How to Get Motivated to Work
We asked 21 professionals how they get motivated to work. Here's what they had to say.
We asked 21 professionals how they get motivated to work. Here's what they had to say.
Sometimes, all you need to get motivated to work is a little inspiration. Luckily, you’re not alone in this world. And even if you’re working from home—which, admittedly, can get lonely—you can look to others for inspiration.
Grab Your Phone or Turn on the TV
Minhao 'Mike' Qiu, Owner of Good As Sold Home Buyers, recommends scrolling through your social feed: “A method that I've used to help stay motivated when I’m feeling tired or burnt out temporarily is actually using social media. I have lots of peers and friends on different social media platforms, and seeing others post about their success really drives my motivation.”
If you can’t find inspiration on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., you can always just turn on the TV. D. Channing Muller, Principal Consultant and Founder at DCM Communications, for instance, found her inspiration on Netflix: “After a week-long, much needed vacation, I had a hard time getting myself to focus back at work. My solution: I started rewatching The West Wing on Netflix from Season 1. Even though it’s a completely different field in so many ways, the characters are SO insanely passionate about what they do. They work crazy hours, deal with an unreal amount of stress on a daily basis, are in constant motion, and get paid government salaries (a fact they drop in every now and then), yet still they get up each day and do it over again. That type of passion is both admirable and infectious. It gave me the kick in the pants to remember why I started my business and why, despite vacation brain being harder to shake than I’d like, I LOVE what I do.”
Jeff Zhou, Co-Founder and CEO at Fig Tech, has a similarly unconventional way of letting others inspire him: He imagines what it’d be like to be the hero in a Disney adventure. “You are Mulan, Moana, Hercules, etc. That hard, tedious piece of work standing in your way, that’s the challenge and this is the start of your hero training montage. Getting through each trial effectively and efficiently is a stepping stone, and you know how it feels at the end of the Disney montage! Yes, this is a romanticized perspective, but why not change the narrative and feel great about all the little things? So put on your favorite inspirational Disney song and start the transformation!”
Work as a (Remote) Team
According to Tim Reitsma, Co-Founder of People Managing People, “one surefire way to get motivated is to surround yourself with goal-oriented, hard-working people. On a team, this can look like everyone being excited around a common goal and keeping each other accountable for reaching it. Even though remote work can be by nature more individualistic, you can still have virtual coworking sessions. Offer a zoom session where you and your co-workers focus in silence for one hour.”
Lesley Reynolds, Co-Founder of The Harley Street Skin Clinic, confirms the importance of placing such time limits: “This concept is especially useful when you're part of a great team and need the job of one member to finish before a partner can integrate it into their next move. Feeling like part of a well-oiled system will motivate your teammates, and can overcome the hurry-up-and-wait grating feeling that saps energy.
Taking team-based motivation to the next level, especially while working from home, Trista Polo of I Woke Up Awesome Coaching has implemented what she calls Contact Workshops: “We come to the workshop via Zoom, prepped for whatever we want to accomplish that session. Sessions are an hour long and we start off by sharing what we are going to do for the hour. Whatever the person chooses is fine. We check in with each other at the halfway point and then 5 minutes before the end of the hour.”
Keep Things Interesting
Another way to get inspired (and, consequently, motivated!) at work is to hone your skills. Muhammad Mateen Khan, Digital Marketing Strategist at PureVPN, shares how to sell this idea to your boss like a boss: “Identify a skill relevant to your current role that interests you and pitch the idea to your boss. Especially if it’s something that will benefit the company, they might even be willing to fund your training or allow you to use work time to develop it. It’s a win for you to add value to the employer, while also adding value to your marketability.”
If you find yourself uninterested in learning anything new in your current role, the way to get motivated to work may mean searching for a new role—either within your current company or at a new company. Jason Lavis, Managing Director at Out of the Box Innovations, tells it like it is: “If you regularly struggle to motivate yourself at work, unless you are sick, grieving or have a similar external factor, then you've chosen the wrong job. Maybe you've misjudged or outgrown previous choices. From now on, you can look for opportunity and make a better choice. There's no hack, tactic, or quick fix if your career ladder is against the wrong building.”
Get in the Right Mindset
Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the bigger picture, listening to music, and rewarding yourself can all contribute to getting into the right mindset and, consequently, getting motivated to work.
Annie M. Varvaryan, Psy.D. and Co-Founder at Couch Conversations Psychotherapy and Counseling, says: “Change your mindset from “I have to work” to “I have the opportunity to be working right now.” Approaching your work with gratitude for the opportunities you have instead of what you have to do changes your mindset and promotes more motivation at work.”
