How to Stay Motivated at Work (10+ Tips from Professionals)
How do you stay motivated at work? Some days, you wake up ready to tackle whatever the day throws your way. On others, it’s like a unicorn. You can’t even catch a fleeting glimpse of it.
Factor in the COVID-19 pandemic, with no end in sight to working from home, and it can be a struggle to find the focus to stay on task, let alone the inspiration to move forward.
Luckily, it’s not just you. But how do others find their motivation? To find out, we surveyed professionals across multiple industries, asking them not only how they get inspired, but how they keep up the momentum, even when faced with yet another day on Zoom from the kitchen table.
Here’s what they said.
How to Stay Motivated at Work
Get to Know Your Why
When you’re struggling to keep yourself motivated, it can be helpful to go back to the basics.
Remember why you chose the particular career path you’re on or why you took that job offer. In the daily grind, it’s normal to lose sight of the bigger picture. Getting it back in view may be the only motivation you need.
“Knowing why you do something can keep you fueled and driven. Motivational quotes may get you going initially but they won’t sustain you. You need to seek the bigger picture. The key here is to know your purpose. Why are you doing something? What’s in it for you if you accomplish that something? And what would happen if you fail? Once you truly grasp the answer to these questions, you’ll be fueled and motivated to do anything – and nothing can stop you.”
Israel Gaudette, CEO, Linktracker.pro
Set Clear, Reachable Goals
Setting goals is easy. Reaching them is the hard part. Breaking goals up into multiple small and achievable objectives can make especially formidable jobs more manageable. It allows you to tick more tasks off your list and creates a more routine sense of accomplishment.
“When it comes to motivation, a dozen small victories are better than one huge win. So set clear and reachable goals to help you maintain motivation for prolonged periods of time. Being constantly motivated or inspired is unrealistic, but dividing your workload into measurable units that you can achieve relatively quickly helps you make more frequent gains. Each task that you complete will give you a small inspiration boost that makes handling the rest of the work easier.”
Mladen Maksic, SEO Consultant and CEO, Play Media
Track Your Progress
What’s better than feeling like you’re making progress? Making actual headway. Whether you use a collaboration tool for task and project management or a simple spreadsheet, visualizing your gains can provide you a huge sense of achievement.
“I track and review my progress in a spreadsheet, with the goals arranged vertically in rows and the steps/tasks to be done across the columns. Once a task is started, it is marked in yellow. As it is completed, it is highlighted in green. Seeing that green area grow is a motivator! Looking at how far you’ve come is inspiring, and you can then challenge yourself to make even more progress. On days when motivation and energy are low, I just pick an easier step or task to start. Once I wade into my work, I find my motivation increasing.”
Carol Archebelle, Digital Marketing Manager, Foundations Wellness Center
Gamify Your Workday
Rewards are a major motivator no matter how you spin it. You could create a competition to incentivize outstanding performance company-wide or gamify your own performance with rewards after a job well done. Whatever it takes to inspire productivity – a new pair of shoes, a meal out, or a cup of coffee after completing a task – you set the parameters.
“When I’m having a low-motivation day, I can usually trick myself into being productive by ‘gamifying’ my workday a bit. I choose a few tasks that I know I can finish relatively easily and reward myself with a minute break to get a cup of coffee or stretch after completing each one. If I still can’t find my focus, I do it again, picking out a few tasks and taking small breaks between them. I can get through an entire shift this way if necessary, but usually, this gets me into a rhythm and lets me find my motivation to tackle larger or more complicated tasks.”
Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO, The Energists
The human brain can focus for about two hours before needing a break. Luckily, there are tons of healthy ways to conserve your focus and motivation. Whether it’s the Pomodoro Technique, some meditation, a tech break, a brain game, or any other method, different techniques work for different people. So don’t hesitate to experiment and find what works best for you.
In fact, consider scheduling breaks throughout your day to ensure you take them and stay mentally fresh. The team behind classic gaming platform Solitaired.com, for example, began requiring a 5 to 10-minute break every hour and found that their team productivity improved 23%.
“Taking breaks has really helped my efficiency and motivation. I swear by the Pomodoro Theory which breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. Once you successfully repeat the technique X number of times, you can take a longer break. It helps to make some of the breaks active, too. For the short breaks, I suggest taking a quick walk, stretch, or anything which will get you off the screen and out of the desk chair.”
