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Published on January 20, 2021

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

4 Most Critical Motivation Theories to Boost Your Productivity

We all dream big about how our lives should be, but it’s the motivation that drives us to act consistently towards making those dreams a reality. However, despite our best intentions, for a lot of us, this motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes, and the fluctuating drive often takes a toll on our productivity. For centuries, psychologists have been fascinated and intrigued by human behavior and have developed various motivation theories on what drives humans to act a certain way.

Let’s look at how you can use these motivation theories to boost your productivity.

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

Understanding that there is a direct link between satisfaction and productivity is the easiest way to move towards increased efficiency. Think about it—if your work gave you a sense of pleasure and satisfaction instead of stress, would you complain about work or procrastinate? The question we must ask ourselves then is, “what brings work satisfaction?”

Frederick Herzberg’s motivation theory explains two types of factors that can be used to regulate our levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction—hygiene and motivation factors.[1]

Hygiene factors are the bare minimum essential aspects that prevent dissatisfaction. While the presence of hygiene factors will not give rise to enormous satisfaction, the absence of this satisfaction will create extreme discontent. Hygiene factors include compensation, job security, social needs, work environment.

How Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory Increases Your Productivity

1. Compensation

Being underpaid is the silent killer of satisfaction. If you’re continually feeling undervalued or taken for granted at work, then compensation can be the problem.

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Observe yourself in a regular workday and assess if your lack of motivation to work arises from not getting paid what you deserve. If so, then it’s time to rake up the courage and ask for a raise or renegotiate the pricing for your services, so you feel rightfully compensated for your time, energy, and efforts.

2. Work Environment

Your environment has to be conducive to your productivity. Whether you work from the office or home, choose a spot where you can work uninterrupted. De-clutter your desk, decorate it to your personal preferences, and set the ambiance right to get you going as soon as you enter your work environment.

3. Socializing Needs

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, building harmonious relations is key to developing a healthy state of mind.

4. Security

You cannot be productive or motivated if you’re constantly feeling insecure about your role. If you’re an employer, ensure that security for your team members to flourish and thrive. If you’re employed, reach out to your supervisor to have a conversation on your role, position, and the company’s vision to get that confidence.

Motivator Factors

Once the basics are right, Herzberg identifies another set of factors called motivator factors. These help individuals’ level-up their performance and motivate them to work harder.

Here are some examples of motivator factors:

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  1. Engaging in Meaningful work: We are much more productive if we believe in what we are doing. Find meaning in what you do and be clear on why you’re doing what you do—this is the ultimate way to boost your productivity.
  2. Celebrating Wins: Often, we fail to recognize our accomplishments and celebrate what we get right. Being mindful of the tasks on your to-do list and having a small ritual at the end of the day to celebrate accomplishing them can motivate you to work harder to celebrate more often.
  3. Identify rewards: Humans are aspirational, and knowing what rewards you’ll get for the work you do can be a great way to keep yourself going. Rewards could be a promotion you become eligible for or a trip to Iceland on hitting that business turnover goal. Defining the reward and visualizing it can be a great way to boost productivity and stay motivated.

Today’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygiene because the latter stop influencing their behavior once they achieve them. So, as you grow, you need to upgrade your motivator factors to fuel the drive that keeps you going.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the most relatable motivation theories. The theory is based on the fact that nothing motivates us more than our own needs.

Here, humans’ needs are bifurcated into a hierarchical manner from a lower order to higher order forming a pyramid. Once a given level of need is satisfied, it no longer serves to motivate a person. Then, the next level of need becomes the motivating factor.

The 5 levels of needs, according to Abraham Maslow, are:[2]

  1. Physiological needs: This is the primary and most basic need of any human being-the survival need for food, shelter, air, water, etc. Physiological needs are most critical as the human body cannot function optimally unless these needs are fulfilled.
  2. Safety needs: Once survival is assured, humans begin to long for safety and security. Examples of safety needs are emotional security, financial security, protection from physical danger, health and well-being, etc. Fulfilling these needs requires more money, and hence humans are motivated to work harder.
  3. Social needs: Humans are social beings. Our need to socialize, longing for companionship, and craving to belong comes next in the hierarchy. For example, friendships, love, trust, and a sense of belonging to a tribe or community are required to better quality of life.
  4. Esteem needs: We have the need to be respected. Fulfillment of these needs leads to building self-confidence, realizing one’s own strength, capability, and value.
  5. Self-actualization needs: Only when all other needs are fulfilled does the self-actualization need comes into the picture. This is the highest spiritual aspiration where one can dive within and become the best version of oneself. Maslow estimated that only 2% of the people would reach the state of actualization.