Colin T. McLetchie, President and Founder of Five Ways Forward, agrees, offering an anecdote: “One man in a workshop said, “Colin, I GET to pick up my kids every day at 4 pm. I don’t HAVE to, I GET TO! And I’m wasting this time with these precious beings that I could use so differently.” And he did. He became “just like THAT Dad”—the one on YouTube who posts videos of himself and his kids doing all kinds of fun, creative stuff for the hour he was alone with them each day.”
Focus on the Big Picture
Lee Marbet, owner of The Rock Place, says: “To be motivated at work, especially during difficult times like the economic downturn caused by coronavirus, it's important to keep a big picture perspective. If your work is impacting people you care about, focus on that, and you'll be motivated even on your hardest days.”
Damon Nailer, CEO of Kitril and author of Living, Loving, Leading, agrees: “I adopted the mindset that my job is not just a form of income, but it is the means by which I fulfill my purpose and make a significant contribution to humanity. With that perspective, I wake up daily inspired and motivated to serve and positively impact the lives of others. Additionally, knowing my work is larger than just me also provides a needed spark because it helps me realize I am a valuable asset who others can rely on.”
Listen to Music
Foster Mendez, Founder of Spear Mortgage, uses music to get in the right mindset before work: “I pump myself up with music every morning while getting ready. It's my happy pill to help me get a great start to the day. This puts me in a good mood which makes me more motivated to get my work done and ready to take on the challenges of the day.”
Eri Panselina, Journalist and Media Relations Coordinator at TalentLMS, adds that listening to music while you work can be equally beneficial: “At a time when the majority of knowledge workers do their jobs remotely, usually from their homes, it is extremely important to identify what sounds help you focus on work and maximize your productivity. I tend to focus with ambient sounds or meditative music in the background. Identify with what kind of sounds/music you work better and create the appropriate conditions.”
Technology Marketing Consultant Bruce Harpham says: “My number one tip to stay motivated at work is to set myself small challenges and rewards I can complete each week and each month. For example, last week, I promised myself that I would buy a documentary movie as a reward via iTunes if I completed that week’s work plan. I completed it successfully and enjoyed the reward!”
Noman Nalkhande, Founder of WP Adventure, adds: “A reward could be as simple as checking your phone and responding to your WhatsApp messages; or grab a quick bite or make yourself a cup of coffee. It can be whatever you want as long as it doesn't impede your progress. It should be rewarding enough to make you feel good and motivate you to get done with your daily task.”
Getting organized can really help you to boost your motivation at work. How do you do that? Try breaking big tasks down into smaller ones which you can check off of a to-do list as you go. Also, remember to take regular breaks.
Break Big Tasks Down Into Manageable Chunks
Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group, recommends breaking your day down into hour-long chunks: “When I’m having trouble getting motivated, I break my work for the day down into small chunks that will take an hour or less to complete, then prioritize them on their level of time-sensitivity, starting with the one that needs to be finished first.”
Kriss Judd, owner of Positivity Powerhouse, prefers even smaller units: “I give myself permission to only work for 15 minutes. If I don't feel up to it, I can stop after 15 and go do whatever else. But more often than not, those 15 minutes are just the catalyst, and I'm good to go for 8-10 hours. All it takes is that initial nudge.”
Make a To-Do List
Deborah Sweeney, CEO at MyCorporation, says: “What helps motivate me to get ready to work is to create a to-do list. I make this list at the start of the day or the end of it, depending on how busy the day is. Writing out a physical to-do list gives me the ability to prioritize items and assignments based on their deadlines and time block workloads based around meetings I take throughout the work day. Once I finish an item on the list, I cross it off and move on to the next item. By the end of the day, I'm able to review everything I have accomplished and reschedule additional items I was unable to fully finish for tomorrow.”
Inna Shevchenko, CMO at iGMS, tells us: “It is a proven fact that productive employees are more motivated. There are tons of things constantly pulling at your attention—notifications, calls, texts, and many more. One of the ways to keep yourself more productive during the workday is to take regular breaks and move around a bit for physical and mental relief.”
This is just as important when you’re working from home, as psychotherapist Jennifer Tomko, owner of Clarity Health Solutions, notes: “Walking your dog can help to break up your day and force you to take mental health breaks. Be mindful of this and get up from your desk and walk around your home or take a walk outside, even if you don’t have a pet.”
There you have it. 21 sure-fire techniques to help you get motivated to work. If you'd like this list in a handy PDF you can hang on your office wall, click the link below.