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Staying Motivated During Laborious Tasks
Boring admin is often an integral part of any job. A finite number of people can say that they haven’t had to do any “boring admin” in one way or another in their careers. Boring admin also intrudes on our personal lives – how often do you hear a friend or loved one say, “I’ve got some life admin to do”?
In my short career (I’m 27 years old, I’ve been working professionally for about 6 years since graduating from university), one of the hardest things to do is to stay motivated in these more tiring tasks. It’s this ability to stay motivated even when the task is so soul-crushing that I’ve been in a pretty lucky position, both as an employee and as a part-time freelancer. Can you tell me where the time goes and how I can stay motivated?
Understanding motivational tactics, what works and what doesn’t.
In order to understand how I can be more productive during my time at work, I have taken the time to examine what motivation is, how it works, and how it is misused to manipulate and control others. As explained in DRIVE: The Surprising Thing That Motives Us, carrot and stick methods never motivate. Even when I worked at a marketing agency, the bonus system made me much less busy and productive until I forgot it was there.
The point of “carrot and stick motivation” or “Motivation 2.0” is that it has been scientifically proven, through endless studies, that it doesn’t work in the long run. Usually after the first attempt and the inspiration to chase something worthwhile, and especially when we fail, we tend to get discouraged and in most cases result in not wanting to do the carrot again. It is alarming to see that 89% of companies believe they are losing talent for more money, while only 12% of that number are making more money.
However, in certain fields, such as sales, where goals and bonuses are an integral part of the game, motivation 2.0 can work. I have many friends who work as financial advisors and business development managers, and their way of thinking is obviously different from mine. They are motivated by goals, wealth and all that comes with it. I would say I want to see how often do they find purpose, how do they feel when they do and how do they feel when they don’t?
With this in mind, what motivates broader consensus, as leadership figures often say, is the ability to celebrate small and large successes at different stages of a project. Additionally, acknowledging good work with a “thank you” or “that’s great” is the type of activity that has been shown to elicit a positive response and increase engagement and productivity for the project/next project. So in this case, the driving style is the motivating factor, not the place of work or the financial reward. This is proven by the fact that 75% of employees leave their jobs not because of their employer, but because of their managers! More needs to be done to improve the recognition and personal influence of leaders within organizations.
Self-motivation is the hardest trick of all.
If you think motivating others is hard work, wait until you have to motivate yourself. I remember procrastinating so much at Uni that I ended up pulling an ‘all-nighter’ and writing a 3,000-word paper on ‘the representation of women in film noir’. Not my finest moment! Within digital marketing, I find myself procrastinating on the more arduous and uplifting, yet important administrative tasks. For example, building links. Although it’s not my favorite task, I know how important it is to develop a brand’s link profile, so I know I have to motivate myself to get the job done. But how?
I have found that I am more productive and much more motivated when I outline the task or project at hand. In fact, the planning phase is the most liberating part of doing the whole exercise. I believe a clearly mapped out plan of attack with milestones, delivery dates, tactics, etc. the best way to do my job.
This allows me to set realistic timelines for my brain to grasp how long a task will take and when I will finish it. This allows me to accept the time I need to devote to any project.
Also, it’s important that I break regularly and do so in short bursts. This way of working is effective for me. After completing certain parts of the tasks, I walk for some water, stretch a bit, or make a cuppa, depending on how much it was of course. These methods are proven methods for preventing fatigue during work and for continuous engagement throughout the day.
I also listen to music, and where studies suggest you should listen to music you wouldn’t normally listen to in order to focus your mind, I don’t think that’s the case. I am much more motivated, focused, and creative when I listen to music that excites me or makes me “feel good.” I’m all for anything that boosts positivity – it affects your mind to lead better, more inspiring days.
Once you find what motivates you and know what you need to do to stay motivated, life becomes much easier. It’s true that some days are harder than others, but knowing that there are things you can do to stay alive or give yourself a little boost is a big plus.
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