How to rediscover your work mojo when you’re stuck in a rut

·3-min read
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How to rediscover your work mojo when you’re stuck in a rut. Source: Getty

When life is stressful – as it has been for so many people in 2020 – it’s easy to lose motivation at work. Things that once felt easy can feel difficult. Small things can tip us into overwhelm. And when it comes to our job, it can be easy to lose sight of why we do what we do.

According to psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, the three building blocks of motivation are autonomy, mastery and connection.

Rediscovering our work mojo can be as simple as focusing on increasing one of these drivers.

Find more freedom in what you do

Autonomy refers to how much freedom and choice we have within our work. Are we in charge of our own goals or are these set for us? Does your manager give you freedom to decide how you approach certain tasks or are you micromanaged? Do you have flexibility in where and when you work?

All of these factors can make a big difference to your motivation at work.

Try to find ways to increase the amount of autonomy and freedom you have. This might involve a conversation with your manager to allow you to have more freedom with how you complete the tasks that form part of your job.

Alternatively, you might consider speaking to your Human Resources department to see if you can maintain the degree of flexibility in where you work from that most of us experienced during Covid-19.

Master a new skill

Another way to rediscover your work mojo can come from learning or even mastering a new skill. Spend time reflecting on where you want to be in your career several years from now and consider what key skills you may need to learn. Put in place a learning plan for yourself, perhaps focusing on one key skill you will learn every quarter.

While some of us are lucky enough to have a learning and development budget provided by our employer, there are lots of free and inexpensive courses available to upskill in all sorts of areas. Check out sites such as,, and LinkedIn Learning for a few options to explore.

Focus on human connection

Experiencing human connection is critical for staying motivated. Try to connect with your teammates, or even your friends, during the workday about both work and non-work topics. Even if this is only via phone or video calls, prioritising human connection as part of our day will help you feel much more motivated and happier while working from home.

You might want to take it a step further and organise regular group catch-ups with your team, whether this be virtual happy hours (for teams who are split between home and the office), virtual trivia evenings, or even a face-to-face catchup if Covid restrictions allow for that in your area.

While you may not be able to increase all three of these areas, even just focusing in on one will lead to a significant increase in your work motivation and will get you out of your rut.

Dr Amantha Imber is the founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work, a podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful people.

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