We all go through periods where we just don’t feel like tackling the work on our desk, no matter how important it is. There are plenty of reasons for this. It could be that the project is complex, and we feel anxious that we might get it wrong. It could be a personal situation that is making you feel lethargic and distracted. Or you simply might not be getting enough sleep.
Whatever the reason, there are consequences to dropping the ball. Less motivated employees are typically less productive, and this can have a negative impact on their salary, reputation or chances of promotion.
The good news is, there are some simple things you can do to jumpstart your motivation. Here are ten simple tips to get you started.
1. Do What you Enjoy
No matter how disengaged you feel, there will always be some aspects of the job that you enjoy. Focus on those things to retrain your “motivation muscle” and get into a more productive mindset.
2. Start With the End in Sight
Work is always more motivating when you can see what you have accomplished. Think back to your last successful project and remember how it felt to think, “I did that! That project turned out great!”
According to Setschedule’s CHRO, Shayna Goldburg, “Focusing on individual accomplishments shows your employees that what they do everyday matters, so we celebrate the small stuff every day. Even a single sale for our company is an accomplishment and is acknowledged by their manager, team, and coworkers. We have quarterly meetings that reflect the success of the company and individual contributions, and at the end of the year, we have a huge gala to celebrate what we have accomplished together.”
Unfortunately, most of us begin the day with a lengthy list of the things we have to do, rather than reflecting on the things we have achieved. One solution is to ditch the “to-do” list in favor of an “all done” list – a list of the tasks you have successfully completed. For extra motivation, keep the list in plain sight so you can always see just how much you take care off each day.
3. Change your Surroundings
The move towards open plan offices favors some employees at the expense of others, notably the introverts who are more productive when they can work in peace and solitude. If the busy office environment overwhelms you, see if you can find a new place to work. Perhaps there is a meeting room you can reserve for a couple of hours, or a quiet nook where you won’t be disturbed? Just changing the environment is often enough to kickstart your motivation.
4. Talk to the Office Enthusiast
Every office has a hardcore enthusiast who just loves their job. If you’re not feeling particularly motivated, go speak to them. Ideas and enthusiasm will flow from them, making it much easier for you to get started on a task.
5. Change the Deadline
It’s possible to provoke yourself into action by promising to have the work done by a certain day. For this trick to work you have to set a genuine deadline, with negative consequences if you don’t deliver on time. So tell your colleagues or manager that you absolutely will have something done by the specified deadline. You’ll feel like you owe them something, and the looming threat of breaking a promise should be enough to spur you on.
6. Have Someone Hector You
If you are a die-hard procrastinator, enlist the help of a tough and reliable friend to hector you into getting stuff done. It shouldn’t take much – just the odd chat or shaming email asking you why you haven’t started on that project yet. You could even use an automated email system to send admonishing e-mails to yourself, if none of your friends are good enforcers.
7. Work for Five Minutes
If you are struggling to get started on a task, try this simple trick. Set a timer for five minutes. Start working. Stop when the timer runs out. Repeat for another five minutes. And another. Working in very short bursts fools the brain into thinking that you’re not really working at all. But often, that little push is all that is needed to get you deeply committed to a task.
8. Read a Book
Reading any book that takes you out of your head space is a great way to fire up your motivation. This could be a self-help book, a business book or a work of fiction. Exposing yourself to new ideas gets the creative juices flowing and can make you think in different ways.
When you do get a surge of motivation, put it to good use. Work on tasks that aren’t due yet and stockpile some of your work for a rainy day. The next time you feel demotivated, you will have a bunch of completed or nearly completed tasks that you can run with while you work on your other motivational techniques.
10. Let It Go
If you really can’t find the motivation you need, let it go. Take a long lunch, go for a run, do something that makes you happy. Then promise yourself that you’ll get up early the next day and tackle whatever it is you’ve been avoiding. Sometimes, a mental break is all it takes to break a bad mood.
The main point is, don’t just sit at your desk fidgeting, feeling discouraged and worrying that you will never get things done. Motivation is fed by action. Get going and keep going, and you can soon put yourself in a state of perpetual motion.