We’ve all been there. You’re given an urgent assignment. It’s incredibly important for the company, your boss, or your team. But it doesn’t seem to matter how important or urgent the task is. No matter what you do, you just can’t motivate yourself to start.
People in all careers and industries face a lack of motivation at some point. It doesn’t matter whether you hate your job or love your job, motivation can elude all of us from time to time.
But knowing that doesn’t fix the problem. You still need to complete your task whether motivated or not.
Sometimes it’s obvious what’s causing the mental block. Other times, it is not so clear. If you’re unsure what’s blocking your motivation, this article may shed some light as well as give you a few pointers on how to get back to the task on hand.
1. You’re Overworked
If you’re already slammed with work, you’re not going to be motivated to work on another task.
Our brains can only hold in so much information, and our bodies can only do so much work in a day. If you are overwhelmed with other projects, your brain will shut down to give it some time to recharge. During this time, you’re not going to have any motivation to do anything, let alone the new task your boss just threw on your desk.
Not only does being overworked block all motivation, but it can be damaging to your physical health, mental health, and personal life.
If you’re frequently overworked, then you should discuss the issue with your supervisor. They may be able to allocate the work to someone else or come up with a timetable or workload that is more reasonable.
2. You’re Detached From Your Work
It’s hard to motivate yourself when you just don’t care about your work anymore.
This isn’t the same as hating your job or burning out. This is when you feel numb towards your work. This is a period where you either don’t see the point or just don’t care.
You won’t be able to get your motivation back until you figure out why you’re detached from your work. Is it an issue with your boss? Your company? Are you considering a career change? Sometimes detachment is temporary with an easy solution to bring back your motivation. Sometimes it is a sign that a bigger change is needed.
In some cases, it may be a sign that you should switch to a different career or industry. Talking with a career counselor or therapist can help you figure out what careers may be more inspiring for you.
3. You Don’t Know Where To Start
Sometimes you simply just don’t know where to start. Maybe the project is too big and overwhelming, and you can’t decide what needs to get done first. Or perhaps you struggle with perfectionism, so you are afraid to start because you fear that you can’t do the assignment perfectly.
Starting anywhere is better than starting nowhere. Freezing up from perfectionism or being overwhelmed is not going to get the project done at all. It’s best to just start anywhere, just so you can make some progress.
Breaking up the project into smaller goals can help as well. By breaking it down, the project becomes more manageable and it’s easier to see an obvious starting point. It’s far easier to motivate yourself to work on smaller goals rather than an enormous task.
4. You Have No Work/Life Balance
If you are overworked or working overtime, then you’re going to burn out pretty quickly.
The typical 40 hour work week was designed so people can have some downtime each day to recharge. But if you’re spending 50 or 60 hours working each week, staying logged on long after everyone has finished for the day, then your work is taking over your life.
A good work/life balance allows you ample time to recharge before logging back into work the next day. Working overtime can be a strain on your mental health and can easily block your motivation.
If this is the case for you, then have a discussion with your supervisor about your workload. You should also do some inner reflection to see if you can improve your time management skills. Sometimes people waste time while working because they don’t know how to efficiently organize their day.
5. You’re Exhausted
If you’re physically or mentally exhausted, you won’t have the energy to work efficiently.
Of course, you can always grab an energy drink or a coffee and hope it gives you the boost you need, but that isn’t a long-term solution. Besides, that extra shot of caffeine doesn’t always work out as planned as it may just give you anxiety instead.
If you are often physically exhausted, then make an effort to get more sleep. For example, if you have a habit of watching television late into the night, then turn it off an hour or two earlier. If you have a busy schedule, rearrange it and create boundaries to prioritize your time for sleep.
However, sometimes employees are exhausted mentally, not physically. Burnout is a common problem in the workplace that is not resolved enough. Sometimes you just hit a mental fog where nothing you do brings your motivation back.
According to the Harvard Business Review, burnout can be relieved by taking breaks throughout the day, scheduling long weekends and vacations, turning off devices while working, and ensuring your time off is full of restorative hobbies, not just television.
6. There Are Too Many Distractions
Taking an occasional break from your work is good for your mental health and may help with your motivation. However, if you are taking too many breaks or allowing too many distractions, this can make it much harder to get back to work.
A study by the University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of about 23 minutes to recover from a distraction. That means those frequent chats with your coworkers may be costing you hours of lost work. Once your brain switches from work to fun, it’s hard to motivate it to focus on work again.
Furthermore, the same study found that those who allowed themselves twenty minutes of interruptions reported far more stress and irritability. This makes it clear that although breaks are good, having too many worsen your job performance, motivation, and even your mental health.
7. You Don’t Like Your Job/Boss
When you love your job, it’s not too hard to remain motivated each day.
But what if you hate your job? Or what if you can’t stand your boss?
Those who hate their jobs (understandably) don’t have a desire to do them. It’s hard to remain motivated when you simply want nothing to do with the task at hand.
We all work jobs at times that we don’t like, and we all have stories about terrible bosses. But if your motivation has been struggling for a long time because you can’t stand where you work, you might need to consider a new career.
Motivation can elude us at the most inconvenient times. In many cases, it is only a temporary issue that can be fixed with a short break or a long weekend.
However, if you’ve lacked motivation for a long period of time, it may be time to make some significant changes in your career. After all, sometimes a lack of motivation can be a good thing as it signals that we are not where we want to be.
If motivation is eluding you, figure out what’s going on, do some inner reflection, and work to change your habits (or maybe your career) to get inspired again. If you’re looking for more information on motivation, or struggle to stay motivated in other areas of your life, head over to BetterHelp for more advice and tips.