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How to stay focused and motivated at work

How to Stay Focused and Motivated at Work | 5 Brilliant Ideas

Sometimes our lives seem like never-ending distractions punctuated with interruptions. At work it doesn’t matter what you are doing. Something else is always demanding your attention like a whiny toddler yelling “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” or “Daddy, daddy, daddy!” Of course with last year’s lockdowns, it could be an actual toddler interrupting your work!


Unfortunately being unfocused saps motivation. Multitasking is a myth (less than three percent of people can do it successfully.) So today I want to focus on focus –– and  how to stay focused and motivated at work.

Start the Day Right


Observant Jews begin their day with a morning prayer thanking God for restoring their soul to their bodies and letting them live another day. I like to say a motivating mantra. Write something inspirational on a piece of paper and read it out loud before leaving the bed. Don’t save it on your phone. In fact, don’t use your phone as an alarm. It’s too easy to start texting or emailing the moment you shut it off. Invest in an actual old school alarm clock. 


Throughout the day, focus on saying things that are positive –- both to yourself and to others. The cliche about being our own worst enemy is often true –- few of us would tolerate a friend who said as many cruel things as we often say to ourselves. Avoid office gossips and negative people as much as possible. 


Eat Right


Food really is fuel. No one is very focused with low blood sugar or a growly stomach. I recommend complex carbs like that found in steel cut oatmeal or protein like you’ll get from eggs. Watch the sugar and the simple carbs (save the kiddie cereal for the weekends). Throughout the day, snack on carrot sticks, apple slices or raw almonds.


Be Mindful


The benefits of mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga endure long after they are completed. Mindfulness trains your mind to focus on the present. This not only improves focus but reduces stress. An ancient practice, mindfulness has attracted 21st century attention. The most respected clinical studies are the ones relying on randomized controlled trials. Those mentioning mindfulness leaped from a single study from 1995 ‒1997 to over 200 from 2013 ‒ 2015. To me the most interesting are not the ones focused on medical benefits but examinations of how mindfulness changes the brain. Meditation didn’t just change activity level in the brain during the practice. The benefits persist. 


Get Going with the Goals


I like apps that offer friendly reminders. If you have long-term goals, figure out the steps you need to take to reach your destination then get them on your calendar. Whether you make an old-school list or use a software program, the key is setting achievable goals. That means breaking weeks-long tasks into smaller objectives that can be accomplished in a few days. 


Some suggest that the key is having a goal that triggers intrinsic not extrinsic motivation. That means the work should be your reward –– crossing off a goal isn’t an act of completing an onerous task but rather another fulfilling rung on the ladder of life. It helps to find the parts of your job you love best and save them for after you have finished another task. This is why dieters who reward themselves with a pizza are generally less successful at keeping their weight off than those who reward themselves with a new bikini. 

Make Sure It’s Not the Job


It’s hard to miss the regular studies that show how consistently dissatisfied and disengaged the majority of people are at work. It’s hard to stay motivated let alone focused if you are miserable at work. If you think a stellar salary is all you need for incentive, I won’t argue with you. Time will do that all by itself. Think about billionaires long past “normal” retirement age who work every day. They don’t need the money. Instead, they discovered their passion.


That’s the sometimes unspoken secret about staying motivated at work. Discover and release your passion. If you haven’t done it yet, there are resources available. Because it really is about loving the journey. 


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