How to survive at work when your motivation is gone
Living life with a full-time job while juggling all your other responsibilities – family, volunteering, your husband, your kids, personal projects – is tough. And if your motivation suddenly disappears? Yikes. That makes everything harder – but there are ways to cope with boredom at work. And these tips will help you through the rough spots on the job and get through the worst workdays.
These are tips and tricks that I use when I’m in a slump – like I am right now. The past year of personal strife has spilled over into my professional persona. It zapped all my motivation, triggered my depression, and it’s taking a toll on my productivity at work.
As a perfectionist, I don’t cut myself any slack. When my productivity suffers, everything suffers.
Do any of these happen to you, too?
- Procrastinating on projects and simple tasks until they’re piled so high you feel crushed under the weight of your irresponsibility (and wonder “what is wrong with me?”) in getting even the smallest things done.
- Lack of ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand and feeling frustrated and mad at yourself for how easily you get distracted.
- Eating all day long to fill the void and emptiness you feel inside (“this cupcake will make me feel better, right?”).
- Withdrawing and isolating yourself from co-workers and at company meetings and events – which only makes you feel more rejected by society and causes you to withdraw even more.
- You’re bored and depressed with the job you used to love and find ways to delegate your workload to someone else.
- Basic avoidance of all things – you spend your workdays on Facebook and Twitter to avoid voicemails, emails, and that never-ending to-do list you can’t seem to get done.
When boredom at work manifests in these ways, it makes your days long and your life feel empty and meaningless. And if you’re nodding your head as you read this, thinking to yourself “yes, this is me-maybe I’m bored with my job and that’s making me hate life,” I want you to know you’re not alone. The world is filled with stories of professionals who struggle with boredom every day.
But don’t give up. Don’t give in. Because we can get our mojo back.
Top tips to get through your workday when you’re bored
You didn’t make it this far in life by giving up. And while there are days it’s okay to give in – to give yourself a little self-love and self-care and bask in the glory of your pjs and do nothing – today isn’t that day.
Today we learn to cope with our boredom, reclaim our motivation, and have an amazing day at work.
1. Create a winning system
First, know that systems and routines are your friends. For me, being bored at work makes me not want to do anything at all. But we are faced every day with never-ending questions to answer and work to get done. Finding a routine and putting parts of your life on autopilot reduces the stress that comes with the workload so you can breeze through the day!
It’s the adage of “plan your work and work your plan.”
Grab your pen and some paper and write down those every-day tasks that you always do. Put them in order of priority and post it in a visible place so you can’t miss it when you get to work every day. (I have mine on a hot-pink sticky note stuck to my computer monitor.)
Here’s a little tip: the very first thing on your list should be “top 3 VIP tasks.”
Your VIP tasks are those things you have to get done today or those items that are weighing on you and will make you feel so much better if you just get them done and out of the way. The trick is to pick no more than three items. If you list more than three, you’ll get bogged down, feel overwhelmed, and won’t get anything accomplished.
My list looks like this:
Simple, right? But it works.
My days are filled with interruptions. Between phone calls, helping customers at the counter, and coworker requests, it’s tough to stay on task.
But this simple system works because whenever I get interrupted, I look back at my list and can pick up right where I left off (no stress or extra thought required!).
2. Take a break
I know, I know. Life is busy! And the work just keeps piling up. How can you expect to take a break with all these daily demands?
Take a tip from a top athletic market and “Just do it.”
Your work will be there waiting for you when you get back – it isn’t going anywhere. And unless there are extenuating circumstances (which there sometimes are), whatever you’re working on can wait five or 10 minutes while you catch your breath and clear your head.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Spend 10 minutes reading a book or magazine
- Get some fresh air by going on a short walk around the block
- Close your eyes and meditate
- Put your earbuds in and crank up the tunes to drown out the rest of the world
- Do yoga at your desk
- Plan a dream vacation
- Find cool projects and recipes on Pinterest
If you really can’t get away, simply sit back in your chair, close your eyes, and take a deep breath to summon the strength to keep going until you can find a few minutes to get away.
3. Start a hobby
I was careful to call this section “start a hobby” and not “find a hobby” because the stress of finding a new hobby can be daunting.
Don’t get stuck trying to find your “perfect” new hobby.
Just pick something and get started.
I started a blog two years ago and discovered my love for writing. Maybe you’ll try hiking and fall in love with the great outdoors. If you’re more of an indoor person, grab a good book and sip coffee while you immerse yourself in the story.
Whatever you think you might like (even just a little), it’s worth a try.
Starting a hobby will bring simple pleasures to your life. And, with any luck, finding a hobby to fill your life with joy outside of work will spill over into your workday and eliminate your boredom.
4. Bonus tip
And now for a bonus tip. This is something I’ve done recently and it’s made a huge difference in my life.
Being bored at work sucks the life right out of me sometimes. (You, too?) It makes me forget all the things that I love to do and I end up with a life full of “must do” tasks that don’t bring me any joy at all.
To counter this, I challenge you to make a list of all the things that bring you joy. Every little thing that brings a smile to your lips when you think about doing it, write it down. For me, my list looks like this:
- Coffee (with milk and sugar)
- Reading (I just picked up this book and it’s amazing)
- Games with family (we found Battleship at a thrift store a few weeks ago and it’s awesome)
- Movies with my hubby (a good date idea plus it’s nice to escape real life for awhile)
- Getting enough sleep (this is a big one for me – no sleep makes me cranky)
- Drinking water (I love Pepsi but drinking water makes me feel better)
Once you have your list made, I want you to find a way to incorporate all of those things into your life.
I know life is busy so don’t make yourself crazy by trying to fit them all in. Sometimes I can’t even find time for 10 minutes of “me time” in a single day – and that’s okay! But do make yourself a priority and find a few times each week to sprinkle these simple acts of self-love into your life.
You’ll feel better (I promise).
Now it’s your turn. Whether you’ve just realized you’re bored at work or have been for awhile, let me know what works for you.
How do you get through the day when your motivation is gone?
Interested in re-publishing this article on your blog or website? Awesome! All I ask is that you send me a quick note via my website so I can give you permission. Thank you!