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Increases Your Productivity

According to the theory, the lowest level of unmet need is the prime motivator of behavior. Figure out where do you stand in the hierarchy, which is your unmet need. That is your motivator. Take steps towards fulfilling those needs so that you can move towards self-actualization ultimately.

Begin with making concrete plans to fulfill your fundamental needs—safety and financial security. Then, look at love and belonging.

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Do you have like-minded people you connect with? If not, find ways to meet new people and form relations. It could be a spin class or a yin yoga session nearby. Be a part of social groups or communities and engage in meaningful conversation.

For the self-esteem needs, examine your life and assess if you engage meaningfully across. If your career seems stagnating, explore how you can transition to more challenging job opportunities. If your personal life seems to be slacking, have conversations with your significant other to see how you can make your relationship stronger and meaningful for both of you.

When all these needs are met comes the biggest question of finding your purpose. Each of us has unique experiences that make specific work more meaningful to us than others. Finding your purpose is finding that area of work that speaks to you and calls to you and finds expression through you. You can introspect to identify this for yourself or work with a coach to find your true calling and chart out the path towards living that life for yourself.

Hawthorne Effect

Another useful motivation theory is the Hawthorne Effect, which suggests that there exists a tendency to work harder and perform better when we are being observed. During an experiment, researchers altered several physical conditions to affect productivity, but employee productivity increased each time.[3] The study proved that we are motivated to work harder and perform better when we know that our work is being observed.

How the Hawthorne Effect Increases Your Productivity

At work, this happens automatically as we all have supervisors and leaders observing and evaluating our performance periodically. So, we don’t slack professionally. However, since we are not answerable to anybody in our personal lives, we end up dropping the ball.

A simple way to implement the Hawthorne Effect in your personal life to boost productivity is to have an accountability buddy. You don’t need a boss or your supervisor to keep an eye on you twenty-four seven. All you need is a buddy.

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  1. Pair up with your friend or co-worker to be your accountability buddy. If your friend is from the same field, even better.
  2. Communicate your short-term—weekly or daily—goals to each other.
  3. Design a schedule on how you plan to achieve these goals and monitor each other’s progress
  4. For better control, you can even decide punishments if the other one fails to achieve their goals.

Personal growth can be fun and fulfilling with an accountability partner by your side throughout the journey.

Expectancy Theory

This motivation theory states that our behaviors are directly influenced by the results we expect as an outcome of our actions.[4]

The theory proposes 3 elements our motivation relies on:

  • Expectancy: We act based on how likely our efforts are expected to deliver favorable results. Our expectations are molded by our past experiences, self-confidence, and the level of difficulty of the goal we plan to undertake.
  • Instrumentality: This is the belief that we will receive the reward if we put in the necessary efforts or behave in a particular fashion.
  • Valence: This refers to how valuable the reward is to an individual. For some, money could be a powerful motivator while for others, recognition is. Our motivation is higher when the reward is valuable for us.

How the Expectancy Theory Increases Your Productivity

Whenever you set intentions for yourself, spend time actually penning down why you’re aspiring for the goal and the results you hope to achieve. This is why vision boards are beneficial because you visualize the outcome of your efforts, which motivates you to keep at it.

For any goal you are working towards, write out the outcomes you anticipate, how you will feel when you achieve them, and why the result is crucial to you. As you work towards it, review this document time and again to keep yourself motivated.

Final Thoughts

Motivation theories provide insight into how we can find that motivation in our daily lives and be more productive. As we start a brand-new decade, it is time we make our dreams a reality. Employ the motivation theories that resonate most with you and enhance your drive and energy to work towards your goals consistently, and make it count.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last for long. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar

More Tips on How to Increase Your Motivation

Featured photo credit: Cam Adams via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Shwetha Sivaraman

Entrepreneur, Podcaster, & Life Coach @BeingMeraklis

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Last Updated on March 4, 2021

8 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

8 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life. Everyone occasionally feels overwhelmed by expectations, responsibilities, and a lack of time. However, dwelling on feelings of overwhelm and letting them knock you off course can be detrimental to both your mental health and your productivity.

