How to Get and Stay Motivated at Work 

By Carson Tate on August 19, 2021

Perhaps some people maintain their A+ intrinsic enthusiasm for work every day. Their motivation is stellar, and they inspire their colleagues with their unfailing inclination to give the job their daily best. But then, these people are briefcase-carrying unicorns and probably don’t even touch junk food or caffeine.  

Many of us have to dig deep for that motivation, to spread it out so that it lasts the week. Self-motivation is a critical career skill regardless of your career. Here, we’ll discuss how to get motivated at work and maintain that motivation for a myriad of workplace benefits.  

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Work Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to our inner drive. It’s based on our system of rewards. Extrinsic motivation refers to external rewards like maintaining motivation in the hopes of getting a raise or some reward that’s outside of us. For instance, if you are motivated to create fantastic front yard curb appeal because you enjoy working outdoors, love working with plants, and find that the physical activity feels good, you’re experiencing intrinsic motivation to improve your landscape. 

However, if you’re mowing, trimming, and mulching so that you don’t wind up with a nasty letter from your homeowner’s association, you’re experiencing extrinsic motivation. In the work world, extrinsic motivation is common. It’s also what ‘forces’ that motivation because few of us want to jeopardize our paycheck and benefits. An excellent salary is a powerful extrinsic motivating force, but as we’ve all experienced, pay doesn’t always answer our inner sense of reward. Consequently, to ramp up our intrinsic motivation, we may need to tap into our personal motivation psychology to figure out what drives us to stay motivated. 

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Tips to Stay Motivated at Work

Are you feeling unmotivated behind your desk lately? You’re not alone. According to a worldwide statistic published by TeamStage, only 15% of employees worldwide feel “engaged at work.” Considering that most people work at least an eight-hour day, do you want to be part of that 85% that is mentally disengaged at something you spend so much of your life doing? There is an alternative: get engaged. Use the following tips to re-engage with your work and fuel your inner drive for more inner fulfillment–and perhaps a little more joy. 

Create a Framework to Complete Work

Showing up to work without a clear plan or set schedule can lure you from the path of productivity, and when you feel unproductive, your sense of motivation takes a hit. If your first goal upon sitting at your desk is to enjoy your cup of coffee, you might be at risk of spending too much time on emails or, worse, social media.  

Instead, have a plan in mind for each part of each day. You might create this plan on your commute to work or at the end of the previous day. However, it’s important to start the day with your motivation revving. A schedule of tasks is a form of extrinsic motivation, but it can ignite your intrinsic motivation because of the feeling of accomplishment that task completion inevitably fosters.  

Create Achievable Goals–and Reward Yourself

Some days, it may feel next to impossible to gather the motivation needed to accomplish big goals. In such cases, we might be left feeling overwhelmed. Instead, break down big projects into small, achievable goals–and celebrate the completion of those goals. It’s easier to maintain your motivation when you know that when you complete this hour-long task, you’ll reward yourself with an herbal tea or lunch date with a friend.  

Beat Fatigue

Feeling physically exhausted can make us feel mentally worn out too, and vice versa. If you want to maintain your motivation at work, you’ll have to maintain your physical and mental energy levels. You can start with the obvious–getting your optimum amount of sleep. Avoid binging on Netflix until the weekend. Also, avoid things that drain your physical and emotional energy such as too much unhealthy food, and even toxic relationships. Being mindful about your energy levels will help you maintain them and, in turn, allow you to keep your motivation on track.  

Embrace Change

Work-life balance can begin to feel mundane and unmotivating when it remains unchanged. The nature of many jobs is a ‘relentless sameness.’ If you can’t change the nature of your job, make small arbitrary changes. For instance, change the music you play quietly in the background. Change your work routine by rearranging tasks from week to week. If you control your schedule, you can control the tasks within it.  

You can also bring new ideas to your job by reading or attending workshops. Make a point of thinking about how to positively change and inspire–even if it’s only for your own benefit. Others might take note and embrace your focus on the positive change too. 

Work is a necessity, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be bored and unmotivated to earn a paycheck. By actively finding ways to create and preserve our sense of self-motivation, we can more effectively maintain our productivity and achieve our extrinsic and intrinsic goals. You might also discover that by practicing ways to stay motivated at work, you’ll use the same techniques to maintain motivation for personal aspects of your life.

Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies.

She is the author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, and just released, Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job. Order your copy HERE! For more information, please visit www.carsontate.com.