How To Be More Productive (Coffee Is Not The Only Answer!)

Want some productivity tools for doing the “I-Don’t-Wanna-Do-Ables”? These tools are helpful for both adults and kids. Read on…

“But I don’t want to!”

These are now my 3 year old son Ari’s favorite words!

“But I don’t want to!”

These words are now regularly being spoken whenever I ask Ari to do something highly necessary and very important.How To Be More Productive (No, More Coffee Is Not The Answer)

My Son’s Major Fodder For A “But I don’t want to!” Rebuttal:

  • Brush your teeth.
  • Go to sleep.
  • Take your bath.
  • Eat your dinner.
  • Put away your toys.

When Ari’s not saying “But I don’t want to!” to these essential requests, he’s responding with a 3-syllable version of “Why?”

As in…. “Whhhhyyyyyyyy?”

This week I began answering Ari in a way which is “75% self help author words” and only 25% mommy filler:

“You have to do this thing for the greater good.”

Yes, I actually said those words to my 3 year old son –  while holding a Spider-man toothbrush in my hand.

“Greater good?” he repeated.

“Yes, greater good. What this means is…” I paused to find the right, simple words to explain this concept to a 3 year old.

be more productive“What ‘greater good’ means is,” I continued on, “well, it means there’s something greater which happens later – if you do this thing now. Like with brushing your teeth now – the greater good is not getting cavities later.”

“And going to sleep now?” he asked.

“The greater good is that tomorrow you will be well rested so you have more energy to play with your friends and so your body can grow bigger and stronger.”

“A greater good,” he repeated. “I like the sound of that.”

He reached for his Spider-man toothbrush and strawberry octopus toothpaste and merrily began brushing.

“Yes, the ‘greater good’ is always good to keep in mind,” I said, happy that this concept had made an impact on Ari.

I continued onward, encouraged by Ari’s newfound enthusiasm for doing the I-don’t-wanna-do-able.

“In fact, it’s often the very things which you do not want to do, which are the most important to do.”

I don’t know if this last sentence had any impact on Ari, but it stalked me for the entire next day – starting with first thing in the morning when my “to do list” reminded me to “to do” myself on over to the gym.

Yes indeedie, often it’s the very things which you do not want to do, which are the most important to do.

This sentence applies to everything on my list of Personal List Of “I-Don’t-Want-To-Do-Ables!” 

  • Organize and clean home.
  • Work on tax stuff.
  • Read and sign some complicated legal papers for my business.
  • Do the laundry.
  • Have a “courageous dialogue” with a friend/colleague/client/my beau
  • Learn new technology for making/editing videos.

When I look at this list, I can clearly see how my biggest opportunities for growth and happiness are consistently being preceded by a loud, whiny “But I don’t want to.”

I know I am not alone.

From 3 year olds to 103 year olds, all of us regularly cry out a loud battle call of “But I don’t want to” right before an important inner-battle is to be fought – and hopefully won.

Want some helpful Motivational Tools to inspire both kids and yourself to do those dreaded I-Don’t-Wanna-Do-Ables?

Here’s one from Infomercials – which links back to reminding your child of the “greater good.”


Infomercials love to cash in on a little something called “cognitive dissonance.” They link their product to specific long term goals/core values – various things which represent the “greater good.”

They do this linking in a series of quick questions – thereby getting you to nod your head “yes, yes, yes.”

For example:

“Want to be thin?” “And want to be happier?” “Plus want to be a love-magnet?” “ And want to make 10 times the money in half the time?”

There’s a big reason why Infomercials ask you a series of quick questions in a row. It’s because there’s a psychological belief that after you’ve said “yes” many times to wanting these things which are linked to their product  – and you don’t buy their product – you create “cognitive dissonance” in yourself – because you’re indirectly telling yourself …..hmmmm….perhaps you don’t want to be thin, happier, a super-wealthy love-magnet – because you didn’t buy that product.

People feel twitchy when they feel “cognitive dissonance.”

Basically, people don’t like to  feel a big open windy gap between what they WANT and what they’re DOING.

Okay – so how can you use this Infomercial Motivational Tool to motivate your child to take a brush their teeth?

Simply ask the child a series of question – linked to the “greater good.” You can ask them questions with a “no” as well as “yes” – just ask them questions which have a greater good you know they’ll agree to wanting.

For example:

“Do you want stinky, yucky teeth?” Do you want painful cavities? Do you want awesome breath? Do you want to show your teeth you love them?” After you’re done listing a series of questions which are linked to the “greater good” – then say, “Well, then,  if you want all those things, I guess you want to brush your teeth!”

You can use these Infomercial Motivational Tools on yourself as well!

Plus, I have more helpful Motivational Tools  – for us adults – to inspire doing The I-Don’t-Wanna-Do-Ables!

I’ve crystallized a new powerful mantra – which I’ve personally been using – one inspired by the words I told Ari – which I then tweaked one more time –  so the mantra is now “100% self help author words”-  with no mommy filler.

My mantra to help me obliterate a “But I don’t want to”: 

“I’m excited to do this now – for the greater good  – so I can grow into a greater self  – and live a greater life!”

I know this mantra to be true. I know that I need to break through each and every one of my self-limiting “But I don’t want to” rejoinders – becaKaren Salmansohn use if I don’t, then my life will remain safe, dull, small, limited.

Next time you find yourself muttering a “But I don’t want to” –feel free to mutter my mantra right back.

I’d personally love to hear about what your personal “But I don’t want to!’s” might be – and your methods for dealing with ‘em! Please share below – even if you don’t want to!


What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read my essay?  B Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool!

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