Some days it’s tough to put on your game face and stay focused on the activities ahead. For some, this work-related malaise strikes on Monday, but any day of the week can have a similar impact.

The Morning Ritual

As you jump in your car, and back it out of the driveway, you’re thinking of the unused excuses that might work to call in and skip the day. A couple weeks ago, you made up a parent-teacher conference for your 5-year-old. When the manager extended the conversation by asking about your child, you added a bit more flare, informing the manager that your young daughter was having issues with Science. After you hung up, you wondered if Science is taught at that grade, but the excuse worked, and you stayed home. Once back in the house, you slept a couple more hours, and finally got your day going closer to lunchtime.

There are a few techniques that can help you stay motivated even when lethargy surfaces:

#1: Focus on something that can get done in 30 minutes or less.

When your brain is functioning as slowly as molasses, it’s important to avoid big projects or tough work. Instead, take on a small, definable, and doable task first thing in the morning. For example, you might need to write a summary of a recent meeting for the key stakeholders. Gather the information you need, and stay focused until you get it done. Once you’re done, take a short break, and top-off your coffee. It’s a small victory, but one that can give you some traction.

#2: Review the positive comments in your most recent performance appraisal.

Everyone is driven by positive recognition. You love it when others think you bring value to the team, department, and organization. During performance appraisals, managers will indicate what you have done well, and where you can improve. When feeling a bit unmotivated, review what your manager likes about you.

Jack, you’re an excellent team player! We appreciate your commitment to our department.” By reading those comments, you’re reminded that others depend on your skills and capabilities. Instead of sitting at your desk and waiting for time to tick by, get up and ask others how you can be of assistance.

#3: Get the checklist.

When I’m having a tough time focusing, I quickly make a checklist of work that needs to get done. From previous experience, I know that if I am stagnant, I will lose the day. In fact, I might get absolutely nothing done. With the checklist in hand, I write down the absolute three items that I will get done that day. I will work on Item #1, and will not stop until it’s complete. By taking this approach, I can have a relatively successful day even though my motivation is quite low.

As a manager and leaders of your organizations, you must keep a positive attitude even when you are a bit down. If your employees see that you lack energy, they will soon emulate this emotion. Keep a professional and moving-forward approach, and you’ll have a productive workday.