamin D3, which we get our highest doses of from natural sunlight, causes fatigue. So, first thing in the morning, go outside. Walk the dog (even if it's around the front yard) or have your cuppa out on the balcony. Go check the mail. Whatever you have to do to get your daily dose, sunlight is actually needed for life. (Your 4th grade science teacher was actually right. Imagine that.)
Ok, so this one is a little bit tougher. The vast majority of people don't actually enjoy (at least the thought) of exercise. However, notice I didn't specifically say "exercise." All I said was "move." Do something each day to get your blood flowing, whether it involves walking the dog around the neighborhood or three miles on the treadmill. Swim. Hike. Power walk the mall. Play volleyball. Beat your high score on the Wii. Whatever you enjoy, just do it. Your heart, your health, and your head will all thank you for it. (Plus, if you do it first thing in the morning, you'll have even more incentive to go take a shower and get dressed.)
Establish a Routine
This doesn't have to be anything crazy. Don't lay out a detailed schedule that says you are going to do such and such at this and this time every day. The problem with rigid schedules is that you won't always stick to them, then you become overwhelmed and give up. Instead, establish only (roughly) what time you will get up, eat each meal, and go to bed every day. Then sprinkle in the other things you want to get done in between these times. If you're feeling adventurous, add a to-do list. Something as simple as a white-board with a few jotted tasks. You'd be amazed at the sense of accomplishment you can get by being able to mark a line through 'get a haircut' or 'clean off your desk'. The brilliant part about establishing routines is that eventually they become habit, which means that even when you are having the worst days you will still subconsciously get up and eat breakfast, take a shower, or unload the dishwasher, and accomplishing these simple acts will help keep you from slipping even deeper into a funk.
Do Something You Love
Last, but certainly not least, do something that makes your life worth getting out of bed for. Every. Single. Day. Plan something, whether it is the same thing every day or something different, that gets you excited about facing your day. Maybe it's a dinner date with your significant other. Maybe it's a game night with friends. Maybe it's the latest episode of Supernatural. But each and every day pick something that you know you will be able to look forward to that day. Something that you love, enjoy doing, and are passionate about. Something that you wake up thinking about in the morning. If you don't know what that one thing is--that one hobby or healthy activity that completely engulfs you--then go find it. Because in the end doing something, being proactive no matter what it is you end up accomplishing, means absolutely nothing if it can't involve something that makes you happy.