One more hour.
It wasn’t that I disliked my job. But after a long day of filing papers at my internship, I was losing my edge. My sense of urgency about my work was dissipating. I felt guilty about it, but also powerless to change.
Jesus’ words to his disciples seemed extremely relevant at that moment:
Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).
God calls many of us to spend the majority of our waking hours at work. This time belongs to God. We are to be good stewards of it, then, using the time to the best of our abilities. We need to have a sense of urgency about our work, maintaining a high level of concentration and professionalism throughout the day. To do this, it is helpful to understand why we might feel indifferent or unmotivated by the end of the day.
Sometimes, our lack of motivation might indicate that we are in the wrong profession. Your job might not be drawing on your gifts and talents, or your comparative advantage. This might mean that you may be called to seek a role that is more satisfying to you and that allows you to better fulfill the cultural mandate, God’s first job description for mankind, found in Genesis 1:28:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
But what if you generally like your job but still feel burnt out or unmotivated? It’s only human; as much as we love our jobs, we find ourselves wanting to leave, wanting to work on something different by the evening.
Here are some suggestions to remain motivated so that you can redeem the time you have at work.
Work Toward the Big Picture
It helps to step back and evaluate how the work you are doing is creating value for you and your company. How are you supporting and contributing to the vision and mission of your organization?
If you are not able to understand the significance of your daily tasks, you may be dealing with the knowledge problem. Elise Amyx explains,
The knowledge problem means we can’t always see the big picture because knowledge is dispersed. In the vocational sense, this means we may not understand how our work is part of a much larger economic dynamic. If we can’t easily see how our work contributes to the common good, we may understate the impact of what we do.
It is crucial to talk about this with someone who can help you rediscover the importance of your job. In the end, you may find that you need to adjust your responsibilities in order to achieve a better outcome.
If you truly believe that you are doing something valuable, you will be more interested in what you do, keeping you focused on the task at hand.
Perhaps you understand just how your role adds value to your organization. It may be helpful to evaluate how each of your daily tasks creates value. It can be easy to do things the way that you have always done them for the sake of checking these items off the list.
It is much harder to think and ask strategic questions about how to create the most value:
How can I improve the way I do my work to make it better?
Can I do a better job of prioritizing my tasks?
How can I not just meet expectations, but go the extra mile?
The way you do every single task has profound implications. As Hugh Whelchel writes in How Then Should We Work?:
Because we celebrate human creativity as evidence of our being made in the Creator’s likeness, Christians must encourage one another to do work worthy of our best efforts and worthy of our high calling.
Constantly reevaluating how you are working is difficult, but it facilitates a long-term, outcomes-oriented approach to your work. Innovation and strategic thinking can help you better manage your time and resources while doing truly meaningful work.
Put it in Writing
Have you ever had that feeling that you don’t have too much to do at work?
At the beginning of every day, set aside ten minutes just to write down everything that you want or need to tackle for the day. Don’t just include the things that you have to do; also write down the ways that you aspire to further your organization through your role.
Putting your daily tasks on a piece of paper frees your mind to think about your actual work. It is also a visual aid which shows you exactly how much you really could be doing that day.
Though simple, these practices can help us turn good intentions into action. They can help us to redeem the time that we have by keeping our minds in focus for the task at hand. Instead of counting down the hours at work, we can use strategies such as these to become better stewards of our time and to become better witnesses in the workplace.
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© 2001 - 2013 Institute for Faith, Work & Economics™. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Institute for Faith, Work & Economics™. Article by Kristie Eshelman.