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We’ve all had those days: you’re plopped down in your chair and staring blankly at the computer screen, trying to push yourself into doing your thing, but it just doesn’t seem to work. You know you want to do your job, but you’re not quite sure how to start. A quick Google search then turns into watching a clip on YouTube, and the next thing you know, you’ve wasted the entire day doing everything else but what you’re supposed to be doing. You keep getting distracted, and you find yourself making excuses for your lack of effort.
Before you try to pull your hair all out, relax. You don’t want to suffer from a burnout, especially if you have trouble staying motivated. In fact, losing motivation at work happens even to the best of us from time to time. This doesn’t always have to be the case, though, and while it may be difficult to break out of the cycle, it’s not impossible to stop procrastinating and start doing. There are a few tips on how to motivate yourself when you’re in a rut.
Identify the goal
“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” - Steve Jobs
It’s so much easier to do something when you know what you want to accomplish. At the start of the workday, try writing down a list of goals and check on it from time to time to see how much work you’re getting done. At the end of the day or the week, check to see what tasks you’ve finished. You may find that it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you see those little check marks beside the tasks.
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” - George Eliot
When identifying what you want to do, start by making a checklist for the little things. Work can flow so much easier when you can track its progression. If you have a big project, don’t be intimidated, especially when you don’t know where to start. Instead, try to break it down into manageable steps, and then do those steps one by one. The next thing you know, you’re done!
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfilment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” - Jack Canfield
Remember your list of goals? Do you really need to do all of them? Try shaving off unnecessary things that won’t help you reach your primary goal. This will help you procrastinate less and give you more time to focus. Try to avoid using your phone or giving in to Googling something you’re suddenly so curious about. Once you’ve started a task, make an effort to stay in that state of mind, or you could lose your momentum and go back to square one of getting yourself motivated again.
Know your limits
“It's very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobody’s motivated 24/7. Even workaholics need a break every once in a while. Giving yourself a fixed break time and knowing when to call it a day may help you from overworking yourself. And if resting means you have to unwind or detach yourself from the demands of your work, then do it. Allotting rest time in between your goals can help you perform better in your succeeding tasks.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” - Amelia Earhart
Working hard on a big project can be terribly exhausting, especially when the payout isn’t anytime soon. And it can be demoralizing to work and work when there’s no reward in sight. Giving yourself a little pat on the back, maybe treating yourself to a bit of R&R every time you achieve one of your major goals can help a lot and motivate you to finish every goal you’ve set.
No more excuses
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.” ― Jordan Belfort
If you find yourself sitting around and waiting for inspiration to hit you, don’t. It’s not going to happen. Just tell yourself to stop making excuses and just do it! Do what you can, the rest will come later.
Additionally, sometimes we need to relearn how to love our job. We often forget what initially attracted and excited us about the company and about the role due to the workload. Try rereading your cover letter, and maybe you’ll be inspired by the same hopefulness you felt when you first started. Remind yourself why you do what you’re doing. Is it to support your family? Does your job fulfill your purpose in life? Once you have figured out what has drawn you to the job, write it down. You can also add a few reasons why you’re grateful to have the job you do.
Most importantly, if you’re feeling unmotivated, it may help to take a break from work. Whether you need a day or two to restore your focus or take seven vacation days to unwind, take the time you feel like you need until you think you’re ready to work again. You may find that when you get back to work, your motivation at work will be back, and you’ll be ready to finish those tasks in no time.