6 Tips for Staying Focused When You’re Not Motivated to Work

Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work When You’re Just Not Feeling It

We all have those days, weeks, or even months when we don’t feel motivated to work as much as usual. Finding the drive day in and day out can be a challenge any time, but especially when your work can be busier or more stressful for a period. With COVID-19, we’re seeing more people working from home, which can feature more distractions than the typical office environment. Blurring the lines between work and home life complicates things further. As your motivation levels waiver, it’s essential to learn how to recognize why it’s happening and work to stay focused in distracting moments.

These six tips on how to stay motivated will guide you in building a work mentality that will boost your productivity levels, even on days when you’re feeling less than inspired.

Six Tips for Staying Motivated


Here are a few suggested activities to help keep you on track and focused during the workday.

1. Create a Checklist

Checklists are a powerful tool for holding yourself accountable. Creating a daily or weekly list can help prioritize your tasks and clarify your goals. Seeing your goals displayed visually also keeps them top of mind, often driving you to complete them faster. The best part of creating a checklist is marking off that very last task; the feeling of accomplishment you have carries you into the next day, feeling more motivated.

If paper checklists aren’t your thing, there are many free apps and websites that offer checklists and task tracking to help you stay motivated, even on the go!

2. Focus on Smaller Tasks and Goals

Setting large and challenging goals for yourself can be detrimental: your brain may begin to feel overwhelmed with the perceived effort required to reach that final goal. Remember instead that you can break down the overall project you’re trying to complete into a variety of small tasks that are more achievable. This trick is great for the items you can’t seem to check off your to-do list.

By setting tangible, realistic, and smaller goals for yourself, you’ll progress toward your larger goals while avoiding an all-or-nothing mentality.

3. Reward Yourself

You did it! That one thing you moved to the bottom of your checklist over and over again is finally complete. Time to reward yourself!

Creating a reward system is vital to your success in maintaining motivation. Rewards can range from simple encouragements like your favorite food or dessert to something more desirable like a day off from work. It’s essential to be creative and dig deep as to what rewards will motivate you the most. The progress you make daily or monthly is important, and celebrating those small moments will inspire you to stay positive and keep you motivated on those more challenging days.

The trick is having the reward reflect the difficulty of the task. The harder the activity, the better the reward.

4. Tune into an Inspirational Playlist

A playlist full of your favorite music can help you stay focused while working on a difficult task. Some find that listening to a mellow or “chill” playlist calms their anxiety and improves concentration, while others feel most productive with upbeat, energetic tunes playing.

No matter the type of music you prefer, consistent background noise has the potential to engage your mind and combat de-motivating brain signals associated with fatigue or boredom. Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music are great platforms for creating playlists full of music to keep you motivated. Add music to these playlists as your workday motivation needs to grow.

5. Stay Positive

When negative thoughts take over your day, acknowledge those feelings and what’s making you feel that way. Then, find the positive side. Take control of your thoughts by understanding what’s making you feel emotionally entangled. Focusing on what you’re feeling in the moment will help you address and squash unpleasant thoughts and make your overall outlook more positive.

Transform a negative thought during your workday into positive thinking by concentrating on the positive outcomes that will occur when you’ve accomplished your goals. Fixating on results drives higher levels of performance and productivity. Having a sound support system can also help dig you out of these negative moments. If you’re feeling stuck, message a friend for support or talk to a coworker or family member.

6. Take A Break

Sometimes the best thing you can do to regain focus is to step away from what’s frustrating you. Taking a short, five to 10-minute break can rest your brain and give it the refresh it needs to finish your daily tasks. Instead of browsing social media or a news site, pick an activity that doesn’t require much mental energy. Some great examples of this would be:

  • Go for a walk
  • Have a healthy snack
  • Grab a cup of coffee
  • Do a short yoga exercise

We all lack motivation at some point, and these small tips will help guide you to overcome those moments when you’re feeling uninspired.

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