Feeling apathetic at work? It can be hard to find motivation sometimes, especially when you're encountering roadblocks or dealing with the exact same tasks every day.
Wondering how to reignite the flame after the winter break? Check out our tips to stay motivated at work and beat the slump.
When we have a lot to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially after a break! Hundreds of unread emails and what seems like a never-ending amount of admin tasks can make the return to work daunting for anyone coming back from holiday.
An easy way to take the edge off these tasks and get to the most exciting parts of your work more quickly is to get them out of the way straight away. Set apart thirty minutes to an hour every morning to deal with quick tasks that won’t require more than a few minutes.
Updating your password, deleting spam emails, filling in your timesheet… All these less-than-thrilling tasks shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. Upon your return from a break, chances are you’ll spend a few hours going through emails. That’s alright! You might feel self-conscious about “wasting” your time on these tasks, but you’ll prevent them from accumulating so you can be more productive later.
Manage your workload
A massive workload can make you feel hopeless and demotivated. Prioritize your tasks and lay out your projects for the week ahead every Monday.
It will help you dedicate time to each task when it’s really needed without having to rush to finish everything on a Friday at 5pm. Start with urgent tasks and work your way through the list. You can use a notebook or an online tool such as Notion or Trello to organize your tasks.
Instead of getting driven by stress and a sense of urgency, you’ll be able to take more time to think creatively about your projects and remember why you chose this role in the first place.
In the spirit of managing your workload, pace yourself! Especially after a break, it can be challenging to get back to your usual pace. It’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Be patient with yourself: habits do come back.
Allocate some extra time for your tasks if you’re feeling less productive than usual. Pushing yourself too much while you’re still readjusting and dealing with darker days could have the opposite effect. Don’t burn yourself out!
Easing back into your work routine will make it less stressful. It will allow you to refamiliarize yourself with your responsibilities – and even look at your projects with fresh eyes!
It’s important to set boundaries to avoid burnout and keep yourself motivated at work. Feeling like people keep dumping tasks on you that are out of your remit is bound to make you feel unappreciated and demotivated.
Similarly, you should feel able to push back on tasks if you’re too busy and they’re not a priority. Communicate your needs clearly and ask for enough notice for new tasks as well as a justification of why they’re needed now. This year, don’t be afraid to say no.
Finally, boundaries also mean sticking to your actual work hours. Log off after the end of the day, and avoid reading your emails or answering direct messages after work hours if they’re not urgent. If someone sends you a question after hours, it’s likely it can wait until the next morning.
Set realistic expectations
If you’re feeling a bit down and tired, you might not feel ready to take over the world yet, even if your New Year’s resolutions say otherwise. The key to navigating these feelings while staying motivated at work is to manage expectations.
Setting realistic expectations for yourself and others will help you feel less overwhelmed and feel more confident about your progress. Aspirational goals can be exciting at first, but consistently failing to reach them can feel very demotivating, even if you achieved a lot.
Stay ambitious but make sure you set clear, tangible objectives that you could actually achieve. Track your progress and you’ll see you’re doing much better than you might have imagined. It’s also going to make it easier to communicate your achievements with your team and build more trust.
As much as you can get a lot of satisfaction from doing your work well, recognition is also a key driver to staying motivated. Feeling like your work is not being recognized can be the reason you’re feeling demotivated. From small wins to big milestones, don’t be afraid to celebrate your achievements.
It’s nice to know your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, if only by you. Treat yourself to a little something when you achieve something you’re proud of, be it a snack, a break, or a silly dance at your desk. It’s a great way to reward yourself and stay motivated day after day.
Share bigger wins with your manager, your team, or the whole company if relevant. It’s nice to know your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! Plus, it could help make a case for your next promotion.
Reflect on what you love
Thinking about your work and reflecting on the tasks and projects you enjoy the most might help you remind yourself why you do this in the first place. Write down a list of your favorite activities at work and look into how to make more time for them. You can even talk to your manager about it so they can help with your development.
You could also look into how to turn your areas of interest and your strongest skills into speaking engagements to share your passion with a different audience. Why not attend more professional events too to meet other like-minded people?
If this exercise leaves you more confused than before and you struggle to find tasks you’re feeling excited or passionate about, it might be time to reflect on your career choice. Is there another industry or role that motivates you? What would be the steps to get there? Realizing what you’re after will help you devise an action plan for your future.
Try new things
Sometimes we lose motivation at work simply because we’re bored. To counteract this feeling and reignite the flame, there’s nothing better than trying new things. It will help you break the routine, develop new skills, and maybe even find a new interest you didn’t suspect.
Is there something you’d like to try in your own role? Do you have colleagues in other teams whose job intrigues you? Set time aside each week to explore new ideas and projects, or express this interest with your line manager. It will help you keep things interesting and stay motivated at work.
Trying something new can also be about changing your work environment from time to time. How about working from a coworking space if you’re usually at home, or avoiding your usual desk from time to time? If your work allows flexible hours, you can also do an early day, or, on the contrary, start later and get more rest in the morning.
Setting aside time for learning can help you stay curious and on top of industry news and trends. On top of improving your employability, continuous learning and work training can keep work exciting and inspiring. Add a hot cup of coffee and you’ll be ready to take on anything life throws at you.
It could help you become more efficient in your usual tasks, increasing your sense of pride in your own work and making processes easier. It’s also an opportunity to get new ideas and look at existing pain points with fresh eyes.
Whether it’s company training, online courses, or simply reading blog articles and magazines, make sure you make time for your own development to stay motivated and inspired at work. Plus, a study by LinkedIn suggests that workers who get the opportunity to learn and improve their skills at work are 47% less likely to feel stressed and 39% more likely to feel productive and successful.
It’s scientifically proven: helping others does make you feel better. Supporting your colleagues and sharing your knowledge doesn’t just make you a team player, it’s also a great way to boost your confidence and your motivation at work.
Feeling helpful is a great way to find purpose in your work and know why you’re getting out of bed in the morning, especially when it’s so cold outside. You’ll find that helping out those around you is one of the most powerful drives to staying motivated at work. It also gives you an opportunity to bond with your colleagues and feel more connected.
Create a supportive work environment
Talking about connection, a supportive work environment is a great way to stay happy and motivated at work. Social interactions are not only a normal part of life, they’re also key for your wellbeing. Great colleagues are equally great motivators to get back to the office.
Make sure there’s someone you can talk to if you’re feeling stressed, want to vent, or simply need a break. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your mental health at work, an anonymous community such as TalkLife Workplace can provide a safe, supportive environment to share the ups and downs of work and life.