Marja Verbon, COO, Jump
Find a Release
Too much time at work is both a huge productivity killer and a destroyer of motivation. It can lead to burnout and myriad health concerns. And it devours time that you should be spending on self-care. Whatever your passion, make time for it. Hobbies and interests provide an important release from mental and physical fatigue which can derail your well-being and career.
“Physical exercise is a great way to relieve stress. For others, CrossFit or martial arts are the answer. Paintball, cricket, racquetball, and bowling are among the activities enjoyed by some. Many people play video games, while some would rather go to a shooting range or swim a hundred laps in a pool. It’s crucial that you find a safe way to vent your frustrations. And it doesn’t matter how, as long as it’s not detrimental to yourself or others.”
Daniel Foley, SEO Manager, Litta
Stay Focused and Inspired Working from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional work environment. While many tips for staying motivated in the office can help you while working from home, remote work comes with all new challenges to motivation and morale, such as loneliness, barriers to creativity, and communication issues.
Dress the Part
No one’s suggesting you don a suit while working from home. Comfort is important, especially during trying times such as these. But getting out of your PJs and into something more work-oriented signals that the workday has started and helps you associate with routines that can be harder to come by when working remotely.
“Getting fully dressed for work puts you in the right frame of mind to conduct business, letting you be more focused and sharper than if you were wearing pajamas. As much as you might want to wear sweats with your work shirt while working from home, it’s best to dress head to toe like you are headed to a real meeting. Try going a week completely dressed up for work and see how big of a difference it makes on your motivation!”
Nina Jensen, Community Outreach Manager, 8×8
Meet as a Team
It’s important to come together as a team outside the confines of task-related talk. Even though everyone’s a bit Zoom-fatigued, remote team-building activities don’t have to be daunting. Sharing a virtual meal or setting up a channel for casual group chat can help the team to keep sight of the bigger picture and stay motivated.
“We found that doing a remote team lunch is a fun way of bonding. Everyone gets to order their favorite food for delivery and the team eats together while on a video conference. Yes, it’s another video conference BUT the positive side is that it’s not a formal meeting. Plus everyone gets to pick their favorite food, unlike in-person team lunches where you really can’t please everyone.”
Julie Aragon, CEO & Founder, the Julie Aragon Lending Team
If you don’t have the luxury of a home office, the boundary between work and leisure can quickly blur. To remain effective, take measures to separate your work environment from your personal life. Set clear start and end times. Organize your desk and materials. And adapt your workspace to make it more conducive to productivity.
“I figured since my home office would be a place that I will be spending much of my day, I should make it a place that I enjoy being in. This included organizing my desk, investing in a comfy ergonomic office chair, installing some LED light strips behind my desk, and setting up a place to display my favorite items and achievements. Adding that personal touch really transformed my home office into a place where I can step into the zone and feel good at the same time.”
Alex Perkins, Co-founder, All the Stuff
Engage Your Coworkers
Remote workers often feel disconnected and aloof, which can quickly squash the impulse to be productive. Tools such as screen sharing and virtual whiteboards allow coworkers to keep one another engaged. Pairing these tools with audio and video calling makes for a more dynamic and worthwhile experience when in-person collaboration with your team isn’t possible.
“I try to engage in audio calls with my coworkers during working hours. This allows you to have conversations while working and conveniently ask for suggestions and approvals. A call keeps you tied to your desk, and you avoid roaming around, wasting any time. Motivation comes back once you make work exciting for yourself, and a good environment is vital for that.”
Elizabeth Hicks, Co-founder, ParentingNerd
Good Internal communication is a crucial factor driving motivation in the workplace. Many companies rely on instant messaging apps for business to enhance their internal communication and boost the work environment. Offering a variety of real-time messaging and collaboration features on a unified platform, real-time communication software improves engagement, helps build stronger relationships, and lowers the chances of morale-crippling conflicts.
“Communication is everything. People are social creatures that feel connected through communication. When you chat with the people your work directly affects, it can light a fire and remind you why you do your job. A company-wide messaging software offers plenty of communication, and a tight-knit community breeds a more motivated workforce.”
Brian Dechesare, Founder, Breaking into Wall Street
If your team is suffering from a lack of motivation due to poor communication, try Brosix. With rich, real-time messaging and collaboration capabilities and robust administrative control options, Brosix streamlines communication so your team can focus less on staying motivated and more on performance.