how to motivate yourself to work

How I Lost, Regained, and Kept My Motivation to Work

Your motivation to work, while at home, is important to get things done. You will not procrastinate. You won’t have to invent excuses. Instead, you will be determined to live a good and fulfilled life.

In this article, I will share little secrets about how I got myself motivated to work harder. May you find the inspiration you need.

I Lost the Motivation to Work

During the pandemic, many of us had to work from home. Working from home is more complicated than most of us like to believe. 

Some of us cannot afford an extra room dedicated to work. We have to share a place with our children who are attending online classes. Even if the internet is okay, the environment does not invite anyone to work or study.

Because when you are at home, people think that you are not working.

Allow me to tell you about my Covid-19 story.

During virtual workshops, some of my participants had to excuse themselves frequently. They live with their parents, who want them to run some errands. Fix the roof first. Buy tocino for lunch. Pay the bills. Guide the children. You get the picture.

Where I am, some days are quiet. The next house is 40 meters away. Birds tweet and cicadas sing all day. I get to hear some cars passing by on the road nearby. 

But I also live with two old ladies who shout at each other when they talk. My dog barks every time it sees cats. My dog does not understand that I am working from home.

I often lost motivation to work. And that’s not a good thing for my business and my family.

I lost my mojo.

The daily routine is gone.

I no longer see my wife ironing clothes at night as if every night is Friday.

The alarm clock no longer rings at 4.33 in the morning. I don’t know why. But it stopped ringing at the same time my client started working from home too.

I don’t have to race to the bathroom. I don’t have to rush eating your breakfast. I can eat any time. I don’t have to wear my shoes. I don’t have to run to the bus station. I lost much in life that tells me I’ve got to go to work. 

I know similar stories happened to millions of people.

We lost our motivation to work because our work habits changed.

The triggers, the activities that tell you that you are going to work, are no longer there. Those triggers, some of which you hated, have evaporated. 

The Covid-19 pandemic damaged severely my motivation, and I had to do something about it.

WorkLife Chaos

Most of us have been praying for work and life balance. That’s because when we started working, most of what we do is work or something related to work.

Many years ago, I had to wake up early in the morning because I don’t want to be caught in traffic. I was living in Cubao and was working in Makati. If I woke up late, I wouldn’t be in the office by 8 in the morning. I have just started my company — and I wanted to model to employees. I believe in the true definition of Filipino Time.

And I had to stay in the office until 7 pm because I avoided the long queue at the Ayala Station.

My work life was from 5 in the morning until 10 in the evening, including travel time. So there was no work-life balance at all.

how to motivate yourself to work
Self-awareness is key. You can motivate yourself to work.

For most of us, work is life.

The habits for work, the very things we do that tell us we are working, are now gone. 

Why am I telling you all of these?

I want you to know that it is not your fault if you lost the motivation to work.

Our situation may not be the same. You’ve got to understand your unique situation. 

Self-awareness is your key to teaching yourself how to motivate yourself to work.

There is tension between home and work. There was a time when a home is a place where you can forget about work. There was a time when work is work. We were thrown off balance. 

There was no life-work balance before, but at least we developed the skills to survive that. You set the habits that trigger your actions. Habits made you do things without deliberate thinking.

If you want to know how to motivate yourself for work, you’ve got to redesign your life. 

I can only give you clues based on my experiences. But you’ll be the one who will determine for yourself how to create the life you want while working from home.

I Regained My Motivation to Work

You can motivate yourself to work. Explore ways so you can make any of these suggestions.

Designate a place and time for work.

I know that not everyone can create a separate room for work. But if you have the opportunity, build your place and designate a specific time for work.

Do you have space outside the house where you can place a table and chair? I have learned this from some writers. Writing is work. They designated a place for writing, a place for editing, and a place for something else. 

For example, one writer says that he goes to his “writeplace” from 8 to 11 in the morning. That place is the place for writing. 

But before he does that, he does his designed routine. 

Increase motivation to work.
It takes a bit of effort, and coffee to get us motivated.

Brew coffee. Arrange notebook and sharpen colored pencils. Open laptop. Deactivate internet. Open the Pomodoro app. Stretch arms. Start writing. Keep writing. Stop when the alarm clock rings at 11 am. Go to the next station.

Look around you. Consider how you can design your “workplace” to get started easily with your work activities.

Here’s what I did.

My work starts at seven o’clock in the morning. I end work at four in the afternoon.

I do “creative” work in the morning. I meet clients in the afternoon. I read and plan in the evening. In between, I spend time with family. Work and life blend, but there is a place for something.

Creative work includes writing articles, drafting speeches, shooting videos, and brainstorming. Some clients want to meet in the morning, not in the afternoon. So, I adjust my day. But I do encourage them to meet me in the afternoon. 

In the afternoon, we can hold workshops, webinars, and online classes. (I encourage you to explore the advantages of online classes). This is performance time. I consider myself productive when I get to serve two clients in a day.

