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Heithem Moumni
Heithem Moumni

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What to do when you've lost motivation to work?

Top comments (14)

martin_adams profile image
Martin Adams

This is a tough one as it can be very personal I think. Things I would look at would be whether you have some type of goal or purpose to the work you're working towards, and that you're slightly challenged so you grow your skills bit by bit. Usually when I get demotivated I start looking for a different job, but that's because the work got repetitive, the opportunities are stagnated and the team don't really take those opportunities to make you feel excited.

The work environment can be quite toxic. Negative opinions, other people who aren't motivated, or those who are but don't take them time to help you grow can be demotivating. Your manager plays a key role and they may actually be contributing to the feeling of demotivation.

My advice, spend a bit of time reading about different subjects (non-technical) and having a break mentally. Feel comfortable thinking about nothing. I can recommend something like "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us". I do audio books as I don't really like reading.

Happy to answer more questions if you want.

itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla)

Usually when I get demotivated I start looking for a different job, but that's because the work got repetitive, the opportunities are stagnated and the team don't really take those opportunities to make you feel excited.

There needs to be care with this approach, though, just because the process of software development means you can't really be full passion projects all the time. There are going to be ruts that you get into with the ebb and flow of a project. You might spend a month on devops when that isn't your thing but everyone is "full-stack" even though devops totally isn't part of stacks. Then next sprint you're on your favorite thing again like that never happened. Or the project gets shelved and you're on another part of the whole or an all-new project.

If I looked every time I was bored with the process, I'd probably only hold a job for 6 months at a time because boring stuff happens, then things pivot and becoming interesting again, then they get boring again, and so on. Part of what makes job hopping an undesired trait, to me, is seeing that the job candidates can't persevere through dumb projects or the boring parts of a project.

martin_adams profile image
Martin Adams

This is a great response, and on hindsight I was a bit brash in what I said. Just to clarify, when I've experienced demotivation it's not because of the technology or the people, but because I've lost my connection with the overall purpose and the job doesn't give me a sense of meaning.

It generally takes me a long time to recognise that I'm demotivated. To give you an example, I left IBM in 2010 after 6 years with the company and changed department once in that time. The release schedules were upwards of 18 months long. I wanted a dev role from test and even after 18 months of it not happening, I realised I was demotivated.

It all boiled down to my overall sense of purpose wasn't there. I wasn't being given the opportunity to work towards what I wanted, the mission of the product was vague at best. I much prefer working with smaller teams and being closer with the customer. It keeps me focused on the 'why'.

As you say, we can all face short term boredom with technologies that don't motivate us. Just make sure you're not stuck with it for 18 months.

cathodion profile image
Dustin King

Depends on what you mean by work and how you've lost motivation.

If it's a job and I'm just not feeling it, I keep going for a while because I have to. Maybe I'll find another job. Maybe things will get better. Maybe I'll figure out a way to make things better.

For more personal stuff, where there's no looming threat if I don't do it, it's a lot harder. I've figured out that some of this is due to anxiety. What looks like laziness or a lack of motivation can, when examined, sometimes be attributed to anxiety. I've worked on this some on my own, and might seek therapy at some point. But at least being aware that this is possibly a cause might help. Though anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, I don't seem to have that, but it's something else to consider.

One thing I'm trying is budgeting my energy in a spreadsheet. If you're familiar with the concept of "spoons", it's kind of like that: you start each day with a certain number of units of energy, and each task takes a certain amount. So each morning I list the day's tasks (taken from other pages for tasks and projects), and if they add up to more than the day's energy budget, I should probably remove some. The daily budget has a default value, but it might vary if I'm not feeling it that day. Overall it's too early to tell how effective this is, but I was able to take care of something that I've been putting off for a year and half, so that's something. Energy for me doesn't mean feeling upbeat and enthusiastic, but it's a shorthand for things like willpower and.. whatever the inverse of anxiety is. YMMV.

dallgoot profile image

the inverse of anxiety is serenity ;)
...and it has the bad habit of escaping when you need it most
Your energy budget is a very good idea.

dougaws profile image

Just keep plugging along. Make sure it isn't depression--do you not enjoy normal activities, etc? Food doesn't taste as good, ...

Everyone has their ups and downs. When I get really de-motivated I look through some of my old, unread emails for inspiration. Read Slashdot/reddit/etc. for ideas that I can apply.


khanhtc1202 profile image
Khanh Tran

Do OSS, I guess :))

gmartigny profile image
Guillaume Martigny

The first remedy is change.

If you're talking about professional work, ask to change of project or tasks (event for a few weeks).

If you're talking about personal work (hobbies, personal projects ...), try another perspective. For example, try using instead of building your code, or plan activities instead of partaking them.

zeddotes profile image

Change environments, even temporarily.

craigbutcher profile image
Craig Butcher

I am currently going through this phase for some time this year and begun making small happy tweaks like reading more books, make a small daily list, do small things, it all leads somewhere. Also be kind to yourself and build some kind of barrier for yourself to prevent negativity from toxic work environment (if that is the case). Your health is important too so recharge as much as you can.

jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby

You mean, besides straight up procrastination and checking Twitter? B)

I sometimes pull out puzzle games, because solving puzzles is pretty much what development is. Sudoku specifically is a go-to.

bossajie profile image
Boss A

What are the reasons why you lost the motivation?

heithemmoumni profile image
Heithem Moumni

I don't know, I think because of the routine

robertsvensson profile image
Robert Svensson

See a therapist to hopefully rule out any form of depression. If it's "just" your job that you're tired of you can simply move on. There's plenty more fish in job see.