If you find yourself saying “I’m overwhelmed” or feeling stuck with more than you can handle, here are 8 things to keep in mind to help you get through it.

1. These Emotions Are Natural

In the scope of the Earth’s history, human emotions are a fairly recent development. It’s no wonder we haven’t learned to peacefully coexist with them and end up fighting them on a daily basis.

It can often feel like these feelings should be easy to overcome, but feeling overwhelmed is a natural response to having too many things going on at once. It’s your mind’s way of telling you that you need to slow down if you want to live a healthier life.

Recognizing that overwhelm is your body’s way of trying to help you through difficult times can help shift the relationship you have with this emotion. Once you recognize it for what it is and invite it in without fighting it, you can begin to work with it to improve your feelings in a healthy way.

2. It’s a Breakdown of Thoughts, Not of Life

Our minds are powerful things, and feeling overwhelmed can feel like the end of life as we know it. In the book, As a Man ThinkethJames Allen says:

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“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

We have the power to manage our thoughts, and as a result, manage who we are and who we will grow to be. This involves making our mental and physical health a high priority.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your life isn’t falling apart—your thoughts are.

Take a minute to find and clean out all your self-deprecating, negative emotions and thoughts. As you do this, you will find yourself feeling refreshed and invigorated with renewed energy to take on the world.

3. Things Can Turn Around Quickly

Maybe you’re saying “I’m feeling overwhelmed” as you face a project at work and don’t think you have the energy or time to finish it. You start letting yourself play out every negative scenario resulting from a failed project.

Sitting on the couch and dwelling on these thoughts isn’t going to make anything better. In fact, it usually makes things worse.

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Things seem to fall in place as you chip away at a project and come to realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Here’re some tips to get you to start taking action: Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

4. You’ve Felt This Way Before

Think about the last time you felt overwhelmed. How did you overcome it? In the end, was it really as bad as you thought?

If you don’t learn from past experiences, you’ll find yourself suffering from the same problems over and over. Successful people are the ones who understand that every experience, good or bad, is valuable.

Go to a quiet place, and take as long as you need to remember previous times in your life you felt this way and how you overcame it.

5. Your Problems May Not Be as Bad as You Think

The best way to find out how good you actually have it is to take a break from worrying about your own life and do something kind for someone in a worse spot than you.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter or orphanage can help put your problems into perspective, and that tight deadline may not seem so overwhelming. Furthermore, acts of kindness can produce oxytocin, which can help you feel better all around[1]. This is vital when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

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6. It’s Easy to Keep Doing Nothing

Your situation changes quickly when you start doing something, but it’s always easier to continue doing nothing. The mind generally doesn’t react well to change and will do its best to help you keep doing what you’ve been doing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that may mean it tries to make you do nothing.

Those who overcome their struggles quickly are the ones who never give up, even when they feel that all is lost. At times, it might feel like there is nothing you can do, but that is exactly when you need to do something.

How will you ever know for sure there was nothing you could do if you didn’t try? At the very least, you will find personal confidence in knowing that you did everything you could.

Grab the Boost Your Motivation Instantly Worksheet for free now, and find out what you can do immediately to regain your lost motivation and move forward.

7. Gratitude Can Help Immensely

In a world of people obsessed with putting their best self forward, it’s easy to feel like everyone has more than you.

Get that thought out of your head, and remember what you do have. Often, the things you have right now are things you were worried about having in the past. Don’t let an insatiable desire for more blind you from seeing and appreciating everything you have right now.

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Gratitude can combat feelings of overwhelm by bringing you into the present, which will combat worries of the future. Once you’re in the now, you can focus on what you need to do to get past feeling overwhelmed and overcoming the many things coming at you at once.

If you don’t know what to do you’re overwhelmed, take some deep breaths and try to start a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

8. People Want You to Succeed

Remember there are people in your life who want you succeed. Your life touches so many others, and there are people out there rooting for you.

These people are part of your support system, and you can turn to them each time you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can call them for a quick pep talk, invite them out for coffee if you need a break, or even ask them for help with your overwhelming list of things to do.

The Bottom Line

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life that comes from trying to always take on more than we should. This feeling is difficult to avoid in today’s world, but there are things you can do to reduce those feelings once they do arise. Remember the reminders above whenever you’re not sure how to move forward, and you’ll soon find yourself on the other side.

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Featured photo credit: nikko macaspac via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Cedars Sinai: The Science of Kindness

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