How to stay motivated at work

Finding it hard to keep the motivation levels up? Benjamin Brandall can help you.

Before we get started, let’s get something out of the way. I can’t tell you what your perfect system will be for staying productive at work.

Not gonna happen.

Everybody works differently and responds to some things better than others. For example, I love putting on some music while I work, but to others that might become their biggest distraction. I work best in the mornings and so do my most difficult tasks then, but you might work better in the dead of night.

And while I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do to stay motivated at work, I can give you a system which you can use as a guideline to find what works best for you.

So, dive with me into the six core ideas you need to use when creating your foolproof system for staying motivated at work.

Create a routine

Whether you want to improve your writing or close more sales, having a routine is crucial for maintaining any kind of consistent motivation in your work.

It doesn’t matter whether you do the same thing every day or have a weekly routine where you cycle through locations every day. As long as you consistently stick to whatever routine you’ve set, eventually it will become your regular habit.

My advice is to start by focusing on your daily routine, as this is where you’ll see the biggest benefit in your motivation over time. Start off by planning what time you’re going to get up, when you’ll take your breaks, and above all else where you’re going to work. What background noise will you have? How will you limit potential distractions? How will you make sure that you stick to your routine?

Stop leaving your motivation at the mercy of every little roadblock that gets in your way. Create a process and never have to hesitate again.

All these questions need to be answered, but in doing so you’ve taken the biggest step towards staying motivated at work. Habits are easy to settle into, so if you make your routine your habit, you’ll default back to it when you start getting distracted.

Know why each task is important

Routines are good, but if you don’t have the motivation to keep them up (or start in the first place) then you’re not going anywhere. That’s why it’s crucial to know why you’re doing the work you are. More specifically, you need to know (and agree with) why each task you do is important.

In his book The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber talks about how to make a small business work, and one of the major points he highlights is that if your team doesn’t believe in your goals, they won’t stick to your carefully crafted business processes.

You’re exactly the same – if you can’t see the value in a task or at least picture and understand the greater goal the work serves, you’re never going to have the motivation to complete it.

Have a consistent method for your repeated tasks

Speaking of processes, creating consistent methods to follow for tasks that you do more than once is a great way to give your output a little consistency.

Not only that, but by recording a set of instructions which you (or anyone else) can follow to complete your work to a consistently high quality, you’re taking human error out of the equation. Say goodbye to all that wasted time spent remembering what you need to do next or second guessing yourself over what you’ve already done.

Stop leaving your motivation at the mercy of every little roadblock that gets in your way. Create a process and never have to hesitate again.

Know when to take a break

You’re not a machine, so don’t try to work like one.

Even the best of us need to take breaks to make sure that we don’t burn out too quickly in the day, so you need to do the same.

I will say that this is one of the most variable points in this system. The time and length of the breaks you should be taking will vary wildly, and the only true way to see what works best is to test a routine yourself.

However, I would recommend starting off by taking a five to ten minute break every hour, and a half hour for lunch. If you need some help remembering when to take your breaks (or prefer small breaks more often), try using Pomello with the Pomodoro Technique to track your time and let you know when to stop.

Automate what you can

The best way to keep motivated is to do work that you can both see the point in and enjoy doing. Unfortunately, there are always tasks that fulfill neither of those criteria.

Data entry and management, invoice generation, document creation, all these and more are tasks which can clog up your workload while making it impossible to find the motivation to do any of it. Sadly, these are also vital tasks that need to be done to stay in business.

The solution? Automate everything you can.

By automating your processes you can get rid of tasks that you hate doing, letting you focus on work which actually needs a human response. To do this I’d recommend checking out Zapier – it’s a platform which lets your apps interact and complete tasks without you having to lift a finger.

Don’t forget to eat and drink

It might seem like a cop out last point to make, but if you don’t remember to fuel your body, your mind will quickly go walkabout. It’s easy to skip breakfast when you have a million and one things to do that day, but you’ll only take a nosedive later on if you don’t have the energy to keep going.

Breakfast, lunch, maybe a snack in between, and a glass of water to hand at all times. It’s simple stuff, but I promise it’ll make a world of difference.

Honestly, that’s all you need to start creating your own productivity system. Take this framework and play around with it – test different routines and break times, get creative with your business process automation, and keep tweaking until you find what works!


About the author

Benjamin Brandall is head of content marketing at Process St.


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