Every worker knows how important motivation is to get a job done well. But every worker (and business owner) also knows how easy it is to lose motivation at work, and how much productivity suffers as a result. It can be difficult to stay focused and motivated on work during times of challenge. Some challenges to maintaining motivation may have nothing to do with the actual job but they can get in the way, nonetheless—i.e., personal problems, financial worries, health crises, and social anxieties. Other challenges have to do directly with the job itself: tasks are unclear, unchallenging, or overwhelming. In our evolving era of remote and hybrid workplaces, maintaining motivation among employees faces new challenges, as well. As ordinary in-person communication is being eclipsed by digital relationships and collaboration, feelings of isolation and disconnection can result and take a heavy toll on workers’ motivation.
Motivation at work can be created and enhanced through extrinsic means—such as reward systems, incentive programs, and desirable in-office amenities—or it can be intrinsic, coming from an individual’s strong sense of purpose, pride, and accomplishment. The right combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors are needed to keep motivation high. If you are struggling with motivation at work, you are far from alone, but recognizing why you’re lacking motivation will point you toward what you need to get re-engaged with your work in order to make it productive and meaningful.
Working remotely has become a dream come true for millions of Americans who either left their old jobs to work for themselves or who transitioned during the pandemic and never looked back. The autonomy inherent in remote work can be very empowering because it grants workers a new-found freedom to dictate their own schedules and working environments. However, successful remote work requires high levels of intrinsic motivation, since in-office incentives and rewards are no longer available. Remote work requires heavy use of technology, as well, which tends to replace human interactions and can eventually lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness, particularly for people who are naturally creative or social. Some things to help remote workers enhance their motivation:
· Be proactive about socializing and connecting with people outside work so that you depend less on work to provide interpersonal relationships.
· Choose social places to work sometimes, like coffee shops, libraries, and co-working spaces so that you can be around others.
· Set deadlines for yourself so that you feel obligated to stick to a schedule and less tempted to let in distractions.
· Organize and declutter your workspace at home so that you feel more focused on work when you are in it.
Personal problems are one of the biggest sources of distraction for workers and they can take a heavy toll on levels of motivation and productivity. Workers who are struggling to maintain concentration and motivation at work because their thoughts and priorities lie elsewhere can benefit from open communication with a boss or supervisor. While you may not want to overshare about your personal, financial, family, or health situations, communicating your concerns with a manager will hopefully lead to some working accommodations or compromises.
· Take time off if your situation at home requires full attention.
· Let your manager know you need flexibility.
· Ask about a hybrid arrangement that allows you to adjust some of your hours or work part-time from home until a situation is resolved.
· Use time-management apps to help you stay focused on your tasks when you are working.
· Set realistic goals for yourself at work so that you don’t become overly self-critical, focused only on your failures.
Some jobs begin to feel routine and boring after a certain amount of time. And even the best of jobs still contain some tasks that are dreaded, monotonous, laborious, or unchallenging. Maintaining the motivation you need to get the job done is difficult when you don’t see the value in the tasks at hand. If you are struggling to stay motivated because the job feels uninspiring, you may have outgrown your position.
· Look for more challenging projects at work or advancement opportunities within the company.
· Take on a mentor to help guide you toward the next stage of your career.
· Redesign your daily schedule so that you get the dullest parts out of the way early and save the more appealing aspects for the end.
· Set up a reward system for yourself so that you feel motivated to complete uninteresting tasks.
Motivation is hard to maintain when every time you think about work you see an endless, virtually impossible to-do list. The less confidence you have in your ability to get a big, overwhelming job done, the less motivation you’ll feel to even get started. Some things that can help when a project seems too big:
· Break down big tasks and projects into small units that can be completed in shorter time windows.
· Create a schedule.
· Prioritize the items on your checklist and accept that some things of lesser importance have to wait.
· Take breaks to help keep stress down. Set a timer if you have to remind yourself.
Staying motivated is essential to working productively, but it is also one of the biggest challenges for workers who feel disconnected or don’t see the value of their jobs. Reminding yourself why this work is important, who will be impacted, and what role your work plays in the larger world helps keep you focused on it and keeps it meaningful. Recognizing the barriers to your motivation can point you to steps you need to take to get back on track.