A study found that there are plenty of contributing factors to people not having the motivation to work. It’s not just a clear-cut case of workers being lazy; there are so many reasons why people procrastinate and hesitate to start their workday. Here are some factors to consider when trying to understand ourselves and workmates who may not be the most productive:
- It’s not a simple issue of lack of time management; we can’t tell chronic procrastinators to start working in the same way we can’t tell a clinically depressed person to be happy.
- According to the study, for many people, procrastination is more of a coping mechanism. People procrastinate because they don’t want to start doing something they know is unpleasant, like daily work tasks.
So how do we go around this reality? Suppose you can relate to the respondents of this study, and like them, you have been having a hard time convincing yourself to work. In that case, here are some practical tips for motivating yourself to work hard not just daily but also long-term.
Work towards specific goals and create visual reminders of them
If you have a clear idea of what you want out of life and why you’re still at your current job, you will have more tangible reasons to start working on a day-to-day basis. If you don’t have long-term goals, then you have no incentive to work hard to achieve short-term goals.
Now is the time to start drawing up life goals for yourself if you want to be more productive at work. Here are some tips for using goals to keep yourself motivated:
- Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).
- Once you’ve come up with goals that are S.M.A.R.T., pepper your office or workstation with visual reminders of these goals. For example, if you’ve set the goal of buying your own house, post pictures of your dream home on your desk. Or, if you’re not much of a visual person, research the best mortgage rates you can find and post those numbers where you can constantly see them remind yourself that you need to earn a certain amount of money to start the homeownership process.
Break down your daily tasks into smaller or more manageable tasks
Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? It’s simply the act of breaking up your tasks into small 25-minute tasks and taking five-minute breaks every time those 25 minutes end. The technique is considered effective for many people who have a propensity for procrastination. After every 25 minutes of being focused on a specific task, they feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.
You may not be able to finish everything during those 25 minutes, but the feeling that you started something is already enough to get you to keep going. Moreover, knowing that you will take five-minute breaks in between reminds you that you won’t be working yourself to the ground during your workday. Plenty of apps and websites facilitate the Pomodoro technique, many of them customizable according to your needs. Just look for one that best works for you.
Gain a healthy understanding of work
According to a study from May of this year, more than half of workers from the United States expressed worry that their bosses would judge them for asking for mental health days, even after studies found that more than half of American workers experienced some form of mental health dip ever since the pandemic began.
As long as we have an unhealthy relationship with our jobs, we will always suffer from workaholism or procrastination—there is no in-between. Workaholics are afraid that they will lose their source of income or sense of self-worth, while procrastinators will always see their work as drudgery and something they must do to live.
While it may be true and there is no invalidating it, seeing our jobs simply as duty will do nothing to help boost our productivity. Here are some healthy perspectives on work that we can adapt to motivate ourselves to work well:
- We have value outside of our jobs, which means we don’t have to work ourselves to the bone to gain other people’s approval.
- Our jobs are a means to an end—which is our family’s survival and health, as well as the achievement of our goals.
Having a healthy view of our jobs will allow us to strike a balance between overworking and procrastination.
At a time like the COVID-19 crisis, we need to be kinder to ourselves, especially as we navigate these treacherous waters. Be gentle with yourself as you fight procrastination, and you’ll find it’s a better way to boost productivity.