Why You Might Find It Hard to Stay Motivated in Work

Guest post by Alessa Chloe


Imagine being holed up in an office cubicle with your coffee cup at arm's reach, and you decide to get some work done. A few hours and thousands of memes and dog videos later, you are still staring at your screen without having done anything.

If you find this scenario familiar, you are not alone. Research by Gallup found that 70% of workers feel disengaged from work. I’ve been there myself, and I still experience it every now and then. There was a time in college when I found it hard to motivate myself to even go to class. And now that I have started working, there are days when all I want is an extra hour of sleep.

So why do people sometimes find it hard to stay motivated at work?

Like anything in life, work tends to become less interesting when it becomes routinary. Part of enjoying an activity lies in its novelty. We enjoy our work when we are learning new stuff, soaking up a fresh environment, and meeting new people. But novelty disappears quickly. The best way to get out of the rut is to find more sustainable ways of motivating oneself.

When I'm having trouble motivating myself to work, I think about what I can have afterwards. Even something as simple as lunch or a coffee break can motivate me as I put my mind into finishing the job before the reward. Having your lunch can be more enjoyable when it comes with a sense of accomplishment that you finished a task. What more if you consider that what you're doing can lead to an achievement like 'employee of the month'? In other words, it's about having exact goals. It can be something small like rewarding yourself with a good meal after finishing an assignment; or a more grand recognition like an incentive or promotion.

A lot of people also appreciate adding a collaborative dimension to the task to make it more exciting. If you're a gig worker, collaborate with new artists. If you're in an office, team up with your fellow workers on projects. Maryville University emphasizes the importance of a collaborative spirit to inspire leadership and positive change in any organization. When two or more people are assigned to a task, it becomes less of a chore as it also becomes a social activity with healthy interaction. This can be fulfilling and can boost employee motivation and morale.

Just be wary as in some work environments, too much collaboration and social interaction can be exhausting. Going to a place with fewer people and less noise can be invigorating, which can help increase your motivation. Fast Company noted that knowledge workers only have an average of 11 minutes of focus periods per day. Don't hesitate to ask for silence or look for a quiet spot if that is what you think will make you a more motivated worker.

Of course, none of this will work if you fail to do the most important thing in getting over a lack of motivation, which is to take the leap and just get things done. Many people think of motivation as a muse that can only come out in rare moments of inspiration. The problem with this is that it makes motivation too dependent on external factors. An unmade bed you left at home; a few papers clips in disarray; no coffee in the pantry – lots of things can be a distraction if you fail to push yourself to just do your tasks. A previous post relayed Annie Dillard's quote that goes, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” Would you rather spend your day worrying about other things than being productive at work?

Ultimately, no one can motivate you better than yourself. Will yourself to face what is at hand, regardless of the circumstance or state of mind. It's a skill that trumps even the most talented individuals who lack the will to actualize their talent. Esteemed author Joyce Carol Oates was once asked how she motivates herself to write when she is not in the mood. She replied, “I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.”

So leave that unwashed cup of coffee for now because you can wash it later. Close that tab of videos you are itching to watch, as there is always another time for those. Just go ahead and get started on your work right away.

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This is a guest post written by Alessa Chloe, exclusively for meganleatherman.com. Alessa has been in the sales business for 10 years, but she is a writer by heart. She is a Virgo who loves green tea and wakeboarding during weekends.