While these feelings are normal, they can become a serious distraction if they linger or intensify. Here’s how to get moving again.
“I have no motivation today.” Hands up if you’ve ever texted that to a friend or partner during the workweek. (*Gazes out into a sea of raised hands*)
It’s completely normal to feel unmotivated at times, especially about work.
Maybe there’s a task you’ve been ducking for weeks or a new project that’s taken the wind out of your sails. Whatever the cause, it can be downright impossible to get things done when those feelings hit.
And that’s okay.
Almost everyone struggles with feeling unmotivated and uninspired from time to time. In fact, when we surveyed hundreds of RescueTime users, we found that on average, people are just 60% motivated to do their daily work.
Yet while these feelings are normal, they can become a serious distraction if they linger or intensify. So what can you do when that feeling of being unmotivated for work just won’t go away?
THE PROGRESS PRINCIPLE: WHY TINY STEPS ARE BETTER THAN SHOOTING FOR THE MOON
Author E.B. White has a famous quote that goes like this: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”
The same goes for pretty much any task worth doing.
Most of us think of motivation as this mythical quality we need to “find.” But in reality, it’s far more accurate to say that motivation finds us. If you wait until you “just feel like it,” you’ll probably never do it. Psychologists call this “the motivation trap.”
“Motivation does not precede action, action precedes motivation.”
As we’ve written before, issues like procrastination and a lack of motivation are emotional issues. This means there’s no easy scheduling hack or time management tip that can save you.
Instead, the easiest way for you to get motivated is to just start.
In fact, when Harvard professor Teresa Amabile studied the diaries of hundreds of knowledge workers, she found that:
“Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”
She calls this The Progress Principle. Simply put, small wins build motivation, inspiration, and innovation. However, this doesn’t mean you can simply tick off to-dos or answer emails and feel motivated to push on.
Instead, The Progress Principle only kicks in when you do work on meaningful tasks. But how do you get that start when you’re feeling truly unmotivated?
If you want to take advantage of The Progress Principle you need to just start working. (Which is easier said than done when you’re in a total slump!)
However, there are a few simple exercises you can try to give you the jump-start of motivation you need.
1. LOOK FOR THE WAYS YOUR WORK IMPACTS THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU