We often see it advertised to “stay motivated” and that keeping motivated is the one big answer to all work problems, but in all honesty, motivation often comes as a bonus, something to be valued when it’s there yet we shouldn’t depend on it. This is because motivation isn’t permanent and everyone is bound to have off days. So if motivation isn't the answer, how do we get through days where we may feel completely unmotivated?
The first step to getting through these days is to have your goals set in place. However, you work best, make a list, mind map, or say them out loud. It’s far easier to get things done if you plan ahead and know what your goals are. This is a great way to then look at the level of importance of everything that needs to be done, it’s okay to let things slip into the next few days if they aren’t as important as things with closer deadlines. If you are able to break down a huge workload into smaller tasks you may find it easier to get through them, seeing one big task that you know will take hours can seem quite daunting but smaller parts of it may seem far more doable and before you know it you’ll have gotten far more done than you originally expected.
This then segways into the next idea of plotting your progress as you go along. It helps some people push through work easier if they are able to see their own progress and you may even surprise yourself with how much you are able to accomplish. It can even feel rewarding to some to be able to tick off their to-do’s as they go along with their day. Stats show us that 70% of employees feel disengaged at work, which is proven to cost businesses up to $300 Billion in lost workdays and/or slower work progress in general. So for the benefit of everyone, it is definitely of use to learn how you best work without motivation.
A commonly used method is the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management system that pushes the idea of working with the time you have instead of racing against the clock. This method consists of breaking down your day into 25-minute sectors with 5-minute breaks in between each one, then after doing this four times, the breaks are extended to about 15-20 minutes. The idea is that you realise you only have 25 minutes to get through your work before the next break which for some proves as a very promising method to get their head down and work well. Then with the small breaks, any burnout is avoidable and it’s useful to take a step back from work, breathe, get some water, let the mind relax, then get back to it. For more information on the Pomodoro technique, I would recommend going to Todoist which has a more in-depth explanation and plenty of helpful tips.
One of the most important things you can do to make it easier to get through your days is simply self care. Be sure to fuel your body with both plenty of food and water throughout the day as your eating/drinking habits have a much larger effect than you may realise. Even mild amounts of dehydration have been found to drop employees' productivity by 12%, at just 1% dehydration, workers begin experiencing decreased cognitive abilities, reduced concentration and alertness, and slower reaction times and overall it will affect your ability to think clearly.
Not practising proper self care will show through in your work so make sure both at home and at work you are fuelling your body properly. This also includes sleeping the correct amount every night as more than 43% of workers are sleep deprived, especially night shift workers where 63% experience sleep loss which greatly affects work performance since being under a lack of sleep will make it harder to concentrate, communicate and learn effectively. Getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep is not recommended as it takes approximately 7.5 hours to go through a full cycle of sleep which you can learn about at Healthline which has more detail on how much sleep you should be getting and ways to help improve the quality of sleep.
Temptations and distractions are probably some of the biggest struggles to fight off when trying to focus. It will for sure be in your best interest to attempt to remove as many temptations as possible so you will be able to focus properly without drifting off back to your phone, which is constantly calling for your attention. Distractions are almost inevitable, depending on where you work each distraction will vary and some people struggle more than others with being able to ignore these types of distractions. Ensure the environment you’re working in is the best suited to you and if you find yourself struggling because of the workplace, you should be able to speak to your boss about possible changes that could be made to help you.
Lastly, I would like to add that you should never sit around and wait for motivation, as I said at the beginning it is only a bonus to be able to feel motivated towards what you are doing. The most important part at the end of it all is self discipline which is for some reason less talked about than motivation but is definitely considered more important. The road to gain self discipline isn’t an easy one and it may take many changes in habit before you can get there but always remember it is possible, and once learnt it’ll come as second nature, so much so that other people may see it as having constant motivation. An example of this is people who actively make the effort to go to the gym however many times a week, it takes an incredible amount of self discipline to push through when perhaps muscles are sore or you simply don’t feel like going. Before I myself learnt about self discipline I was under the impression that gym-goers had some secret to unlocking all the motivation needed and I believe many other people think that too. But the reality is, it’s just discipline and anyone can learn it for any aspect of life.
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