Staying excited and focused when you are working can have a big impact on productivity and overall success. But regardless of how much you love your job, we all have days when we need extra motivation. Some simple motivational strategies can help you do your best and give your work a 100% effort. In this article, we discuss different kinds of motivation, some specific strategies for how to motivate yourself to work harder and include some bonus tips.
Understanding intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation
Extrinsic motivation is a form of external motivation. It could be another person providing the motivation, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be some kind of outside obligation, demand or reward that requires you to complete a task or achieve a goal.
Intrinsic motivation is internal. With intrinsic motivation, you are pushing towards a goal or the completion of a task for your own personal satisfaction and accomplishment.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be beneficial. While some studies have indicated that excessive external rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation, external rewards have been shown to increase interest in something in which the individual has no interest. Extrinsic motivation can be used to motivate people to learn new skills that, once learned, people may be intrinsically motivated to continue pursuing on their own.
Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples
How to motivate yourself to work hard
Here are a few ideas to motivate yourself to work harder during the day:
- Break big goals into small tasks.
- Surround yourself with motivated people.
- Reward yourself.
- Give yourself breaks.
- Remember your “why.”
- Stay focused.
- Take care of yourself physically.
- Start your day with the most important task.
Break big goals into smaller tasks
While it is important to have big, ambitious goals, breaking them down into easy-to-complete tasks can boost your inner morale. It will give you a regular feeling of accomplishment and forward momentum that will motivate you to want to check more items off your to-do list.
Surround yourself with motivated people
The people who you surround yourself with will play a pivotal role in your personal and professional success. There is a famous quote by Jim Rohn that says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That statement is true for a reason. When you surround yourself with coworkers who are doing great things at work, they will also inspire you to push harder and do your own job better. Having peers who inspire you and push you to succeed is crucial. Make sure the people you are spending your time with are those who balance hard work and leisure.
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This is a form of extrinsic motivation, even though you’re the one who’s creating the motivation. When you accomplish tasks you don’t enjoy or when you reach a big milestone in a project, treat yourself. Not only will this make you feel rewarded for pushing through the task you will also be more motivated to push through to the next milestone—and the accompanying reward.
Give yourself breaks
Research shows that you are actually more productive when you take frequent breaks—approximately every 45-50 minutes. By remaining laser-focused for 45 minutes without letting distractions draw your attention away from your work, you can actually get more done faster. You will also be more motivated knowing you don’t have hours of nonstop work on one project without an end in sight. After a short break, you will be refreshed and ready to go again.
Remember your “why”
Few things are more motivating than remembering why you are doing the work. Remembering why you are pushing yourself can provide you with the internal motivation to reach your goals. Whether you are working on a project that has a result you are excited about or whether you simply want to put food on the table for your family, it is important to think about what is motivating you to do the work.
Related: How to Get Motivated at Work
Research has proven that interruptions have a powerful impact on productivity, partially because it takes time to re-focus your attention on the task at hand and partially because interruptions impact our working memory processes. During your 45-50 minutes of focused time, close your email and turn off your phone. Let people know in advance that you won’t always be available to respond to email, text and instant messages.
Take care of yourself physically
Giving work your all every day requires not only willpower but also physical energy. Make sure you get enough sleep each night—seven to nine hours per night is optimum for peak performance at work—maintain a healthy diet and try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Start your day with the most important task
If you begin your day with the most important task—even if it is the most challenging or something you don’t enjoy—you will feel more productive and more motivated throughout the rest of the day. To accomplish this, it is a good idea to make your daily to-do list the evening before. By doing so, you will be far more likely to put those unpleasant tasks that need to be completed at the top of your list and by accomplishing them at the beginning of your day, you will feel successful right from the start.