Tips on How To Be Motivated at Work
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 14 September 2022 | Published 30 June 2021
Updated 14 September 2022
Published 30 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Motivation is the driving force behind almost all human behaviour. It can be intrinsic, meaning that it comes naturally from within, but it can also be extrinsic, meaning that external rewards are required for you to be motivated. Most individuals need both to help make work easier and more enjoyable, but motivation does not always come easily. In this article, we will look into what it means to be motivated, why it's important to be motivated and how to be motivated at work.
Why is it important to be motivated at work?
Being motivated means the ability to stimulate and push yourself to put in the effort needed to accomplish certain tasks or achieve your goals. It's a skill that can be developed and can improve with time. Just like any other skill, the ability to get motivated and stay motivated requires practice. Once you have mastered the methods and understand what makes you motivated, it should feel easier to find the drive to complete the task assigned to you.
The ability to be motivated at work and sustain that motivation is one of the key traits that differentiate well-performing professionals from everyone else. On an organisational level, having motivated employees translates to enhanced productivity, lower turnover and better team dynamics. On an individual level, having motivation can help you to achieve your professional goals by increasing job satisfaction and driving self-confidence. It also makes you a better problem-solver, and you can be more adaptable to changes, which positively impacts your personal life.
7 tips on how to be motivated at work
Staying motivated at work is crucial to help you perform your best in your professional and personal life. Here are seven ways of what you can do to stay motivated at work, both in the office or in a remote working arrangement:
1. Find the meaning in your work
Understanding what you do and how it impacts the people around you helps you to think of your career in the long term and increase your motivation. Reflect on the meaning and the reasons behind what you're doing, including how your work impacts your team, your project and your organisation as a whole. Seeing how your work impacts these stakeholders can inspire you to perform your best and deliver quality output. Big-picture thinking also helps you to consider the links between individuals or teams at work, and this can positively impact your work relationships.
2. Create milestones
Having big end goals can help you to see the overall situation and visualise the result. However, it can sometimes be overwhelming because these goals can be vague and take a long time to complete. It's hard to see what concrete steps to take and how long it will take to reach the goals.
Instead, you can break the goal down into smaller tasks and create milestones for each task that you can do in a relatively shorter period of time. The benefit of this is doubled because the more milestones you've ticked off, the more motivated you are to work on the rest of the tasks and reach the end goal.
3. Apply the 10-minute rule
Sometimes, no matter how hard you've convinced yourself to start a task, you simply don't want to or don't have the energy to start working. One way to combat this is by applying the 10-minute rule. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and only work on the task for 10 minutes. After that, you're free to take a break. Once you find yourself already focusing on the task at hand, you are more inclined to keep the momentum going and complete the task in one sitting. This can, then, result in the completion of more tasks.
4. Work in blocks
Working in blocks means dividing your day into specific, relatively short time frames for you to complete a specified task, with short breaks between blocks. Since each block is set aside for only one task, this motivates you to stay focused and be more efficient.
Telling yourself that you have 30 minutes to read and reply to five emails is easier than thinking about having to read your full inbox by the end of the day. Another benefit of time blocking is that it forces you to plan ahead and prioritise only the important tasks that you can fit into your limited blocks. When planning your time, do include breaks so that the schedule is realistic and attainable.
5. Communicate your goals with others
Sharing your goals with others helps to hold you accountable for those goals and makes you motivated to complete them. However, there are two things to keep in mind when communicating your goals to others. The first is to share the goals with relevant stakeholders or people whose opinions you care about, such as your manager. The second point is to be specific with the goal that you want to achieve. Tell that person when you plan to complete that goal and the specific steps that you will take to get there.
6. Design a conducive environment
Having a conducive physical environment means eliminating distractions and adding appliances that help you to sustain prolonged focus and energy on a task. Some examples of limiting distractions include keeping your phone on silent or turning off background noise, and having a dedicated workspace. On top of removing distractions, you can also have devices that help you stay productive such as using an ergonomic chair, having sufficient lighting or setting the ideal room temperature for you. When your physical environment is comfortable and conducive, you're freeing up your mental space to fully focus on work.
7. Reward yourself
The final tip that you can try is to design an effective reward system that can be an external motivator. This reward does not have to be a grand indulgence or an expensive gift. It can be in the form of smaller treats like taking a coffee break or allowing yourself to watch a few episodes of your favourite television show at the end of the day. When designing rewards, be careful not to choose incentives that undermine your goal or give rewards for the wrong metric.
3 tips to stay motivated at work in the long-term
Sometimes you may find it hard to be motivated even if you have set milestones, eliminated distractions and prepared rewards to look forward to. If that's the case, the underlying cause of your lack of motivation may require different strategies to combat. Here are three more tips that you can follow to help motivate you in the longer term:
Find jobs that align with your purpose
No matter how many ways you have tried to make yourself feel motivated, it can be hard to do so when you don't feel that your job is aligned with your life purpose or goal. Even though what you're doing is important, it's hard to find meaning in the tasks that you're not passionate about. If you're constantly lacking motivation, it may be a sign for you to look for work that you're truly excited about. You can try and look for roles in a different department within your current company or in an entirely different industry.
Take a longer break
It's challenging to find motivation when you're exhausted. Sometimes what you need is not a conducive environment or rewards to motivate yourself. When you're feeling overworked, the best way to tackle this is by giving yourself a good rest or power nap for you to recharge and care for your mental health. Take a few days off to focus on yourself and avoid anything work-related, including checking your email or work phone.
Talk to your manager
You can also talk to your manager if you find it hard to be motivated, and it's a recurring issue. Perhaps you're taking on too much work, or maybe the task given to you is beyond your expertise. It's also possible that what you need is to be compensated more fairly. In this case, you may talk to your manager to explore different options and make your work more manageable. This will also help your manager and your team to plan work streams accordingly and make everyone more productive and happy.
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