How to get motivated when you don’t feel like working

Flat lay view photo of working desk with a to do list note by side with smartphone and laptop on white wooden background. Top View flat lay photography.

I would love to say that life always goes smoothly and every workday is productive. But that is not true (at least not for me). Your workday may be derailed by your response to a Supreme Court ruling or blindsided by medical issues in your family (both happened to me last week).

Ten Ways to Get Motivated

I know that I am not alone. Whether it’s a difficult work project, political concerns, or family circumstances, there are times when you do not feel like working — but need to work anyway. Here are ten suggestions that have helped me:

  1. Recognize you are not alone. Nobody crushes their “To Do” list every day. Accept that motivation ebbs and flows, just like everything else in the natural world. You may feel differently in a few minutes or a few hours.
  2. Blame biology. Stressful situations trigger our brains to release stress hormones that tell us to flee, fight or freeze. Accept that your body is poised for survival and not creativity.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. Getting angry at yourself ramps up the stress hormones and makes it even more difficult to get work done. Show yourself compassion by acknowledging tough situations and reminding yourself that you’ll make it through.
  4. Take a break. Have you tried to get a car started when the battery is dead? It doesn’t work – no matter how many times you turn the key! I thought of this analogy recently after I tried (unsuccessfully) to write this blog post. My dad was undergoing emergency surgery and it was obvious that I was too preoccupied to write. I admitted defeat and left my writing for another day.
  5. Create tiny goals. Figure out how you can create momentum by crushing some tiny goals. In my case, I could accomplish less taxing goals by answering emails or posting to Instagram.
  6. Reduce your expectations. Decide what is realistic under the current circumstances. For instance, my blog posts are generally around 1,500 words. This blog post will be under 500 words and I’m okay with that. I give myself credit for showing up!
  7. Eat the frog. This is Brian Tracy’s philosophy from Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. Tracy recommends that you focus on the toughest, most important task first. If you have limited time and energy – and need to make progress on something — start here.
  8. Move to Plan B. This is the opposite of the eat-the-frog approach. Choose something that will help you move forward in your business, even if it feels inconsequential. This might be cleaning your office or watching a training video.
  9. Make it a game. Gamification is the process of turning a task into a game in order to motivate yourself to do it. In my case, I could earn a point for every page I edit. After every 10 points I am rewarded with a yummy treat or a break to watch Netflix.
  10. Refill your gas tank. When I have a tough time focusing on work, I recognize it as a warning that I’m not taking care of myself. It’s like trying to drive a car that is out of fuel. Spend extra time on self-care – eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep – to make sure that you have optimal energy.

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How to get motivated when you don’t feel like working
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