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The Progress Principle: A simple trick for when you're feeling unmotivated

Look for ways your work impacts the people around you

Procrastination is worst when we don't see the point of our jobs. The connection to a larger purpose helps us find meaning and motivation at work.

If your job doesn't make a huge impact, think about how it has helped the people you spend your day with. Each day, write down three ways your work has helped your coworkers.

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The Progress Principle: A simple trick for when you're feeling unmotivated

The Progress Principle: A simple trick for when you're feeling unmotivated

https://blog.rescuetime.com/unmotivated-at-work/

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

The Progress Principle: Tiny steps build motivation

If you wait for the ideal conditions before you start, you'll probably never do it.

A lack of motivation is an emotional issue. That means there is no hack to save you. The best way to get motivated is just to start. Small steps on meaningful tasks will build motivation.

Look for ways your work impacts the people around you

Procrastination is worst when we don't see the point of our jobs. The connection to a larger purpose helps us find meaning and motivation at work.

If your job doesn't make a huge impact, think about how it has helped the people you spend your day with. Each day, write down three ways your work has helped your coworkers.

Giving advice to someone else can be motivating

We don't lack motivation because we don't know how to be motivated, but because we don't know how to act on our own knowledge.

When we feel unmotivated, it's common to seek advice. But research shows that giving advice can be more motivating than receiving advice.

Knowing how to ride the “motivation wave”

We may not feel motivated all the time but we should take advantage when we are motivated.

The key isn't to use this wave to get something done today, but to use that rush of motivation to set up systems that will force you to build better habits and stay motivated when you don't feel like it. On a smaller scale, use your most productive hours to make progress on something you've been putting off.

Feeling unmotivated can be an organizational issue

Stressful workplaces are often poorly designed, socially toxic, exploitative and can kill motivation.

If you're unsure whether your workplace is to blame, ask yourself:

  • Do you feel challenged?
  • Do you feel a sense of curiosity?
  • Are you mostly in control of how you spend your day?
  • Do you have opportunities to collaborate or compete?
  • Do you feel you're getting enough recognition?

Hobbies and motivation

The lack of motivation might also come from an unbalanced work-life.

Give yourself space. Take on a hobby, engage in deliberate rest or a meaningful break to help you disconnect from work and increase your happiness.

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Completion Bias

Our brain starts to favour small tasks that give a false impression of productivity (woohoo! I just sent out fifty emails!) while we neglect the large, complex but meaningful tasks.

This is known as the completion bias.

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Theories of motivation
Theories of motivation
  • Rational motivation, which reflects our preferences. We're motivated by the opportunities we can notice.
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Some theories of motivation claim we're naturally biased. It may happen because we can't consider all the angles. At other times, as the world advance, the usual criteria no longer apply.

There may be only a few exceptional people like Elon Musk because we can't grasp the idea that one person can create wealth or drive progress. We don't notice opportunities and more easily dismiss them.

Motivation: listen or nudge

If you think motivation is mostly rational, pay attention to what motivates you. You might not feel motivated because your current opportunities aren't that good.

If you think motivation is biased and nudging is necessary, create rules, systems, and habits to move you ahead. If you can't motivate yourself for months or years, your project may be at fault.

Stuck in a state of passivity
Stuck in a state of passivity

Passive behavior is the sense of feeling a lack of motivation, energy, and willpower. It is often the cause of people feeling stuck at work or in their life.

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Lack of motivation leads to passive behavior

The most common cause of passive behavior is being unmotivated.

It is a myth that motivation needs to come before action. More often, it is action that leads to motivation. You forced yourself to get in your workout gear and then suddenly felt ready to go. You forced yourself to meet friends and ended having a great time.

Action comes first, then motivation follows. When you feel unmotivated and passive, do something. Motivation and productivity will follow behind.

Lack of goals lead to passivity

When your only goal is to make it through the week, you may feel like you spend your life going through the motions with the same tasks week in and week out. It can become very dull. Finding meaningful goals can change all of that.

Meaningful goals can be spread out across all areas of life. Find purposeful goals within the work section of your life. Volunteer for a charity or get involved in other projects. Doing so will inevitably lead you out of passive behavior.

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Look at the Big Picture

This is the foundation of keeping track of your progress and also accomplishing your goals.

Where do you see yourself in the future in every aspect of your life?

Plan and Organize Your Time

Take your calendar and plan on organizing your time around achieving all your goals. 

Each week you will have specific goals that you want to accomplish. Throughout each week, you will have a To-Do list that you will work on every day.

Look for Accountability

Share your goals with your spouse or a good friend. 

When there is someone else other than yourself holding you accountable, you are more likely to get your tasks completed throughout the week. 

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