Groundhog Day, Burnout, Motivation, Time, Lockdown, Employee Engagement

Groundhog Day, Burnout

How To Break The Covid-19 Groundhog Day Cycle

1/27/2021 3:05:00 PM

Many of us have not had the opportunity to experience or enact significant change during lockdown; hence, the feeling of time stretching on to create one endless day.

For eons, humans have divided time into hours, days, weeks, etc. In lockdown, it’s much easier to lose track of those markers. However, one way to experience momentum is by creating goals that aren’t related to traditional measures of time, but rather are contained within a single day. The idea is that these goals provide multiple little signals of progress that serve to break up our day — for example, the number of steps taken. Perhaps it’s 5,000 steps before your first meeting, 10,000 steps by lunch, and 15,000 steps before you unwind at night.

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The goal is to measure progress in a different way rather than with time. The additional benefit is that this technique takes advantage of a concept behavioral scientists refer to as thegoal gradient effect. It explains how the closer we are to a reward, the more motivated we are to continue in pursuit of achieving it.

An oft-cited study reflecting this tells how a loyalty car wash card with ten stamps needed for a free car wash was completed faster than one with eight stamps needed. The difference? The car wash card with ten stamps had two stamps already on it. It didn’t matter that this pre-stamped card required the same amount of effort as the other card (eight visits). The fact that it was pre-stamped showed progress toward the ultimate goal.

Another way to create an artificial sense of time is to identify and/or create temporal markers to inspire change. This is known as the, and it harnesses the motivational power of new beginnings. The most widely-known example of this is the turning of a new year and the subsequent resolutions, but you can turn any event into a fresh start.

#2: Address burnoutOne of the hottest topics on my clients’ minds right now is how to address the wave of burnout their employees are experiencing. When Covid-19 started, there was a sense that we were in it together and would be back in the office shortly. Not only did that not come to pass, but it was compounded by a period of prolonged uncertainty. That uncertainty is exhausting and can lead to burnout.

Measuring burnout within an organization or even checking in with yourself about how you’re feeling can be accomplished quite easily. Asking yourself how motivated you are, how your energy levels feel, and if simple tasks and decisions feel easy or effortful is a good place to start. Then, focus on what you can control. Motivation is what we need to dial-up to combat burnout. Motivation is a combination of our ability to complete a task, our belief that it has value and our belief that there will be a reward upon completion. Use that as a guide to selecting what types of projects to work on.

#3 Break out of autopilotThese rinse and repeat days have likely created unconscious habits that are not in our best interest. One way to break things up is to change the behavioral pattern that’s causing the stress, pressure, or unhealthy behavior. To do so, you must first identify your stress trigger. This is important because we are often unaware as to what triggers our stress response, or we don’t consider it deeply enough. Then, think about what’s stopping you before turning your attention to what can motivate you to break the automaticity cycle. As previously covered in Forbes,

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.#4: Find inspiration and meaningIn a world without time, purpose still exists. Purpose is a strong motivator and can be one of the most impactful ways for employers to keep employees motivated when every day feels the same. Individual purpose is largely comprised of finding meaningful activities in which to engage. Employers can and should, as part of their purpose journey, help individuals figure this out — but any individual can autonomously surface this for themselves.

Purpose combines the pressures and needs existing in the outside world, with pre-existing internal motivators to find the sweet spot of what actions will feel purposeful. With more purpose injected into our lives, perhaps we can break the time loop cycle of lockdown and come out on the other end proud of what we accomplished.

Read more: ForbesWomen »

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