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What to do when all your motivation has been stolen by lockdown

Erm... can we do this tomorrow, actually?

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Welcome to our series where, each week, we get experts to find solutions to your lockdown problems. Send yours to and we’ll try to get you an answer. In this instalment: motivation.

Grace from Tower Hamlets says:

‘Before lockdown, I prided myself on being a good employee. In the past few weeks, though, I have become terrible at working. I start the week feeling positive, but by Monday lunchtime I feel like: What’s the point? How do I get back in the game?

Andrew Johnson, MD at PowWowNow, says: 

Feelings of an absence of motivation can arise during lockdown from stress. Worries about your own health or that of your loved ones, friends and colleagues, can be a huge factor – or broader concerns about the world or your career. As well as this, the monotony of being under lockdown and the lack of stimulation from being able to visit friends or go outside can cause psychological stress, making it hard to focus. As well as this, being surrounded by colleagues can create energy through the “contagion effect”, where there is social pressure to mimic what others are doing. You may be finding it hard to stay motivated at home without people to witness the fact you are distracted, and you might be feeling down without enjoying the bustle of engaging and connecting with others on a daily basis.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to improve motivation. Setting yourself deadlines is key. If projects are longer-term, segmenting it into smaller chunks can help you focus on each task and to meet those deadlines. Use online tools to stay in touch with people at work and check in on them – they will probably be feeling the same as you, and you could both benefit from the interaction. Online work chat tools are effective for shorter interactions, but scheduling regular video calls can also be good for getting some face-time with colleagues, and feeling part of a team. That sense of togetherness will help motivate you to carry out your work.

Take regular breaks away from your screen. Working for shorter, more concentrated periods of time can be far more effective than plugging away feeling demotivated for hours at a time. This will help you feel refreshed and gives you headspace to think and return with more motivation.

Some people benefit more from the structure of an office environment and having a familiar way of doing things day-to-day, so establish a routine. Get up at the same time, make a hot drink at a specific hour, and take similar breaks each day. A clear pattern can really help your body to know when it’s time to focus. Above all, be patient with yourself. This is an unprecedented situation and everyone will be feeling at least a little out of kilter. Don’t be afraid to raise issues with your boss or HR if you’re feeling like you need more support.’

Read more in this series:

Am I in a power struggle with my cat?

Why am I having such vivid dreams in lockdown?

Why do I have the attention span of a goldfish?

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