We’ve all been there. That moment halfway through our dreaded traffic commute when this thought hits us like a ton of bricks: I don’t feel like working today.
Short of doing something drastic, like programming your GPS to the nearest beach or golf course (or back to bed, which is really tempting), you know you need to work to make ends meet, but you feel defeated. What do you do?
Luckily, science has studied multiple ways in which we can be more productive and make work more simple (and enjoyable), especially when the simplest of tasks seem like a climb up Mt. Everest.
Here are a few work adjustments you can make to counter the negative thoughts of not wanting to be at work.
1. Accept where you are.
When you’re unmotivated, or feel paralyzed and don’t know what to do to get over a hump, your best bet is to admit to yourself that you’re stuck and not in a good place. Mental health experts suggest the practice of self-compassion. In essence, by accepting that your situation is only temporary and avoiding beating yourself up for it, it loses its power over you. Think instead of your own resilience, and recall how you were able to overcome similar challenges in the past.
2. Be flexible.
Are you a creature of habit? That can be good, to a point. If something is no longer working, try doing it differently. For example, change your scenery–literally. Take your meetings to a nearby park, or switch work duties with a coworker for a couple of hours. Whatever you do to change things up, the reason you do it is for self-care reasons–to reset, recharge, and get you back in full form.
3. Focus on the tasks that you care about.
To help you cope with your circumstances of not wanting to be at work, studies say that you should start your day with meaningful tasks that have a purpose behind it, rather than tasks that will bring you further down into the pit of apathy. Craft your work for the day to whatever brings you joy and satisfaction.
4. Say no.
Productive people live according to their values and purpose. They have no problem saying no to people or things that don’t serve them. So if something comes your today that has little value and doesn’t make you better tomorrow, simply walk away.
5. Take an afternoon nap.
This sounds counterintuitive to being more productive but according to research published in the New York Times, a short afternoon nap actually boosts productivity and job performance. Truth is, humans aren’t wired to concentrate for more than three hours at a time. Anything beyond that without taking a break, like a short nap, and you’ll start to experience the negative effects of decision fatigue and a lack of focus.
6. Focus on long-term planning.
Typically, most of us sit down the day before and plan out our to-do list for the next day. According to Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, this is the wrong approach because it conditions us to short-term thinking, rather than looking at the larger picture with our time and schedule. He says, “I know each day what I’m doing with each hour of the day. I know each week what I’m doing with each day of the week, and I know each month what I’m doing with each week of the month.”
Which of these would you say will help you be better at work, even when you don’t want to be there?
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