Purpose Hacks

How to get motivated: 13 ways to motivate yourself at work

Motivation tips for the unmotivated and disengaged at work. 

Don’t feel like working today? Procrastinating to get that assignment done? Feel annoyed at that peppy colleague who just seems to love doing everything? You’re not alone. Here are some tips for building motivation to get sh** done.

13 motivation tips

1. Don’t wait to feel motivated.

Psychology writer Oliver Burkeman notes in his book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking: “Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it? The problem, from this perspective, isn’t that you don’t feel motivated; it’s that you imagine you need to feel motivated…If you can regard your thoughts and emotions about whatever you’re procrastinating on as passing weather, you’ll realize that your reluctance about working isn’t something that needs to be eradicated or transformed into positivity. You can coexist with it. You can note the procrastinatory feelings and work anyway.”

2. Create a simple routine or habit to get motivated.

Just as sports players have pre-game routines that help signal to them that it’s time to play ball. Keep in mind that it takes longer to form a habit than we think: according to researcher Philippa Lally, it can take months to form a new habit. Leadership coach Kathy Archer adds, “We only have so much willpower in a day and it gets depleted. Create a habit where you don’t have to think or motivate yourself – and take the thinking out of it.”

3. Reduce any friction that stands in the way of motivation.

Jennifer Moss, cofounder of employee engagement platform Plasticity Labs  had a colleague who struggled to exercise and so slept in workout clothes and put his shoes at the end of the bed.

4. Practise the Comodoro Technique.

Where you work for 25 minutes without interruption, and then take a break.

5. Mix it up.

Robin Bender, founder/facilitator of MegaHealth says it’s important to bring a playful approach to our work, to find new ways of challenging ourselves, rather than slogging through the same old-same old in the same old way.

6. Talk to yourself,

says Archer. Be aware of the thoughts that make your brain wander, and talk yourself into doing a task, rather than out of it. She adds, “Assess your resistance. What are you afraid of? If you really did that task, where might it get you? Do you really want that? Are you properly resourced for it?”

7. Use what psychologists call “structured procrastination”,

where you turn to smaller, easier tasks even if that means ignoring the bigger task really needs our attention.

8. Practice gratitude.

Especially for people struggling with low hope, Moss recommends the nightly practice of gratitude journaling, noting that science shows that gratitude is very influential on motivation even for seemingly unrelated activities. Similarly, she encourages people to step back and look at cycles within organizations and society both to understand and reframe what is going on, and to also build resiliency by seeing how struggles have made them stronger.

9. Schedule self-care late in the day.

This is Bender’s favourite tip, she says, because it means that people always have something to look forward to, regardless of how their day has gone.

10. Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you going.

Instead consider walking meetings, drinking water, or simply getting up and walking around for a few minutes.

11. Feeling sick? Go home,

for the afternoon rather than going through the motions.

12. Come back to your passion and where you can have an impact,

Archer advises, rather than remaining stuck in the heavy weight of frustrations beyond your control.

13. Reward yourself after accomplishing a task.

This could be as small as allowing yourself to check social media after finishing a task.

Susan Fish is a writer/editor at Storywell, a company that helps individuals and organizations tell their story well. She has written for the nonprofit sector for almost two decades and loves a good story.

This article has been modified. View the original article in full on CharityVillage  where it was first published.


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Susan Fish

Susan Fish

Susan Fish is a writer/editor at Storywell, a company that helps individuals and organizations tell their story well. She has written for the nonprofit sector for almost two decades and loves a good story.

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