It’s Monday morning yet again and you are dreading to get out of bed and get started with your day. “I don’t want to go to work” is all you keep thinking while you brush your teeth, jug your coffee, and get dressed to settle into your home office or jump on your commute.
Is it Normal to Not Want to Go to Work?
Everyone has an “I don’t really want to do the work today” day (or several) once in a while. That’s perfectly fine because endless hustle gets tiring. But if you are feeling sour about going to work several weeks (or even months!) in a row, you are on the verge of burnout.
Burnout is a mental (and sometimes physical) state of exhaustion resulting from chronic workplace stress, overwork, and lack of proper coping strategies. As McKinsey reports 49% of employees are feeling somewhat or severely burnout. So chances are you are in this cohort too.
Signs of Job Burnout
- Low motivation and energy levels
- Sense of detachment and cynicism towards your work
- Rising self-doubt, impostor syndrome
- Growing levels of anxiety
- Low satisfaction from your achievements
- Emotional exhaustion and irritation
You can also assess your burnout levels by taking the Mayo Clinic’s self-assessment questionnaire.
4 Research-Backed Tips to Get Your Work Productivity Back
Burnout is an alarming mental state you should address. But there may other reasons why your work no longer feels as satisfying as it used to. If you feel like you need to restart your engine, here ere are four very good work productivity tips to try.
1. Address Your Work Stressors
Work and personal productivity is a fickle phenomenon. You can’t get yourself into a “productive mode” unless you address the underlying issues of your reluctance. Ask yourself honestly: Why don’t I want to work? Burnout and plain exhaustion are one reason.
But there may be other factors too such as lack of new challenges, changed career objectives, low compensation, underemployment, and more. All of these stress-inducing factors affect your work productivity. Without resolving the root cause of your unwillingness to work, no “miracle” productivity tip will help you.
As a 2021 study found, employees’ productivity levels drop significantly when stress levels are high and work satisfaction rates are low.
So think again: what’s really bothering you? Do you feel underpaid? In that case, try to negotiate a better salary with your current employer. Got disillusioned with the company’s culture? Polish up your resume and start job hunting. You have the power to change things for yourself. Use it!
2. Make More Time for Leisure
Being idle and lounging around the house is often viewed as being “lazy” and “burning time”. But the truth is: every human being needs proper downtime. Overlooking true rest — as in when you turn all your notifications off and focus on a restorative activity (or plain inactivity) — is a common reason why many of us feel perpetually tired.
Science proves that. A recent study found that people who thought that “leisure is wasteful” end up feeling more stressed, anxious, and depressed compared to folks who prioritize good and regular rest.
Now you may be wondering what is “good rest”, really? Psychologists came up with two categories:
- Terminal leisure — activities we take out of pure enjoyment like playing games or listening to a podcast.
- Instrumental leisure — relaxing activities that may also serve a larger purpose. For example, watching a documentary or making friends. These feel more productive.
Yet, both types of leisure should be present in your life to make you feel good and restored!
3. Schedule Breaks Throughout The Day
I don’t want to work when my brain feels foggy. Meaning I can’t concentrate and maintain focus on the task at hand. When this mental fatigue creeps in, sneak in a break.
But similar to rest, breaks should also be well-timed and truly relaxing. Daniel Pink, author of “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” mentions these strategies:
- Work in short splints. Schedule a 52-minute deep work session. Then take a 17-minute break.
- Get moving. Research suggests that 5-minute outdoor walking breaks can help boost energy levels, improve focus, and stave off later afternoon fatigue.
- Be social. South Korean workplace researchers found that social breaks — where you talk with a coworker about something outside of work — are better at reducing stress levels than cognitive breaks (e.g. answering emails) or nutrition breaks (e.g. getting a sugary snack).
- Step away from tech. Don’t spend your break time browsing on your phone. This only further builds up your emotional exhaustion.
4. Negotiate Shorter Working Hours
This tip may not be for everyone. But if you have a leeway to persuade your management to work fewer hours (at least while you recoup from burnout), your productivity levels can go dramatically up. And so does your performance.
Several studies have found that people who work long hours are less efficient, productive, and happy (obviously). The analysis also shows that overtime causes productivity decline, not the other way around.
The country of Iceland took this fact quite to the heart and decided to switch up all government workers to a 4-day work week as an experiment. Guess what? Both employees and public authorities agreed that this was a success. Employee productivity levels and personal outputs remained the same level or got higher despite reduced hours.
Many private companies are following suit and now let people either choose flexible hours or work a reduced workweek. So if your employer is bent on working 50+ hours per week, perhaps you need to start searching for a better one.
The past two years have been mentally taxing for all of us. So you are not alone in your struggle with personal productivity and reluctance to go to work. But don’t let that temp “tiredness” spell grow into an ongoing productivity spill, verging on the side of burnout. Take care of yourself!