When You’re Feeling Unmotivated

Bored with face resting on hand

I sat down this evening to write a post I’ve had in my idea pad for some time. I was going to write about mobile and the enterprise. Tonight I feel unmotivated to write about either of those.

Sometimes a topic sounds of great interest, and other times your brain isn’t in that same through process to think of great things to write about it.

The Question

What do you do when you’re not motivated to do something?

I think that’s a very easy question to answer in my case for posting to my blog. Switch gears and choose something else that I feel more in the mood to write.

That’s all good for my blog, but what about a project that you have to get done? What if there are deadlines breathing down the back of your neck and there’s no way you could put it off even one more hour?

That question is a bit more tough to answer when you consider those circumstances. Now you can’t simply set your current project aside and move to something that inspires you more.

You’re stuck.

Take a second to think of a situation like this you’ve been in. It could be as soon as yesterday, it could be last year.

Ask yourself again.

What do you do when you’re not motivated to do something?

Means of Motivation

One of the biggest challenges of Learning & Development is to motivate people to want to spend their time with us and not something they’d rather be doing.

There are all sorts of things to attempt to motivate. You know, those things to try to get a person lost in what they’re doing.

Games? Yes, that’s one of them. That popular buzzword gamification, but really it’s just motivation. Or at least the attempt of motivation.

Have you ever been in a situation where you can tell somebody put a lot of effort into trying to motivate you to do something? Something like a training event where they tried so hard to “gamify” it?

I have.

The problem with this is that they tried so hard they forgot about the content, it’s boring and there’s too much. It was intended that I’d be motivated to go further, to do good, but I just wanted to get through it as quick as possible.

This is what happens 9 times out of 10 when training is “gamified.”

How do you motivate someone that’s just not as interested as you in the topic?

The Answer(s?)

I don’t have the answer to how boring content can be made into something fun.

I do have the answer to how you can get somebody through it as quickly as possible so there’s less chance they will get bored though!

I have dedicated a large part of the past year working within an IT L&D department thinking and wondering how this stuff could be made less boring.

People don’t have time to waste on training, they don’t have time to enjoy the content you spent so much time working on. They also don’t care about it, they just want to finish and do their jobs, what matters to them and what they get paid for.

I think myself and a teammate had an aha moment together today when we finally realized what needed to be done. I had been veering down this path for some time but finally became aware of the path I was steering.

Simple, graphically beautiful, wordless (or very few), and just amazingly easy to follow job aids. Yes, but back the words to as few as possible, show don’t tell, and start there for every single training event needed. Okay maybe not every one, but it’s a great place to start!

Beyond the job aid(s), continue to monitor the effect of it to see if that is improving people’s work.

Is it?



Then you may have to check to see if something else is needed. Hopefully you’ve already ruled out a system problem or some other problem that training can’t fix.

So that’s it, if somebody never has to even take training and is able to either search out the information they need from others or find a job aid that will help them, that’s motivating.

So this post has probably changed subjects several times since you started reading, but that’s okay. I just wanted to write some ideas down and my mind feels so much clearer for doing it.

Please share some of the things that caught your interest in the comments section and what you do about them.

Don’t be shy, nobody is going to judge you or scare you. We’re all here to learn and be part of a great community of L&D professionals who each have their own way to approach problems that are as unique as we are.

Tell me.

What’s your answer?

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2 thoughts on “When You’re Feeling Unmotivated”

  1. Hi Nick – I agree it’s all around the motivation and finding a way to clutch in with the learners. For me I try to do exactly that and find something that can make the topic matter interesting. Frequently it seems that H&S is one of the areas that people say is ‘boring’. In actual fact that can be a really interesting topic by coming up with some entertaining mishaps and scenarios. Thing is though, I (just like everyone else) can’t come up with all the ideas so it’s good to have a community approach to design too – be cool if we could achieve that when we go about designing elearning but it’s not always practical. I do like the approach of at least making a quick route through the learning if not making the whole thing quick. People who ‘know it’ or can fly through can do just that.
    Predictably I like to use some humour in learning – but knowing when to use that and when to hold back has always been my shortcoming!

    • Thanks for commenting Nigel! I would always choose the quick route through most things that come out of my work lol. Recently our compliance “training” was made into an amazing race theme (which I admit I’ve never watched in the first place) and it really was just a pig with lipstick on it. It was just as boring as ever and I couldn’t help but wonder how much money was wasted to make it that way when they could have just had a big huge document and let people say they “read” it rather than making them go through it. Not like the fact they went through the training is going to save them from a lawsuit anyway when it’s some higher up that messes up.

      Love humor, hard to use it right though too. Seems people get too offended by everything and just in general take life too darn serious. I find your humor is no shortcoming, wherever it may go as long as it creates laughter then it’s worth it. Unfortunately somebody’s always going to choose to get their feelings hurt but that’s the thing, it’s a choice. You can choose to be offended and miserable or you can choose to laugh and have fun with life 🙂 I like to choose the latter and I know you do too.

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