Five steps to take when you're feeling unmotivated
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
We’ve all had bad days at work. You know, those days where you felt devoid of passion, inspiration and energy. The ones where procrastination won out over checking off items on your to-do list.
Pre-pandemic, days like that were a perfectly normal (but thankfully infrequent) occurrence for most of us. The last couple of years, however, have been anything but normal.
Unprecedented and overnight changes in how and where we work, increased strain on work-life balance, and the constant worry over our/our family’s health has exhausted us mentally and physically. And that’s meant more days than we’d care to admit of feeling unhappy, uninspired and unmotivated at work. Worse, it may have turned bad days into bad weeks or even bad months for some of us.
But the good news is (and there’s always good news!), there are plenty of ways to boost your motivation.
Give yourself a break…a really big one.
You’re not alone if you’ve been blaming yourself for feeling the way you do. The thing is, though, there are scientifically proven reasons why you’ve been so unmotivated and exhausted. And like everyone else in the pandemic boat, you haven’t been able to rely on routine (as you typically would) to help abate the anxiety, stress and uncertainty of what you’ve been dealing with.
You must remember this is an extraordinary situation—one most of us have never experienced—and cut yourself some slack.
Reflect on how your work impacts those around you.
Sometimes, feeling unmotivated can come from a belief that the work we do doesn’t make a difference. And while that may be true in a grand, world-changing sense, it most certainly isn’t true when it comes to having an impact on the people you spend your workday with.
Take time every week (or daily even) to reflect on and write down how your work has helped your coworkers. Doing so will deepen your connection to them and, as studies show, lead to an increase in motivation and productivity.
Manage both your time AND energy.
It’s possible you’re a time management pro, fully scheduling out each day to maximize productivity. While that’s a useful skill, it doesn’t consider the energy needed to perform each task. And if you’re depleting your energy without a plan to replenish it, you’re likely growing more exhausted and unmotivated.
Besides just allotting time to a task, consider how much of your daily energy it will use and have a plan to replenish it. You might even consider using energy management instead of time management to plan your day.
Step away from social media during working hours.
Who among us can honestly say they don’t go off on a social media tangent a couple of times (or more!) throughout the day? After all, it makes us happy to see photos from our bestie’s vacation. But we’re likely also perusing content that adds to our anxiety, stress and uncertainty (eg pandemic, politics), which can exacerbate our lack of motivation.
Try to avoid social media during the workday. True, this may be the most difficult suggestion yet, so check out these smartphone apps for help. Or Cold Turkey for your desktop.
Give someone else advice on how to boost motivation.
Even though you may have gained knowledge on how to boost your motivation (like reading this article!), it’s possible you’re feeling enough of a lack of confidence in that knowledge to act on it.
Since we know one of the best ways to deepen our knowledge of a subject is to teach it, take time to advise others who are also struggling with feeling unmotivated. Doing so will help build enough confidence in what you’ve learned to shift your own motivation meter by moving from knowing to doing.
Everyone has bad days from time to time. Everyone struggles with feeling unmotivated and uninspired from time to time. Everyone procrastinates from time to time. Everyone feels exhausted and out of energy from time to time.
And that’s OK.
But while all of this is normal, when bad days multiply and/or those feelings linger, it can be a serious problem; one that could lead to full on burnout.
Just take it one step at a time. And remember, you’re not alone.