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How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

If you are not motivated from the outset, you won’t have the impetus to take the first step you need to accomplish what you want. If you don’t find a way to stay motivated until you reach your goal, you won’t have the energy you need to get there.

Getting motivated about what you want to do is always easy; but staying motivated afterwards is far more challenging. It is far simpler to get motivated than it is to stay motivated.

How easily do you go from motivation to apathy? Zig Ziglar said it perfectly when he said that motivation doesn’t last, just like bathing, which is why it is recommended daily.

Here are 4 common reasons why you lose motivation and what you can do about it

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1. It is too far out of reach

One of the most common reasons to start losing motivation is when the task starts to get more difficult than anticipated. Have you ever felt really motivated to begin with, but as time goes by your motivation quickly disappears as you realize how challenging it really is? If you don’t feel confident that you can do what you want to and your goal seems too far out of reach, you won’t feel very motivated to take action.

  • If you start to lose confidence and hesitation occurs, don’t give up. First ask yourself; “What is making this so difficult for me?” You want to identify what is causing you to feel this way and what would give you more confidence to continue. Write down whatever comes to mind. It could be that you lack some skill, self esteem, clarity, or time, etc
  • Once you have identified what is causing this, you can now come up with ways to overcome this and you will feel motivated to keep going forward. Instead of giving up on your goal, find a way to feel more confident about your abilities, create mini-goals to support your bigger goal and get motivated again. If you give up because it becomes to difficult, you will be giving up on a lot of things in your life.

2. Feeling trapped

Have you ever felt motivated about what you are doing but felt stuck to take action on it at the same time? If you feel stuck you will procrastinate and quickly start to lose motivation to keep going.

Whenever you want to do something new or take action on a goal, you need to have your feelings and actions aligned. When your feelings are not aligned with the action, nothing will flow and you will feel stuck.When you feel trapped, check in with yourself and identify whether it is the action or your feelings that are stopping you. What are your thoughts and true feelings towards this goal and the actions that you need to take to get there?

Let’s say you are a freelancer looking to take on more clients, this is your main objective. One of the strategies you chose is to send out your portfolio and pitch potential clients. You know this strategy has a high success rate so you have decided to include it in your plan.

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  • If your feelings and thoughts are not aligned, you would think this is a good step to take, but you might then feel stuck because you lack confidence in approaching potential clients and selling yourself. You will get stuck and lose motivation.
  • If your actions are not aligned, you would feel confident in your abilities to sell, but you don’t think this is the best action to take to reach your goal, you reluctantly chose it because you read it was a good thing to do. You will get stuck and lose motivation.

Identity what is keeping you stuck and change what needs to be. Get unstuck and you will get the motivation you need to push forward.

3. You cannot see the return on your investment

Just because something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that you will immediately be motivated by it, you need to have a high return on investment. You need to see a clear and motivating connection between the efforts you put in and what you get out.  A huge mistake is ‘assuming’ that you will be motivated by something and riding on a false sense that ‘this should be motivating’ when it simply isn’t.

You will start to lose motivation when you feel that you have to put in much more effort than you what you think you will get out in the end. There are two ways things you could do in this situation, either decide that it isn’t worth it or spot the reasons why this is something really awesome to do.

  • Intrinsic rewards are more motivating than extrinsic rewards so you can start by connecting your objectives to your values. When your objectives are aligned with your true values, you will find it easier to put the effort in and stay motivated.
  • Then, link as many benefits to what you want to do and bi-benefits, the benefits of those benefits. Find as many meaningful reasons why your intentions would be good for you as you can. Challenge yourself to come up with a list of at least 10 benefits to renew your motivation again.
  • Lastly, you could also get clear on what will happen if you don’t take action. You might find that you are more motivated to move away from what you don’t want than to move towards something you do want.

4.  Feeling disappointed

Ever felt like you were on a canoe rowing upstream, against the current? It is a constant struggle and it feels like you are just not making any progress not matter what. When there are so many struggles, obstacles and challenges ahead and you go from disappointment to disappointment, you lose motivation very quickly.

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Imagine turning the canoe around and letting it flow downstream instead. You can do this by changing the way you are looking at the situation. Feeling let down is not a nice feeling, no one wants to feel let down. Is it possible that there is a message in the ‘let downs’, they are neither good nor bad? Often we keep attracting the same experience until we learn how to manage it in a different better way.

Sometimes you just need to keep hearing the ‘no’s to get to the right yeses’ or sometimes you need see the gift in the situation instead of reacting blindly and only seeing what you want to. These could also be the exact challenges you need to overcome to grow and support you when you reach your goal in the end. If you feel disappointed it is because of the way you see the situation, is it possible there is a better way to look at it? If there is, you will no longer feel a lack of motivation in anyway.

 

If you want to effectively overcome your lack of motivation, identify why it went and then, take massive action to seek out that motivation again – it is always there, you only need to take that extra step to find it and bring it back.

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To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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