How to feel motivated at work – 15 top tips
How to feel motivated at work is a question that I get asked often. You only have to take a look at Facebook on a Sunday evening or Monday morning to see lots of your friends feeling the pain of the end of the week.
1. Remember why you took the job
Why did you take the job in the first place? Dig deep! Was it?…
- Bonus structure
- Working hours
- Career development
- Great company to work for
- Travel opportunities
- Great boss
- Better than your last, dead-end role
2. Create a mantra
Using the above reasons (or one of your own), create a mantra of positivity. Keep the reason you started working there at the forefront of your mind and repeat it as often as necessary to help your demotivated head rise happily from your duvet.
3. Write a positive list
What are the great things about the place you work? Write a list. It's simple but effective. Put the list somewhere you can see it easily when you don't feel motivated at work. This could be in your purse/ wallet, by the kettle or near your bathroom mirror. Anywhere that will jolt you out of doom and gloom.
4. Tidy desk, tidy mind
Many people don't feel motivated at work when their work area is cluttered and disorganised. Again, it's a simple trick but if you have a tidy and organised work area, you will feel better. I promise! Try it.
5. Change your focus
It is easy to focus on the things you don't want to do at work. Think about the things that you enjoy doing. What flicks your switch? If you focus on the tasks you enjoy, it will be easier to see the negative aspects as a small step towards reaching your objectives. Even the worst jobs have positive aspects. Dig deep!
6. Have to versus want to
Like the above, changing your mindset from “I have to do this” to “I want to do this” will quickly turn around demotivation to motivation. What are the things you HAVE to do? Write them down, then write a positive aspect to turn them into things you WANT to do. For example:
You might have to write a boring report. Once completed, the report will ensure that the key stakeholders within the business have all the information they need to drive a project forwards that you want to be involved with.
You might have to commute 2 hours to get to work and you dread it each morning but if you fill what time with something you want to do, it will feel more productive and time will pass quicker. Maybe that's watching a downloaded movie, reading a book you never seem to have the time to start, learning something new or surfing the net to plan what you are going to do at the weekend/ on holiday/ buy.
You might have to sit through boring meetings that you hate but if you change your focus to setting yourself a challenge within the meeting to entertain yourself you will find that you want to be in attendance. That could be challenging yourself to identify ways in which you will never be that boring in meetings you facilitate. It could be that you count the number of times the host says “Yeah” or “But” or you could simply focus on the fact that the boring meetings are the worst part of the job, so everything by comparison looks peachy.
Whatever you have to do, aim to create a plus point about the situation so that you want to do it.
7. Energy zappers
It's easy to feel demotivated if you are knackered! If you don't have enough energy to get out of bed or get through the day at work, then something needs to change. What is depleting your energy? Is it lack of sleep? Too much caffeine or sugary foods/ drinks that give you a rollercoaster of energy ups-and-downs throughout the day? Whatever it is – change it!
8. Don't sweat the small stuff
The chances are, you enjoy the actual job role deep down but something is bugging you, which makes you feel less motivated at work. What is it? If you identify the reason(s) then it's easier to come up with a solution. I have coached many employees where the root of their lack of motivation was due to something not directly related to the actual job role. Some irritations I have come across are:
- Annoying co-workers
- Smelly co-workers!
- Environment too hot/ too cold
- Environment too quiet/ too noisy
- Transport too crowded
- Menial tasks
- Lack of instruction/ understanding of a task
- Coffee/ canteen food awful. Seriously!
You can change these! Talk to someone who can help. Don't bottle things up. If you do, before you know it, small annoyances escalate to major issues in your head unnecessarily.
9. Incentivise yourself
If you are really struggling to feel motivated at work or having a wrestle with your negative conscious before you get there, think of something you can implement to incentivise yourself. That could be something as simple as picking up your favourite coffee on the way to work. Maybe treating yourself to a lovely lunch on a Wednesday if you suffer from mid-week woes, taking a walk in the park or going for a drink after work on a particular day. Whatever you choose, plan it into your week so that you have something to look forward to.
10. Small steps
Set yourself small, bite-sized goals at work, especially for the tasks you don't enjoy doing. Sometimes focussing on the bigger picture can feel overwhelming. If you break down tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, you will feel more accomplished and satisfied.
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11. Reward yourself
Once you have achieved your goals, reward yourself. Remember the boring meeting from earlier? Why not choose a reward to look forward to at the end of the meeting? It could be anything from taking a break, having a cup of tea with a dunky-biscuit or even doing your favourite task straight after. Even the most boring of meetings will be tolerable if you have something to look forward to at the end.
12. Talk to your boss
If you really don't feel motivated at work, talk to your boss. Don't be embarrassed or worried. Your boss will likely appreciate that you want things to change and that you are not ready to throw the towel in. Talk to your boss if you are feeling demotivated due to:
- Too busy – if you are overwhelmed by your workload, talk to your boss about tasks that could be delegated. Being busy if often a status symbol. We feel valued if we are constantly been given additional tasks that our co-workers haven't been selected to do. Set your ego aside and state that you will be more productive and contribute more to the business if you focus on key areas.
- Not busy enough – maybe you need more of a challenge? Great! If you are bored due to lack of things to do, ask for more responsibility.
- You need training – often employees don't feel motivated at work because there are tasks they don't feel they have the expertise to complete successfully. This is the time to speak up and ask for support. Don't worry about this. Every boss worth his/ her weight in gold wants their employees to do well and not be stressed because of inadequate training.
- Work is too easy – as above if the work is too easy and you are bored, ask your boss for a new challenge or more responsibility. They may not be able to change things immediately but at least you have let them know that when there is an opportunity, you are ready to step up.
13. Talk to HR
If you can't talk with your boss or if indeed, your boss is the reason you don't feel motivated at work, talk to someone confidentially that can support you. In a mid-large organisation, the typical route would be to talk to HR. They will be able to provide a sounding board for your angst and should be able to offer advice, confidentially. You never know, maybe you aren't the only one that's feeling this way!
14. Light at the end of the tunnel
Maybe you hate your job but it's essential that you perform this role to climb the career ladder? If that's the case, keep your end goal in mind. Keep your focus on everything you are learning and how you are developing to eventually secure a more senior role. If you keep in your head that whatever you are doing right now is taking you one step closer to where you want to be eventually, you will feel motivated at work even on the toughest of days.
15. The last resort
If you really can't feel motivated at work no matter what steps you take to jump out of bed with a smile on your face, then it could be time to move on. Assess everything that's positive about your current role and company before fantasising that the grass is greener on the other side. Make a list of pros and cons before leaving your current company. It would be a bit of a nightmare if you left only to discover you aren't feeling motivated in your next job!
Take the time to discover what you really want in your career – now and in the future. Avoid hasty decisions that could cost you dear in the future.
If you do jump ship and look for another job, listen to my free weekly podcast for Job Interview Tips.
What are your top tips to feel motivated at work? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.