How to Stay Motivated When Work Doesn’t Feel Like a Priority

by on December 25th, 2012

Today’s post is by Sarah Fudin who works in community relations for the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online programs, which provide current and aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn an online Master of Education and MAT online.  

Having trouble staying motivated at work? You aren’t alone. Feeling a lack of motivation on the job is a common problem, and one that can lead to job dissatisfaction and even greater unhappiness. There are many reasons why people suffer from a lack of motivation on the job: Perhaps your work is not challenging, or perhaps it is not the job you had dreamed of; maybe you have a boss who micromanages you, or perhaps it is hard to get passionate about the work you are doing.

Whatever the reason, finding a way to motivate yourself to do your job well is possible. Here are some tips we found from others who are already doing it:

Neutralize your negative triggers.

As simplistic as it sounds, if you surround yourself with negative people and things, you will feel that negativity seep into everything you do, including your work. If you find yourself spending a lot of your time reading negative articles (and let’s face it: the media is full of negativity these days) or listening to friends or coworkers who consistently complain to you about their lives, their jobs or your mutual work environment, it will be much more difficult to find motivation to complete a project or goal at work. Neutralizing your negative triggers can be as simple as changing the language you use to describe something unpleasant — using the word “dislike” instead of “hate” when it comes to describing a task — or avoiding social media sites that will stir or create negative feelings while at work.

Maintain a positive attitude.

This tip goes hand in hand with neutralizing your negative triggers and may sound a little like that old proverb, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” That being said, maintaining a positive attitude is one of the most important things you can do to stay productive on the job and motivate yourself to do well. It can be as simple as making a list of positive affirmations you repeat to yourself while at work when you first get to work, when you are in the middle of your shift and when you have only a couple of hours left in the work day. Positive affirmations like, “I am lucky to have a job that provides for me and my family,” or “Today, I am going to do my job better than I did it yesterday,” or “I know I can complete this project on time” can all really make a difference. Whether or not you believe the affirmations you repeat to yourself is of little consequence; it’s a psychologically proven fact that positive affirmations have a positive effect on attitude.

Do only the work that matters.

Another way to say this is “work efficiently.” Often times, we get bogged down by work that is not necessarily a priority and end up dragging out the work that is actually more important or that has a more impending deadline. This also means that you do not take on extra work that is not necessarily your responsibility or work that will not provide a positive outcome for either you or the company you work for. If a project has no clear benefit for you or those who employ you, it most likely falls into the category of “work that does not matter” and should typically not be voluntarily taken on.

Stop caring so much.

This is a great tip for anyone who works in a large or corporate company. It is far too easy to get caught up in company policies or changes to the system you are a part of, and even easier to allow yourself to care about decisions that are made at the top of the chain of command that are not your responsibility. If you can adopt an attitude of apathy surrounding the things that are not within your control or territory, you will be much happier at work and able to maintain a much higher motivation to do a good job. This does not mean you should stop caring about the work you do or the people involved. It simply means that you limit your care to the things that you have direct contact with and allow everything else to take care of itself.

Take care of yourself.

Self-care is a skill that seems to be lacking in all levels of employment in the United States. Whether it be making sure you get the necessary six to eight hours of sleep each night or taking your vitamins or hitting the gym three times a week, self-care is important. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, your motivation to work will be one of the first things that begins to slip. If you’ve had a hard day at the office, the last thing your body and mind need are to come home and work some more. Find ways to disconnect for a few hours before bed each evening. Whether it be taking the time to cook a homemade meal, an hour to sit and catch up on your favorite television program or 30 minutes soaking in a bubble bath, it’s important to let your mind detach from the stress of the day before sleeping and beginning the next day.

After getting your working motivation back, take some time to explore what changes might make you happier. Are you looking for a different job altogether? If so, you can explore sites like Classy Career Girl, which offer tools that will allow you to discover what job you might excel at. In the end, you and no one else determine your motivation. Do what it takes to learn how to be motivated now, and later it will come naturally.

How do you stay motivated when work doesn’t feel like a priority?

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