HAVE YOU EVER come into work, sat down at your
computer to begin a project, opened your editor, and
then just stared at the screen? This happens to me all
the time, so I understand your struggle.
Even if you love your job, you don’t always feel
like doing it every day. There are so many factors
that influence your ability to show up to work with
enthusiasm and then work hard all day long.
External events can take priority in your mind—family
struggles, a breakup, a sick pet—and make it difficult
to focus. Then, of course, there are the struggles at work
that can make it hard to feel motivated. Getting a bad
review can knock you off course. Likewise, if you work
really hard on a project and your manager doesn’t
seem to value it at all, you might won-
der why you are working so hard.
Other times you have to work on
tasks you don’t enjoy (for me, that is
writing lots of tests, or documentation)
or projects that aren’t challenging. If
your work is uninteresting or if a task
you have been assigned seems beneath
your ability, finding your motivation
can be challenging.
So, what do you do? Many people
turn to procrastination or ignoring
the task—but that only postpones the
inevitable. You can try to talk your way
out of the assignment, and maybe your
manager will support you, but at some
point the work must get done.
If you want to be successful, then it
serves you better to rise to the occasion
no matter what. That means learning
how to push through challenges and
deliver valuable results.
Since this happens to me quite often, I have captured five of my best
strategies for turning out amazing
work even when I don’t feel like it.
Gamify Your Process
Dealing with a really big project used
to hold me back. If the project had lots
of tasks I didn’t know how to do or that
seemed really difficult, I resisted even
starting because I was so overwhelmed
by the scope.
Of course, this meant I procrastinated until only the minimum amount
of time remained to complete the project. Then I would end up working crazy
long hours, and sometimes I ended up
with code that “worked” but was in no
way ready for prime time (for example,
a few bugs, not enough coverage of
edge cases, minimal testing, working
only in my dev environment because
I could not make it work on staging,
and so on.). This was super stressful
and usually meant my work was not as
good as it could have been if I had only
This was one of the biggest obstacles early in my career: I had a tough
time getting started.
I discovered that if I made the process of getting started easier, those
How to Get
Article development led by
Five strategies for pushing through.
BY KATE MATSUDAIRA