How to Stay Motivated at work
Even when you have your dream job, there are times that you simply don’t want to be in the office. Maybe a client is getting on your nerves or the project you’re in charge of is not interesting. Maybe it’s as simple as the sun being out for the first time in a while or some fresh snow sitting in the mountains. Whatever the reason may be, some days it’s really hard to stay motivated at work.
You don’t have to live in this land of the unmotivated though. If you can put even one of these 5 things in to practice regularly in your life, you’re going to be motivated to get your work done regularly.
Motivation actually starts the night before by getting a good sleep. One study looked at school kids and sleep reduction, where it found that with reduced sleep kids were less eager to do their work and achieved less. Another study looked at the learning ability of medical residents and found that if they got less than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep they showed decreased motivation. Many studies have shown that getting a good night sleep increases our chances of living longer.
Setting a good time to head to bed isn’t just picking a number on the clock and making sure you’re in bed before 11pm. You need to start by looking forward to the time you need to get up. If you need to roll out of bed by 5am then going to bed by 11pm means you only get 6 hours of sleep not the 7 – 9 generally recommended. With an awake time of 5am you need to be in bed eyes closed by 9pm.
Before that get away from devices at least an hour before bed. If you must read a bit to relax, get out a good old paper book and do your reading. Don’t drink heavily caffeinated drinks in the hours running up to bed time since caffeine helps inhibit the brain’s natural receptors that tell us we’re tired.
With a solid 7 – 9 hours of sleep planned on the schedule you’re much more likely to be able to maintain your motivation at work the next day.
The next step in making sure you stay motivated at work is to get a bit of exercise in to start the day. It doesn’t have to be an hour of hard running or Crossfit, a simple brisk walk will start your day off on the right foot. A study done with semi-professional rugby players found that a morning exercise routine increased their performance later in the day.
Setting up a daily routine to get your heart rate going will mean that you have more focus later in the day. On the way to your office, take the stairs. Get off the subway a stop early and briskly walk to the office. A workout doesn’t need to be hours a day, or even an hour. Twenty minutes of activity can make a difference in your motivation and longevity.
If you’re really motivated join a local gym and find a daily class you can join. By joining a class you’ll be motivated to show up by the other people you meet which means you’ll be more likely to go and reap the benefits of concentration and better health.
According to Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage, social support is one of the best predictors of success at work. Speaking of tough times at work Achor says.
The most successful people take the exact opposite approach. (instead of closing down and turning in to a mole in the office) Instead of turning inward, they actually hold tighter to their social support. Instead of divesting, they invest. Not only are these people happier, but they are more productive, engaged, energetic, and resilient. They know that their social relationships are the single greatest investment they can make in the Happiness Advantage. – Happiness Advantage – comment in parentheses mine
Building these relationships means that you don’t just lock yourself in your office. You take lunch with your colleagues and during that lunch you leave your phone in your pocket or better yet at the office. You take the lunch to get to know them and build a relationship so that when a project is going poorly and you don’t want to do it, you have others that are invested in your success as well.
These others will be willing to come alongside you in the hard times and support your work.
How many times do you walk in to your office and the first thing you do is open up email. Truth be told, most of us have checked email on our phones before we’ve even been to the office in the morning.
Email is a wonderful list of the tasks that other people think are important for you to do that day. To combat this pull of email, write down the most important task for you to do the next day before you leave the office at night. That way you don’t have to deal with decision fatigue first thing in the morning, you can just get down to the task at hand. You save your willpower for things that will come up later in the day.
As it turns out, your willpower is like a muscle. And similar to the muscles in your body, willpower can get fatigued when you use it over and over again. – James Clear
Even with that task staring you in the face, it may be hard to get right on it when you get in the office. Using the Pomodoro Technique, set yourself a 25 minute block to focus on your first task. If you’re not motivated to keep on it after then take a break. Most times you’re going to find that by the time you’ve finished that first 25 minute block of focus you’re ready to move directly in to the next block and your day will be off to a great start before you know it because you’ve managed your time well.
Plan time off
I was just talking to a local business owner about time travelling. Months ago he told me he purchased a backpack so I asked him how much he got to use it this summer. Unsurprisingly the answer was not at all. He’s still waiting for the time his business is slow enough to take that vacation time.
Instead of waiting for that you need to look at your calendar a year ahead and put your vacation time on that calendar. Then don’t let work get in the way, plan your year around that time off to recharge.
Without regular time booked off to recharge you’re never going to be your most creative motivated self. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can be motivated 365 days a year for years on end and do your best work all the time.
Even on a smaller scale than your year, plan times of the week where you have a slower pace. Maybe book every Monday off from Thanksgiving to January and use that Monday to slow down. Read the books you’ve been meaning to read. Clean up those things around the house you’ve been meaning to. Take a nap, or go out with the kids.
If you can bring even one of these techniques in to your regular routine, you’re going to find that motivation at work is a small problem. You’ll be rested and ready to tackle each challenge as it comes along. You’ll have tho social support of those you work with and you can lean on it when things are tough. You have a plan to get your most important task done before you get bogged down with everything else people want from you and you’ll have invested in yourself so that you have the energy to go hard when it’s needed.
Curtis is a business coach and speaker. He mainly focuses on helping businesses build effective processes for vetting ideal clients and building a business that doesn’t take every hour of every day to run.