How to deal with lack of motivation within the workplace

Niamh Brady typing on her laptop with a phone and diary beside her

Lack of motivation in the workplace can be frustrating and difficult. When you aren’t motivated, you still get the work done. But it takes so much more energy to complete each task, so you achieve less in the overall day. You end up feeling tired, stressed and dissatisfied. And that impacts your motivation for the next day. 

So what can you do? I’m here to let you know that the answer is more simple than you think. 

But first, let me tell you what the answer is not.

Implementing new productivity tools will not help you become more motivated at work. Planning your week will not keep you energised to show up day after day. These are things that will create positive working conditions and will allow you to work better, but they won’t motivate you to get started.

You may think that your personal “why” is the answer. It’s not. Creating a vision board, or writing your BHAG on a stickie note to put on your desk, is only effective if you are motivated in the first place. Let’s face it – if you’ve lost the joy of work then you are hardly going to sit down and focus on your vision. It’s more likely that you will be searching every job site and updating your CV. 

So, let’s look at what you should do.

The single, most effective thing you can do if you are suffering from a lack of motivation is to ask yourself one question. Who can I help today? 

By doing this, you are shifting the focus from yourself to someone that needs help. Somebody who you can create value for, who you can help do a better job. Studies have found that when people help others when asked, the helpers perceived that they had a greater impact and felt more engaged at work the next day. 

Take a second look at that question from your colleague and choose to see it as a request for help rather than yet another email. By changing your focus from “everything I have to do” to “who can I help?”, you are really changing your entire mindset.

You will get the work done and experience all of the feel-good feelings that go with helping others.

If you want to go one step further, the second question you can ask yourself is this: How can I help myself today?

This might be allowing you to focus and finish a task that has been taking up too much of your time. It might be tackling that item on your to-do list that has been keeping you awake at night so you can sleep better.

Focusing on the work from this perspective helps to look beyond the immediate work to the benefits you will receive on the other side. It may be a sense of accomplishment, or perhaps even relief. It may be that you are now free to work on things that are attractive to you.

Reigniting your motivation

The key to reigniting your motivation at work is not a big, drastic change. It’s as simple as reconnecting with your colleagues by helping them and creating a better tomorrow for yourself by clearing the tasks that are in your way. 

With all that being said, there are some days when you will still experience a lack of motivation and perhaps things outside of work creep in and take most of your energy. We can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore or try to push through them. Instead, I recommend embracing one of my favourite mantras – Embrace the good days and accept the other days.

Stay Well and Have A Better Workday



About Niamh

Niamh is committed to making the information and tools to improve productivity available to every professional who is striving to improve how they work and live.

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