How to stay motivated during the 'silly season'
As we get into the full swing of the summer months in the northern hemisphere, it can be as hard to stay motivated at work as it is to keep hydrated on packed public transport.
Whether you're off on holiday to sunnier climes or staying at home to avoid the hoards of children loudly enjoying their school holidays (unless they’re your own), making the most of the ‘silly season’ could be easier than you think.
Motivation makes us happy
It’s natural for your levels of motivation to wax and wane, it is never a constant state. Whether you’re feeling down about your job or just need to stop and take a lunch break, it’s perfectly okay to accept that sometimes, you’re just not being as productive as you could be.
But we know that high levels of motivation are linked to feelings of positivity and job fulfilment. How many times have you longed for a quiet period at work, only to find that, when one arrives, you feel bored and listless?
So, being able to get motivated without too much effort is not only good for your levels of productivity but also your general wellbeing. But how?
Three factors that improve motivation
According to Dan Pink in his game changing book, ‘Drive’ (2009), intrinsic motivation is fuelled not by beer fridges, dress down Fridays and team building exercises (big surprise) but by three easily replicable and self-sustaining factors: mastery, autonomy and purpose.
Let’s unpack the model:
The concept of ‘mastery’ describes our desire to be good at something. To make mastery mean more motivation, it has to be put into action. So, being able to use a skill you have in the context of your role will give your motivation a big boost.
‘Autonomy’ does what it says on the tin. We need to feel in control of our own destiny (or at least our working day). In motivational terms it’s about being able to get on with what you enjoy doing or know you can do well, minus the micro management.
Finally, ‘purpose’ is having a reason to do something in the first place. Knowing and engaging with why you have to perform certain tasks, work in a certain way and contribute what you do in your work is the motivating factor here.
Having one of these three components will raise your motivation levels a touch, having all three will supercharge your productivity, even when the summer sun's beckoning.
Boosting your motivation
Here are our tips to bring those three factors to life; getting you back on the motivational track so that you can be super smug by the time September rolls around.
Work out which part of your job you enjoy the most and find the easiest to do. It’s important that you focus on both these things; we don't always enjoy something just because we find it easy.
How could you weave more of this into your daily working life? Are there any extra pieces of work you could do while it’s quieter than usual that would draw on your expertise?
What do you feel most in control of in your work? It can be helpful to reflect on where you already have autonomy - you might have more than you think. Is there anything else you can take charge of?
Ever heard of Stephen Covey’s ‘circles of concern and influence’? If not, give it a go. It’s a great way to analyse the parts of your work you feel less in control of. It will help you to let go of the things you don’t have control over and take more charge of the things that you do.
Do you have a clear goal? If not, consider setting one. Goals are incredibly motivating and can give you the clarity to focus on what matters; making it easier to get the most out of the time you have in the day.
If you already have a goal, revisit it. Is it still right? Does it inspire you to action? What have you done so far to work towards completing it?
When you are focused and engaged positively in your work you will find that it takes a lot less effort. Having the time and space that a quieter season like summer offers us is the perfect opportunity to reset and find your flow.
When you get into a flow state you will find so much joy and satisfaction in your work, you won’t even mind that you aren’t lying on a beach.
So, let’s make the most of the calm before the September work storm and get ahead of the curve so that we can face the Autumn full of energy and buoyed by our summer of motivation.
You could also have a pina colada in your hand while you work too, if that helps...