How to deal when you’re unmotivated at work

In an ideal world, we’d have the same enthusiasm for our day job as a certain animated sea sponge has for his job as a fry cook. But the fact is, sometimes work just plain sucks and we’d sooner scroll through our entire spam folder than start That Big Task we’ve been putting off all week.

If you’re stuck in a rut at work and your productivity is taking a hit, you might be tempted to call it quits. But in the interests of your career, there might be a better solution.

Let’s bust this rut, shall we? Here are 6 ideas to get you started!

#1: Break it down
Motivation can only get us so far. To really get stuff done, you need a plan. If you’ve got a monster of a project on your hands, instead of becoming overwhelmed by it, break it down into steps that you can handle. For instance, “write 100-word introduction”, or “copy data from spreadsheet into word doc” – cut the project down to its most basic tasks and turn it into a checklist.

A list that you can tick off does wonders for your productivity (at least, it does for me) so it can’t hurt to give it a try. And if you’re not feeling particularly creative one day, work on the tasks that don’t require much brain power. This way, you can streamline your effort, maintain your energy and bring yourself a step closer to conquering the beast.

Ready to ‘fake it til you make it’?

#2: It’s all an act
The statement “fake it til you make it”, certainly rings true in the workplace. It’s unlikely that you connect with every aspect of your work on a deep level, there are probably some boring bits that the job description conveniently left out. But you still have to do them, and not seem like you’re cringing internally.

You may not have the mental energy to perform these dreaded tasks, but pretending like you do can really boost your morale and push you just that little further. Take a more positive approach to your work, and accept that you’re not going to magically become motivated, and that’s okay. Half the battle is in changing your attitude and your approach to work. Self-discipline doesn’t come easily, it comes with practice!

#3: Work from home
If your job allows for it, one option is to work from home (yes, there’s a right way to do it). Working from home isn’t for everyone, but some people swear by it for getting things done in a calm, uninterrupted setting. A change in your environment might be just what you need — try not to do it in your pyjamas though. We’re professionals here!

#4: Keep the momentum going
With distractions quite literally within reach, and any excuse to look away from the computer (hello, text message) ­– keeping the momentum is no easy task. But try to keep your head in the game for at least twenty minutes. Switch off your phone, close those browser tabs, set a timer and pump out as much as you can. Momentum will get you much further than motivation.

#5: Switch up your routine
Some research suggests that early risers are more proactive than night owls and get more work done throughout the day. However, those who work in the evening tend to be more creative. It’s a good idea to switch up your routine once in a while and get your body into a new rhythm. Get up early, take the dog for a walk, hit the gym or simply start your work day an hour earlier and see what effect it has on your productivity. At least you tried, right?

#6: Realise that you’re doing your best
We can’t always be our ideal selves, we can only do our best. If you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of your job, take a mental health day (there’s no shame in it) and re-assess your priorities. If you’re falling behind on deadlines, ask for help from a trusted colleague, stay positive about the rewarding aspects of your job, and take comfort in the things you do enjoy doing.

Emily Gorsky is a writer with several years’ experience in the media industry. She strongly believes in living a balanced life. Her mission is to inspire others to engage in self-motivated learning and build their own path to success.


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