My place for writing articles is JCs garden. I write for at least an hour or 1000 words. I brainstorm ideas by walking, stopping from time to time to record my reflections in Evernote.

My walking time is also a time to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I found out that working outside my house is good for my creative mind.

I meet clients and record videos in my Digital Room, a fancy word for a four-square meter space. It is a small room. Half of it, the part not seen by clients on video, is the storage room. I sometimes transfer to our sala because of weak internet connectivity (but I remind myself that our sala is a family room).

If I get things done before 3 in the afternoon, I go to my Mandala garden. It is there where I learn from plants how to craft business strategies. 

Yes, I talk to plants sometimes. But they don’t answer me. But I get the answers to my questions, anyway.[mfn] I am a plantito. I dedicate an hour each day to taking care of my plants and vegetables. Before, I was doing my plantito work in the morning. But planting herbs and vegetables is too enjoyable that I tend to forget the hours. Gardening and backyard farming is now after-work activity.[/mfn]

My scheme is a work in progress. But having a place and time for specific activities (family and work) helped me navigate my work-from-home challenges.

Increase your motivation for work by helping your brain understand that you are in your “work” place.

Design your routine.

Before the pandemic, most of us do not need to create our work routine. Most of it happened. Or we had our routine because we live in the social world. We adjust ourselves to how others work too.

As I have said earlier, most of our routines related to work evaporated because we have to work from home. Our environment changed. And if we have not deliberately created our routines before, now is time.

When I say routine, I mean triggers.

You create your triggers so you can get yourself motivated for work.

Do you want an example? 

Okay. Here is an easy one. Wear your uniform. 

It does not have to be your office uniform. But if you are in the business of conducting webinars or meeting clients via zoom, pick your uniform. Pick the uniform that will look great on video. Wear one that will make you always ready for work.

I found out that wearing long pants instead of shorts makes me feel like working. It tells me that I am actually working. Yeah, people won’t see my pants. But wearing my pants means that I am serious about what I do.

I am not yet into wearing shoes during my work hours., though.

Getting yourself ready is an excellent way to motivate yourself for work.

Before you wear your uniform, it is also essential to create all the tiny triggers to help you get there. Have your breakfast. Brush your teeth. Take a bath. Comb your hair. Wear your uniform.

After that, go to your designated “workplace”. You can do this. Everything is figureoutable, says Marie Forleo.

Manage your time, attention, and energy.

I divide my typical workday into morning and afternoon activities. Morning is the right brain activity, and afternoon is the left brain activity. It does not mean that I only use half of my brain at a time. Or I am a creative person in the morning and a logical person in the afternoon. 

Let us say that every work has a creative and logical side to it. When necessary, I do the creative and logical work in an hour. An example would be brainstorming video ideas, outlining videos, shooting videos, and editing videos.

Writing a 1500-word article, on the other hand, can be done in three separate time frames: brainstorming, writing, and editing.

To manage my time, I consider the following:

  1. The amount of time I have for the day.
  2. My energy level.
  3. The most important work to do.

I schedule my most important work when I have the highest energy level. I pay attention to the one thing that will make the most significant impact on that day. I may not finish it (because of many urgent matters), but a portion of it indeed gets done.

I increase my motivation for work by paying more attention to creating value.

I get motivated to work when what I do makes me and my customers happy.

Because you can figure out what to do when you understand how to design your days, I did not give you specific steps like:

  • plan out your entire day, 
  • make a list (and stick to them), 
  • break everything into small steps
  • create a motivating work playlist
  • Delegate work
  • Review your progress
  • be honest with yourself
  • ask for help
  • use a bullet journal
  • use a time management app
  • evaluate your day
  • and so on.

You will know how to motivate yourself to work when you understand what’s happening to you now.

You must have heard some of these tactics before. Yes, I tried those too. Some tactics work for me, and others did not. Those are tactics you can inject into the work principles I shared here.

Those tactics above work for Dr. Shaun Murphy of the Good Doctor. When he is at home, his alarm clock rings for every activity. It works for him. But not for me.

Keep Yourself Motivated to Work

I shared with you how to motivate yourself to work. Working from home is not easy. The pandemic killed the tiny triggers that motivate us to work. We are on the same earth but living in a different environment.

Be self-aware. Snap out of the situation, which created tension between work and home. If your family members are experiencing the same out-of-balance feeling, talk to them. 

Once again, here’s how to increase motivation for work:

  1. Designate a place and time for work.
  2. Design your routine.
  3. Manage your time, attention, and energy.

If you have learned anything from this post, please go to the comment section and share your thoughts.

What to read next?

  • You are your choice. Most people find it challenging to decide. However, you will know who you are by the choices you make every day.
  • Commit to Living a Good Life. Do you want to live a good life? To get a good life, commit to living it daily. Life is sacred. Waste not a minute on toys and trifles. You cannot buy a good life over the counter.
  • Bahala Na Attitude. Bahala na is often associated with Filipino cultural flaws. But when you consider what it meant, you’ll realize that it represents Filipinos’ unwavering faith and the willingness to take action.

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