Boss Lady

How to stay motivated at work: psychology strategies and 9 tactics


If you’re currently sitting at work staring out the window while tasks build up in front of you, it might be time to read this. Staying motivated at work can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face in your career, but there are simple things you can do to re-ignite your enthusiasm. There are small hacks for how to stay motivated at work that can turn you into a driving force of motivation.

The psychology of how to stay motivated at work

Turn big tasks into smaller ones

It can sometimes be difficult to keep your eyes on the prize when you’re dealing with mammoth tasks, especially at work. Large tasks that might take a lot of time and effort can seem overwhelming and out of reach. Try breaking down the big tasks into smaller ones and ticking them off as you achieve them as a strategy for how to stay motivated at work.

By creating smaller and achievable goals, you can push yourself to be more motivated by rewarding yourself when you achieve them. Even if it’s the simple satisfaction of crossing it off your task list, those small accomplishments achieved on a daily basis are better than going days without feeling like you haven’t made any achievements.

Set visual cues

If you’ve been procrastinating at work and leaving tasks unfinished, this can be detrimental to your mental health. Procrastination over long periods of time can lead to anxiety and sometimes even depression, which can in turn affect other areas of your life, not just work. If you have tasks that must be achieved in certain timeframes, set visual cues around your desk as a prompt in how to stay motivated at work.

When your brain is filled up with words and analytical thoughts, visual cues can be the things that cut through all the chatter. Consider using post it notes with tasks outlined, or creating a mind map to clarify your thinking.

Visual cues can be a great driver for motivation in all areas of your life. From starting small with coloured post it notes through to creating larger mind maps and mood boards, this can be just the visual stimulation your mind needs to stay motivated.

Change your surroundings

For those that work from home or in the same office on a daily basis, this can be a big one for how to stay motivated at work. Changing your surroundings can reignite your motivation and improve your productivity. If working remotely or from a café isn’t something you can do, try moving desks in the office or facing a different wall – all these things can provide a new perspective.

Sometimes a small shift in scenery can mean a big shift in motivation. Different surroundings provide a new perspective whilst enabling you to interact with different people and which can also spark your creativity. For more information on what you can do to improve your environment and mental health, visit Peaceful Mind Psychology.

Change your regular routine

Similar to changing your surroundings, making a change in your regular routine can turn what often feels like ground hog day into a whole new experience for how to stay motivated at work. Consider walking a different way to work, buying your coffee at a different coffee shop, or even working different hours if it’s possible to do so.

As humans we are all creatures of habit, but it is important to break your regular routine. This hits the refresh button if you’re feeling like work is a little too mundane. It is important to note however that having a routine to start with is key, but breaking it every now and then is just as important.

Take regular breaks

You can’t expect to stay motivated if you’re already feeling tired, stressed or overworked. However, when you’re busy, taking time out of work can feel like the last thing you want to do. As counter-productive as it might seem, taking regular breaks actually increases productivity and helps in how to stay motivated at work.

Stepping out and taking a moment to refresh will help you stay motivated, whilst having a positive effect on your mind and body. It’s not healthy to sit for too long, and neither is it healthy to work nonstop. Hitting the break and refresh button regularly will help you stay on track with tasks, keep your energy levels boosted, change your work dynamic and in turn, increase your motivation.

Know when to seek professional help

Chronic procrastination can be a sign of underlying issues, such as excessive worry or perfectionism. Perfectionism is can lead to crippling fear that your work will never be good enough and this anxiety can hold you back from starting or completing projects. If procrastination is an ongoing problem for you seek out a professional to help you work through any underlying issues.

Motivation on the job: 9 small tactics to change your mindset

Most of the time, there isn’t one ultimate tip that will make you enjoy going back to work. As a rule, you have to tweak a number of parameters in order to achieve improvements. Here is some advice on how to increase your motivation:

1. Consoling thinking: A job is better than none

What sounds like little consolation has a real reason: people who don’t have a job are more unhappy than people with work. Without a job, we lack structures, social exchange with colleagues, a secure income and the feeling of being needed, among other things. Always make this clear to yourself when complaining about your job. But don’t be satisfied with that! Change something by implementing more tips from us.

