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Mindset & Motivation, Productivity Strategies, Podcast Articles   |   Mar 11, 2018

Your #1 job when you don’t feel motivated (don’t stress over anything else!)

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Your #1 job when you don’t feel motivated (don’t stress over anything else!)

By Angela Watson

This week on the Truth for Teachers podcast: Let’s talk about the one thing an unmotivated teacher should be doing that isn’t about forcing yourself to just be productive. 

What do you do when you’re just not motivated to get things done? Many of us try to force ourselves to be productive and slog through the day.

But I’m experimenting with a different approach.

My #1 job — and yours — when we just don’t feel motivated to get anything done, is to get ourselves energized.

It’s okay to stop forcing ourselves to be productive when we just can’t get ourselves there, and instead, do things that help us feel more productive. We’re no good to anyone around us if we’re de-energized and in a bad mood. Getting ourselves in the right mindset is the foundation for everything else we need to accomplish.

And that means taking a break from the to-do list to focus on things that get us energized is PART of your work and productivity, not a break from it.

Click “play” below to listen to me share my thoughts on this, or skim over the highlights in bullet point form below.

unmotivated teacher

Click play to listen now, or download the MP3 to hear later on.

Things that get you energized are part of your work and productivity, not a break from it.

  • Your number one job and primary focus is NOT to get everything done on your to-do list. The most important thing you need to do is stay energized, inspired, and motivated to get things done.
  • When you don’t feel that motivation, don’t just push through your tasks anyway. Make it your #1 job to get energized. Intentionally do things that help you get fired up.
  • I notice that when I’m not energized, everything on my list takes twice as long to do, and the end result is half as good.
  • Focusing on everything that needs to get done and how little motivation you have to do it just puts more pressure on you and then you’re even less energized.
  • One day I was listening to a podcast for entrepreneurs, and the podcaster (I believe it was James Wedmore?) said he goes surfing every day to keep his head clear. He realized that this is actually part of his work, not a break from it, because it helps him stay energized to do the work later on.
  • I’ve found that when I’m really stuck (like “don’t want to get out of bed” stuck), it’s much more helpful to focus on getting myself energized again instead of trying to be productive and get things done.

How to get energized for your work when you don’t feel motivated

  • Many people have never thought about this, beyond maybe having a playlist that motivates them to exercise or gets them relaxed. Music is powerful, but you need more tools in your toolbox to help you get out of a funk.
  • Books and motivating reading material are helpful: Spend just a few minutes each morning reading something that energizes you.
  • Listen to podcasts and audiobooks that energize you. Allowing someone to speak into your mind and heart for hours has a huge impact on your mood, so be mindful as you choose what you listen to.
  • Spend as much time as possible with people you admire and who inspire you. Use tools like the voice messaging app Voxer to have more of these people in your life, even if you can’t spend much physical time together.
  • Going to education conferences and meeting up there with friends who live far away always gets me fired up.
  • Being out in nature helps me clear my head and think of new possibilities.
  • Turning off my cell phone and disconnecting from the internet helps, too.
  • Figure out what gets YOU energized, and do as many of those things as possible!
  • Remember that inspiration often comes from unlikely places. It often comes when we shake up our routines and get out of our normal way of doing things.
  • Travel of any kind is a way to get outside of what you normally do and inspire divergent thinking.

How focusing on staying energized can help you (and your students) get more done

  • Don’t be afraid to switch things up for your students. When you notice your kids don’t seem energized or motivated, change your routines and introduce new learning activities.
  • Many times, it’s hard for us (and our students) to get motivated in the spring because we’re trying to keep everything the same and just slog through until June. Shake things up to help kids tap into what energizes them, too!
  • Let go of the to-do list, and be present with what’s happening in the moment. Focus on staying present with kids instead of letting your mind race ahead to everything that needs to be done.
  • Inspiration is all around us, but we’re often not present enough to notice it.
  • Make it your goal to be present so you can spend less time rushing ahead (mentally and physically) to the next thing on your list.

This podcast episode is brought to you by Screencast-O-Matic, an easy-to-use screen recorder and video editor tool that makes flipped and blended learning super simple for teachers. You can record your lessons, give students video assignments, send video announcements, and more. The Screencast-O-Matic Video Editor allows you to add text, image overlays, and animations as well as publish to Screencast-O-Matic so everything you need for video production is all in one tool. Get started with 50% off a year subscription at Screencast-o-matic.com/teach.

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Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. I want to thank you so much for speaking the truth and helping us through this journey. You have been my turn to podcast to get me through and get inspired. Your honesty has been of great help. Sometimes when you talk to colleagues it turns into a complain fest and that’s like a sugar high, it doesn’t sustain you. You speak to me when I feel I’m sinking and give me ideas for self care and to move forward.
    May god bless you for you are a God sent.


  2. Sometimes during my planning period I don’t work at all. Usually when I don’t feel motivated or I just can’t get my brain moving. So I sit at my desk. Makes me feel so relaxed

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