Sometimes, it feels like there’s never enough time to do all of the things you want to do—go for a run, call that friend you haven’t spoken to in six months, apply for a new job, finish that report you owe your boss, or send a card to your cousin who just got engaged. The list is endless, and it feels like it will only keep piling on. As soon as you cross an item off your to-do list, you’ve added two more.
You’re burnt out at work and you’re lagging in your personal life. Things are out of whack. But how can you stay motivated to continue doing a good job?
You might try listening to Lose Yourself thirty times, but you may still feel uninspired. It’s easy to let yourself fall into the trap and start mailing it in. You get into work at nine on the dot and leave no later than five.
But you’re a motivated person. This isn’t like you. What can you do to turn it around? How do you stay motivated when you get down like this?
You think to yourself, “I need to do something drastic.” Most of the time though, that’s the exact opposite approach you should take. It’s small, incremental changes and habits that will get you back on track. Sit down and write. Go for a walk and think through your affairs. Start small first.
So, what things can you do to avoid this feeling? How can I get myself out of the constant feeling I’m doing the best I possibly can? There are some simple steps to get you through the rut and focus on your priorities.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Here are 12 things that will always motivate you to do a good job.
1. Preparation Is Key
Before you go to bed, write down your plan for the next day. That way, when you wake up in the morning, you’re not immediately running through a thousand different scenarios in your head, anxious about all the things you have to do. You know that when you get to your desk, there is a gameplan completely mapped out just waiting to be attacked.
Doing this the night before not only reduces your stress levels but it also creates an organized path to productivity for the first critical hours of the day that will give you the momentum you need to carry through the rest of the tasks that come across your desk.
2. Make a List of All the Things You Want This Year
Developing a gameplan for the day is great and will get you moving and motivated, but chances are you also have a lot of long-term intentions in mind that may subconsciously be weighing you down. Start by writing down every single thing you want to accomplish in the next six to twelve months. All of them! Don’t stop writing until you’re empty.
Once you have that list—there may be 10 or 30 items—circle the three most important objectives. This is something that Tony Robbins talks about in his bestseller, Awaken the Giant Within. Narrow your priorities. Focus solely on the most important tasks and nothing else.
3. Find a Trigger
Develop a personal prompt to kickstart each day. Every now and then, you consume something that provides you with a massive spark of inspiration. This is key to knowing what motivates you to do a good job. It could be a good book, an inspirational sports movie, or a great TED talk you just watched. Many writers listen to the same playlist over and over again while they’re writing.
Lin Manuel Miranda, famous for his role in the broadway musical Hamilton, created a playlist for when he encounters writer’s block with songs by Fiona Apple and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. It’s his trigger to get down and dirty—to source his creativity. As soon as he hears that song, he knows it’s time to turn on and work.
4. Focus on Discipline and Routine
In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear calls out how comedian Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes on a yellow legal pad every single day for two hours. At the end of his writing sessions, he marks that day on the calendar with a big X to continue his daily streak. Not breaking that streak is what keeps him motivated.
In a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss, director and writer Brian Koppelman cited Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Think About When I Think About Running as one of his favorite books on discipline, and I agree. It’s not a book about running, as the title may suggest. It’s about discipline and sticking to a routine process—a method that is boring but results in the greatest outcomes.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
5. Eat the Frog
Mark Twain suggests starting your day with your most difficult task. He calls it “Eating the Frog.”
If you’re dreading that one looming assignment, why not get it out of the way as soon as possible? As soon as you’re finished, the weight is effectively off your shoulders and you can focus on the rest of the day, relaxed and relieved you finished the hard stuff. It’s tough to get through—like swallowing a big frog (not that I know from personal experience)—but once it’s over with, you just may have to burp a couple of times!
6. Use the Pomodoro Method
Something I’ve always adhered to is a method of working called the Pomodoro Method, which is just a fancy term for taking a HIIT exercise approach to other areas of life (it’s named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer tomato).
On for 25 minutes; off for 5 minutes. This is something I’ve done since elementary school. It’s the way I studied or did homework through high school and college—twenty or so minutes of intensely focused work followed by a short break.
The time limit is arbitrary. I sometimes do thirty minutes of work and ten minutes of rest, or one hour of work followed by twenty minutes of rest. Play with it and see what works. You shouldn’t be staring at a screen for that long anyway. Step aside, take a breather, and look out to the horizon. It’s just the mental reset you need to motivate you for the next working session.
7. Treat Yourself
Reward yourself when you finish an important task. If you get through a difficult assignment after an hour of hard work, go for a walk. Treat yourself to an iced coffee or a handful of delicious blueberries. Every now and then, you need to take a breath and enjoy the fact that you accomplished something difficult. Sit back and reflect on it over a good book, a delicious snack, or even a bottle of wine. You’ve earned it!
8. Know That the Work You Put in Will Boost Your Reputation
Any time I think of slacking off, I feel like my reputation is being put on display. I picture my peers secretly saying to themselves, “he doesn’t work hard.” But when I work hard and put in that extra effort, I know it’s not going to go unrecognized. Even if it does, I have the personal satisfaction that I did the best I could.
Do the right thing, regardless of who’s watching, because it’s the right thing to do. Many times you may go unappreciated for months but eventually, that hard work gets recognized. What goes around comes around, and you’ll know no one will ever be able to say you didn’t earn it. That’s what’s important.
9. Act Like Your Role Model Is Watching You
Every time I sit down to write, I imagine all of my favorite writers watching me from afar. What would they want me to do? Should I have my phone next to me? Probably not. Eliminate distractions. You know in your heart what you should be doing, and if you act like your idol is watching you, that imaginary archangel will keep you straight.
10. Learn New Things
Unless you’re an expert who’s been in their field for decades, chances are there’s something else you can learn. Pick up a book on a new topic, ask a colleague in a different department to show you what they do, or take an online course. Learning something new is difficult, but it’s a personal investment into yourself that never depreciates. This will also help you discover what motivates you to do a good job.
As Miyamoto Mushashi says, “If you know the way broadly, you will see it in everything.”
11. Help Others
Coaching or mentoring is a great way to stay motivated and excited about what you do. Nothing makes you realize you’re understanding of something like teaching it to someone else!
12. Set a Time to Stop
It may sound crazy but sometimes, you just need to set a quiet time for yourself. “No matter what, at 6 pm I am closing my laptop.” This will help you keep your priorities straight and make sure that you’re fitting everything you need to do into the working hours you set for yourself. It also sets boundaries with your colleagues that notify them of when to expect things from you.
As you can see, there are a ton of easy-to-implement approaches to stay motivated! Whether it’s managing your time, creating a “Work” playlist, or just making a list—doing a good job is as easy as you make it on yourself.
Remember, you don’t have to do anything drastic or makeover your entire life. Start with the simple steps that will make your day just a little more enjoyable. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing praises from the ones who care.
More Tips to Motivate Yourself to Do a Good Job
- How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now
- 8 Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Reach Goals
- How to Motivate Yourself
Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com