2. Positive attitude

“My boss is stupid. My colleagues are stupid. The other departments are stupid. The whole company is stupid. ” Do you think so? Do you have the impression that everything and everyone around you is incompetent, lazy or unsympathetic? Is it really like you are the only top person in the company? Most likely not.

Don’t sink into your negative mindset. There are many things that go well in every department and company. Find those positives and bring them into focus for how to stay motivated at work. Hold on to the positive impressions instead of falling into a black mood.

3. What could make you happier?

Is a higher salary or a jump up the career ladder really the most important thing in your professional life? Or are there other things that can contribute to how to stay motivated at work? Make a list. Be completely honest with yourself when doing this.

For example, the topic of salary is usually overestimated. As various studies show, happiness fizzles out quickly with more money – and your motivation drops again. During the Corona period, many people noticed that working from home and other flexible ways of working gave their motivation a strong boost in the long term. Why? There was no longer any need to commute, working hours can be divided up freely, and there is more freedom for friends and family.

4. Initiate change

Old processes, inefficient tools: are there many circumstances that reduce your motivation? Don’t expect others to change them! Or at least not at the speed you would like it to be. Get active yourself for how to stay motivated at work! Instead of grumbling, you should actively help remove the “show stoppers”. Or that at least some hurdles are flatter. Think about concepts and strategies how you can work better, faster, more efficiently and more motivated. Introduce these to your manager and your team. And don’t give up immediately if there is resistance.

5. Educate yourself

Are you treading water, and there is no moving forward? Then make sure you can take real steps again for how to stay motivated at work. Broaden your horizons, for example, by training yourself with webinars, congresses and specialist books – and not just in your specialist area. Think outside the box! What other topics are there that you are advancing? As an online shop developer , you could familiarize yourself with artificial intelligence , virtual reality , design thinking or growth hacking .

Or you deal with topics that ostensibly have nothing to do with your job, but can still give you new perspectives in professional life. For example, you could learn old management wisdom, new sports, or manual activities.

6. Be kind

A tip that may sound just as banal. But it works! When you smile, approach colleagues in a friendly manner, and express yourself more positively than negatively, you are moving forward. The affirmative attitude, which you may have to overcome at the beginning, manifests itself in your inner being over time. And it shines outwards for how to stay motivated at work. You will notice that your team members and superiors approach you more friendly, talk to you more calmly, assign you better jobs or accept your suggestions for improvement with fewer contradictions.

7. Improve your time and task management

Do you often have stress and work piling up on your desk? One reason for this may be that you are doing your job the wrong way – namely, in an unstructured manner. You react instead of acting. You work through the tasks haphazardly. That creates chaos and stress.

Combat these frustrations by prioritizing your tasks and managing your time better . Use methods such as ABC analysis, Kanban or the Eisenhower principle. And eliminate annoying time wasters, for example by making meetings shorter and more efficient .

8. Celebrate your successes

Was it faster than you thought with a task? Have you been able to hold a regular meeting faster than ever? Have you completed a project? Celebrate the little successes! For example, treat yourself to a short walk, go to a different restaurant during the break, simply talk about your milestone or invite your colleagues to an after-work champagne or beer. If you give more space to positive aspects such as small and large successes, your motivation increases. You push yourself to have further successes in order to be able to celebrate them.

9. Get feedback

Is everything really as bad as you think? Are you really just a small cog in the system? And are the boss’s decisions really that stupid? Discuss it with others, such as your co-workers. Or seek an interview with your supervisor for feedback. When you realize that you have classified or seen some things incorrectly, it opens up a new perspective for how to stay motivated at work. Maybe you even have an “enlightenment”? This can trigger a strong motivational boost.

If you are experiencing problems at work and would like to seek professional help, contact Lysn today. If you are in a crisis, or experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts, contact 000 or your local emergency health service.

About Michelle Pal'

Michelle Pal is a psychologist at Lysn.

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