woman frustrated office workplace motivation

Workplace motivation toward productivity is in the eye of cat video fan.

social media phone distraction

While “keep your eye on the prize” is a great bit of advice, this can prove difficult if the goal is not clearly visible. Even if the end is within sight, simply completing a small task headed in that direction may not seem sufficiently rewarding enough to retain your focus. With text notifications buzzing, social media updates beckoning, and emails that feel like they’re rotting in our inboxes, distractions can cloud our vision of the finish line. As a weapon against distraction, we can use the one thing we love the most – ourselves. Have you ever thought about using self-reward for the sake of workplace motivation?

Work for your future self’s rewards.

If you’ve ever been “working for the weekend”, you already understand the concept of working for self-reward. Just having the finish line in sight can motivate us to work harder. Though working for the weekend is definitely effective on a Friday afternoon, on a Tuesday morning, you may have trouble seeing the weekend on your motivational radar yet. When this is the case, smaller rewards can help you focus throughout your day. The actual reward itself varies depending on what appeals to each individual, but just having a “dangling carrot” is a powerful tool for workplace motivation. What happens to be your dangling carrot depends on how you best motivated. Here are some ideas:

1. Working For The “Micro-Weekend”

Because we have become a multi-tasking generation, we have convinced ourselves that doing many different things at once means we’re being productive. The question following that would need to then be, “how well am I doing each of these various tasks?”  Dividing up each work hour into 45 minutes of hyper-focused work (that means hiding all open tabs, silencing the phone, and digging into the task at hand) followed by a 15-minute break means you can actually get more done in a shorter amount of time. What’s the reward? A “mini-weekend” every 45 minutes. In addition to doing what you want to do, using this time to get up and walk around has been shown to increase your mood, your focus, and decrease food cravings. Working towards that break can be the dangling carrot you need — both for your mind as well as your body. Even if you split it into 50 minutes with a 10-minute break, the results remain worth the focus for the sake of workplace motivation.

2. The To-Do List

To Do list with check marks isolated on white

Confession – I’m a to-do list junkie. In addition to the to-do list being a great way to gather all of your thoughts into a very simple set of bullet points, there is a mini-rush you get from simply from the physical act of marking something off of your to-do list. Though apps like Wunderlist are amazing ways to keep track of items on the go, keeping a physical to-do list at your workspace is the best motivational poster your office can ever display. The best part about using a physical to-do list as a form of workplace motivation is the ability to see what you’ve accomplished throughout the day.

Managing Your Daily To-Do List
a. Every morning, you may take a look at a week-long to-do list and grab the items you want to (or need to) accomplish that day.
b. Quickly compile a physical to-do list just for that day. Don’t go overboard. Keep it realistic, yet challenging. Block out the time period you want to use to complete these tasks.
c. Each time you mark something from your physical to-do list, make a big deal about it! Use a big red marker, a huge “x”, a touch-down dance – whatever gets you pumped!
d. If the day comes to an end without your entire to-do list finished – no big deal. Take out your week-long to-do list and mark off everything you accomplished and throw the daily to-do list in the trash. Make brand-spanking-new to-do list the next morning or that evening before you get back into work the next day so it will be waiting for you.

3. Finding Your Own Personal Motivational Poster

I remember working with a sales guy who had a poster of his favorite BMW car on the wall of his office that he dreamt of owning. It wasn’t a car that was completely out of his ability to buy, but he knew that he would have to work exceedingly hard in order to be able to afford it. Every time he saw that car, he hopped on the phones and made sales. We all have vices. You may like cat videos, granola bars or informational podcasts – or if you’re like me, you may like all three. Along with your break, plan your ability to enjoy these either after your 45 or 50 minutes every hour are up or after you mark a certain number of tasks off of your to-do list. If you need a physical representation, tack that granola bar or place a post-it with the word “cat video” to the wall of your workspace or computer monitor. Anytime your mind starts to wander, your eyes will catch that physical representation of your reward for working. This will help guide your focus back to what will get you that reward. Whether it’s a BMW or just our next break, workplace motivation only works if it appeals to us individually.

The best part about all these ideas is that you can very much make them your own. Nobody knows you better than you, so be creative when determining what kind of carrot you will dangle in front of yourself.
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