Why You Have No Motivation to Work And How to Overcome It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

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.

Most professionals face challenges at work, and these obstacles can present new opportunities for growth. Some professionals find it difficult to overcome these challenges, which can lead to a lack of motivation. Learning about why you have no motivation to work and how to overcome it can help you take steps to improve your energy level and productivity. In this article, we explain why it's important to learn why you find it challenging to feel motivated, the reasons you might face these obstacles and how you can increase your motivation at work.

Related: How to Self-Motivate at Work (With Steps and Tips)

Why is it important to understand why you have no motivation to work and how to overcome it?

It's important to know why you have no motivation to work and how to overcome it because feeling unmotivated can make it challenging to complete your tasks. Motivation can make you feel more eager to work towards your goals and prepared to finish your duties accurately and on time. It may also help boost morale in the workplace, which can make your colleagues feel motivated to achieve personal, team and organisational goals. This may help create a positive work environment that promotes job satisfaction and prevents employee burnout.

Related: Tips on How to Be Motivated at Work

Reasons you may have less motivation to work

You may feel unmotivated to work for many reasons, and it may change depending on the day or project. Here are some reasons you may have no motivation in the workplace:

  • You have a busy schedule: When you have a lot of tasks on your to-do list, you may feel like it is challenging to finish everything. Rather than working on every task presented to you at the same time, it's important to prioritise your tasks, so you can complete them in order of importance and on schedule.

  • You need a better work-life balance: When you make more time for work than your personal life, you may experience job burnout. By setting healthy boundaries between the two, such as turning off work email notifications on your phone before you leave the office, you may feel more focused and motivated at work.

  • You find it challenging to get started: Sometimes, the thought of completing a task may feel more challenging than actually finishing it. It may help to remind yourself that you have the knowledge and skills to perform this task and that once you get into a state of focus, your work could be quite rewarding.

  • You need a physical and mental recharge: If it's been a while since you took time off from work, plan your next break from the workplace. Whether you can take a week to go on holiday or just spend a Monday away from the office, the break may help you feel recharged and ready to focus.

  • You're going through a life change: If you're managing stressful circumstances in your personal life, such as getting married or studying at university, you may find it challenging to keep your focus during work hours. If you find that your personal or family life is affecting your work, consider communicating this concern with human resources or with your manager to see if you can find a resolution that allows you to find a balance.

  • You're ready for a new job: If your current job no longer feels challenging in a positive way, it may be time to start looking for a new one or considering changing your career path. Having new tasks and responsibilities may help you become more interested in your work and motivated to complete your tasks again.

8 ways to increase your motivation at work

Here are eight suggestions for increasing your motivation at work:

1. Get enough sleep

If you feel overtired at work, you may find that even basic tasks are challenging. You may prevent or minimise fatigue by getting enough sleep on work nights. Sleep has an important role in maintaining your physical and mental health. It gives your body the rest required to function properly, which can prevent the body from experiencing fatigue or discomfort that might interfere with work. The effects of adequate rest on your brain may also be significant, as it can lead to increased focus and improved mood.

2. Eat nutritious meals

Like getting enough sleep at night, eating healthy foods can promote physical and mental well-being. If you rarely eat breakfast, consider eating something small and nutritious before work to give your brain the energy it needs to help you concentrate. Eating healthy snacks and meals throughout the day can also help by giving you an energy boost that may encourage motivation and productivity. If you find you often eat at restaurants during lunch at work, consider bringing a nutritious meal instead to help you finish your day feeling focused and refreshed.

3. Take short breaks

Working on tedious tasks for many consecutive hours or performing similar tasks every day can make it challenging for you to stay focused. Taking short breaks throughout the day allows you to give your mind a rest, which can help you feel mentally rejuvenated and ready to move forward. Consider scheduling small breaks if you can. If you work in an office, taking a quick walk around the facility or saying hello to colleagues may improve your focus and mood. If you work at home, consider doing something you enjoy for a few minutes and then returning to work.

4. Give yourself enough time

Professionals sometimes feel unmotivated at work because they don't have time to manage all their tasks as quickly as expected. This can happen for many reasons. For example, if you find yourself rushing in the morning to get ready for work and arrive on time, you can wake up a few minutes earlier to ease stress. If you find it challenging to complete all your tasks at work, consider organising your schedule and prioritising your tasks to make them easier to complete.

5. Find external motivators

Sometimes your motivation comes from something outside of yourself. For instance, inspiring self-help books, podcasts and articles can help you feel more motivated. Likewise, listening to upbeat music while you work can boost your energy and focus. You may even want to create a buddy system with a coworker to help each other stay motivated. You could both share inspirational quotes or positive feedback when you notice each other's motivation could be higher.

6. Create work goals

Having a goal to work towards can help you stay on task and feel more motivated. You can make short-term and long-term goals, such as daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly objectives. When making your goals, consider using the SMART method to make them achievable and encourage yourself to pursue them:

  • Specific: Narrow the scope of your goal, so you have a full understanding of what to accomplish.

  • Measurable: Choose a set of parameters for how you measure the progress of your goal.

  • Attainable: Choose a goal that's realistic for you to accomplish, then create larger goals over time.

  • Relevant: Make your goal relevant to your career and work responsibilities, so it can help you grow in your role.

  • Time-bound: Plan how long it may take you to finish each goal and remember to set specific dates for each milestone you reach while working towards a long-term goal.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition, Template and Examples

7. Ask for feedback

It's likely that someone else within the organisation or another professional you know has had the same concerns you have that affect your motivation. Consider asking a colleague or peer if they have any suggestions for overcoming your challenges with motivation. You may also set up a meeting with your manager and ask for feedback about your performance and advice for making your tasks more manageable. They may have recommendations that can help you complete your duties more efficiently.

Related: How to Give Feedback Professionally at Work (With Examples)

8. Create a reward system

Reward yourself for every task you complete. This is especially important when you are working towards a long-term goal. At each milestone of the goal, decide what your reward is. Base your reward system on things that you enjoy. For instance, if you like to get active, your reward could be taking a break to go on a walk. Likewise, if you're social, your reward could be spending a few minutes talking to a coworker. Match your rewards to the tasks you complete. Small tasks can earn small rewards, while large tasks earn more significant rewards.

Related: Extrinsic Motivation Examples (Definition and Importance)

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