How to Stay Motivated When You're in a Rut

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Motivation is a fleeting thing. Sometimes you’re on top of it, crushing deadlines and getting it done, while other times it’s difficult to even boot up your computer. We know this struggle to be all too real, which is why we wanted to provide you with a few tips to fight the work rut and keep working strong.

1.       Make a list of what you need to do.

One of the easiest ways to lose motivation is to feel overwhelmed. Try listing out your essential tasks at the beginning of your workday, and then organizing that list in a way that best suits you. Do you like to start with small tasks and work your way to the bigger stuff? Do you like to start with the closest deadline first? We suggest you determine your top 3 priorities and 3 things that can be saved until later. Out of your top 3 priorities, start with the task you are dreading the most. Whatever your method, list it out so you can clearly see your tasks and check them off one by one.

2.       Avoid excessive multitasking.

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Multitasking is always seen as one of the great professional virtues, but this isn’t always the rule. Juggling multiple projects unnecessarily will burn you out and quickly sap you of motivation to continue. Instead, focus on one task at a time, knock it out, and move on to the next.

3.       Manage your time.

We suggest Breaking tasks into 30-45 min time intervals. This way you won’t end up working on 1 specific item for too long and get burned out. It’s also important to know at what times you are most productive. Not every person is productive at the same time. After all, we have phrases like “early bird” and “night owl” for a reason. Take some time to figure out what part of the day you are at your best and focus on your work at that time. If it turns out you do your best work at night but you’re on a strict 9-5, then use some of your night to organize for the next day or brainstorm solutions to a work problem. Every little bit will help when you get back in the office tomorrow.

4.        Identify where you do your best work

Are you most productive when you work from home or in the office? Maybe your do your best work in Starbucks? Just like with the time of day, your location can have a huge impact on your motivation. If you can work from anywhere, try and locate where you do your best work. Do you work best in silence, or does a little ambient noise help? Do you like working next to windows, or is that too distracting? If you must work from a single location, try to create your workspace in a way that helps keep your motivation up. There’s always a way to make your environment work for you.

5.       Take Frequent Breaks

It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes not working is the best way to get work done. If you’ve been drudging along on a project and getting nowhere, use that time instead to do something else. Day dream for 5 minutes, take a quick walk outside, even draw a picture at your desk. Taking these breaks if your brain a moment to breathe and relax, and often the solution you were looking for will be waiting at your desk when you get back.

6.       Tell others about your goals. 

If you’re starting on a new goal and you really want to stick to it, tell someone about it and be accountable. It may seem strange to say, but the fear of failure when others are watching you is a powerful motivator and an extremely effective way to stay on track. In addition, if others know about your goal, they may be able to help you along the way. No matter what your goal, there’s always strength in numbers.

7.       Don't let distractions get the best of you.

Thanks to smartphones and the advent of the internet, every buzz and ringtone could turn into an incredible time loss. Instead, keep your phone on silent and out of reach, or turn it off and only check it during those breaks we talked about. If your distraction is talkative coworkers, pop in some headphones. You don’t even need music on, just the look is often enough to keep your work zone silent and your day distraction free.

8.       Only focus on what you can control.

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You can lose a lot of stream if your day goes off course, and trust us, your day will inevitably go off course. Deadlines can shift, work can be lost, and entirely new projects can appear at a moments notice. Whenever this happens, take a moment and ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about this?” If the answer is yes, go ahead and take action! If the situation is nothing you can change, however, take a moment to readjust, reorganize, and get back in the fray. Just keep your eyes on the prize.


9.       Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Humans are logical creatures. We really do things that are not in our own self-interest, so keep the reason you’re working in your mind. Are you working for that next promotion (and of course the raise that goes with it)? Maybe you’re working to help others that can’t help themselves? Maybe this project is going to be the shining star in your new portfolio? Whatever the reason, keep the why in mind.

10.   Celebrate the small things. Reward yourself for a job well done!

Sometimes a project can seem so overwhelming that the end is no where in sight, and that can really bog you down. To combat this, make a note of each small achievement along the way. A large success can only be built on several smaller successes, so take the time to acknowledge every small victory. Sometimes just knowing that you’re making progress is enough to keep you going.


Staying motivated can completely alter a workday. It turns the drudge of the daily grind into the rush of a job well done, and often help create some of our best work. While it’s impossible to stay motivated 100% of the time, we hope these tips can help you stay motivated when you need it the most.