I received the following question from a blog reader, and it seems perfect for July when good weather especially is likely to threaten productivity.
“Do you have any tips for concentration in the office? I’m either experiencing burnout or a newfound case of ADD. A lot of my colleagues work remotely, and sometimes I get to the office and am alone for several hours of the day. I seem to get sucked into buying stuff on Amazon and texting friends. I put off my work, thinking that I’ll tackle it later that night, but when I get home, I am so exhausted that I barely move from the couch.
When I do have a deadline, I am able to meet it, but it’s not because I work ahead – more like I rush until the end. The work my company does is very meaningful, but I just stopped caring recently and don’t know what to do. I want to be successful, productive and energized but it seems my mind and body are fighting against me. How do you stay motivated?”
Here’s my answer:
Although you ask about concentration, I’m going to focus on your last statement about motivation because I believe this is the crux of your issue. Getting motivated isn’t easy in today’s professional world, which is stressful and chaotic even in organizations with meaningful missions. However, the good news is that your own level of motivation is in your control, and you have the power to change it.
The lowest hanging fruit here is to read (or re-read) a few of the great business classics – I recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People/How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – and posting some of your favorite inspirational quotes in your cube or office. Share the concepts that resonate with you most with others, and you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to believe in them yourself.
Sign up for any personal development or leadership courses your company offers and stay busy so you don’t have time to sit around and think about your lack of motivation, or waste time, which just makes you feel worse. If you haven’t already done a self-assessment or thought carefully about what you really want out of work and how you can get it, now’s the time. Once you formulate a big picture, don’t let it out of your mind. Do something every week, like mastering a new skill or taking on a new project, that brings you one step closer to your overall career goal and celebrate your little successes along the way.
There will still be days, especially during the summer, when you just can’t get it together. When that happens, be patient and wait for the mood to pass. Pretend it’s your first day of a new job, and imagine approaching every task with confidence, eagerness, and enthusiasm. You can do the same thing by imagining that this is the best day of your working life. When you get home from work, you are still full of energy because you have accomplished so much and touched so many people. Keeping these types of thoughts at the forefront will help you battle the malaise that inevitably creeps into everyday life.