How to Motivate Yourself to Work

You can do more to motivate yourself.
You can do more to motivate yourself. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Motivating yourself to work can be one of the most difficult things to do when you work by yourself. Often, the problem isn't in working; it's in starting the task. Letting yourself procrastinate only makes completing your tasks more difficult as your deadlines near. Sometimes just getting going is enough to generate the necessary momentum, so try a few tricks to help kick-start and maintain your motivation.

Create and prioritize a to-do list. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is figuring out what you need to do, or maybe there's so much to do that you simply don't know where to begin. Take the time to write out a list of tasks you have to accomplish. This focus you, and provide a rewarding sense of satisfaction when you check off completed tasks. The last item on your to do list should be writing the next day's list.

Break your tasks into small, easy-to-accomplish microtasks. When a task is too broad, it can prevent you from getting started, so cut your work into more manageable pieces and keep your momentum flowing.

Surround yourself with top performers. Even a phone conversation with a motivated friend or an achiever at work can inspire you and have an impact in your own performance.

Keep an accomplishment journal. Record anything significant you accomplish each day. These will be bigger tasks that encompass many of the microtasks you've worked on. Having that sense of accomplishment staring you in the face each day is a powerful motivator.

Reward yourself. Nobody likes working for nothing, and motivation will wane eventually if you never receive any positive reinforcement. Schedule in 30 to 60 minutes during the work day to do absolutely nothing, read a chapter in a favorite book, eat your lunch while you watch a TV show or work out if that's your thing. Have a plan to break up the monotony, and work toward your rewards.

Remind yourself of your goals. If you are working to save up money for a new house or a fun vacation, keep images of what you hope to achieve -- a postcard of a deserted Mediterranean island, a paint color swatch for your new dining room -- at your desk.

Don't work every day. Burnout will kill all motivation, so be sure to take at least one day off each week to get yourself out of the working mode so you'll be refreshed the next time you get back to it.

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