The Difference Between Burnout And No Motivation

Posted on - in Work Productivity

Your motivation at work has hit an all-time low.

It has become a struggle to wake up in the morning, brush your teeth and drive to the office. Once you’re at work your productivity is non-existent and it’s a challenge to get anything done.

You simply don’t want to do your job. This feeling is affecting your professional life, personal life and overall happiness.

This feeling can come from one of two things: burnout or lack of motivation. It’s important to know the difference between the two, so you can make important decisions that will improve your productivity, happiness and life.

It’s crucial to not only figure out why you have no motivation to work but also determine how to improve the situation. If you instead think what you’re feeling will just go away on its own, you might unnecessarily cope with months or even years of intense discontent.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is a form of long-term depression that comes from the everyday stresses of your job. Although there is no definitive diagnosis given to burnout, it is widely accepted as an illness that is similar to depression.

Burnout is often caused by the repetitive nature of your job. You might get tired of the same commute, tasks or work environment day in and day out. This can cause you to resent your job and be miserable at home. Burnout is common in people who are stressed at work, don’t love what they do, and poorly balance their work and personal life.

However, it can also occur in people who do — or at least once did — like the occupations they have but don’t get adequate support at their workplace. Your risk of burnout goes up if you often face or hear about traumatic circumstances too, such as if you’re an emergency room worker or a domestic violence counselor.

In cases where people’s careers might involve them directly saving or improving the lives of others through their actions, they may find it increasingly hard to reach that ever-important balance between work and other parts of life.

Often, people at risk of burnout tell themselves that they’ll take time off from work “soon,” but they can’t justify actually doing it. That likelihood goes up when they work in environments that are chronically short-staffed.

Signs of Burnout

There is no official diagnosis, so it’s difficult to detect the exact causes of burnout. However, here are a few signs that could tell you that you’re about to suffer from burnout:

  • You think your job is meaningless
  • You’re exhausted all of the time
  • You procrastinate work and personal responsibilities
  • You isolate yourself and withdraw from conversations
  • You take work frustrations out on family and friends
  • You’re either late for work or you don’t show up at all
  • You’re less patient than normal
  • You engage in escapist behaviors such as risk-taking activities, excessive drinking or overindulging in food

When you look at that list, it’s not hard to understand why people have no motivation to work while suffering from burnout. If you can recognize any of these signs, you might be approaching the same condition, or maybe you’re even already in that state.

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Difference Between Burnout and No Motivation

It’s important to distinguish the difference between burnout and lack of motivation. As you now know, burnout is a form of depression that happens due to the everyday stresses caused by your role, colleagues, supervisors or a combination of all three. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight either. It takes a long time of performing the same job over and over again to experience burnout.

This is different than not being motivated. No motivation means that you have no desire to perform your job. This lack of determination doesn’t come from the everyday grind of your job. This happens a lot quicker than burnout, because you’ll know right away if you aren’t motivated.

There are many causes that could determine your lack of motivation, such as:

  • No interest in the job
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of failure
  • Management that doesn’t provide sufficiently challenging tasks
  • A lack of direction given for tasks
  • Confusion about the scope of one’s role
  • Little or no support offered by colleagues

How to Cope With Burnout and No Motivation

Burnout and no motivation are two different entities, so there are different ways to deal with them. Here are some ways to cope with and prevent burnout:

  • Take a vacation or leave of absence: If burnout is caused by the stress of working too much, then a vacation is a perfect way to wind down and escape from work. It’s a great stress reliever, and — hopefully — you’ll be more relaxed when you return to work.
  • Make healthy choices: Exercise and a healthy diet can make you feel better throughout the day. Exercise is also a great way to relieve the stress that comes with work. Healthy choices can boost your productivity and improve your overall mood.
  • Talk to your employer: Your boss knows that burnout is a common occurrence, and he or she has probably faced this problem before. Talk to your boss and ask for some guidance. Your happiness is worth it! Some of the things you might bring up during the conversation include shifting parts of your workload to other team members or getting trained to work in other areas of the company so that the tasks you do aren’t overly repetitive.
  • Get enough rest: Mainly if your job is one that requires taking care of others, you’re probably not accustomed to recognizing and attending to your own needs. One of them that often gets overlooked is sleep. Proactively adjust your schedule to give your body the slumber it needs to recover from burnout. Aromatherapy oils, hot baths and soothing music can all help you progress toward shut-eye when it’s difficult to drift off.

If you feel like you’re dealing with a lack of motivation, here are some ways to increase your motivation:

  • Find something you care about: Money is very important, which may lead you to take a job that you don’t care about but pays well. This can lead to a lack of motivation. Finding a job you care about should be a top priority.
  • Keep a stress diary: Get in the habit of starting a diary, where you list every occurrence in a given day that causes you stress. Then, check for patterns to see if there are things in your control that you could alter to reduce your instances of having no motivation to work.
  • Meet more colleagues: If you’re dissatisfied with your co-workers, it might just be because you don’t know enough of them well. Becoming more social at the appropriate times could reduce your problem of having no motivation to work. Take small steps like sitting next to strangers in the lunch room and striking up conversations with them.
  • Turn tasks into games: Regardless of what you’re doing, there are almost always ways to make the job more fun. If you’re writing a document, challenge yourself to do it with five spelling errors or less. When entering data into a spreadsheet, try to increase your speed without compromising accuracy. Those small methods of pushing yourself could give your mind the variety it craves.
  • Set goals: You might not be motivated because you aren’t driven toward any goals. Figure out what you want to accomplish in life and set goals to help get you there. You will find your motivation and productivity increase when you do this.

Are You Experiencing Burnout or Are You Unmotivated?

Figure out if you are experiencing burnout or simply a lack of motivation at work. Then take the appropriate steps to solve your problem and boost your productivity!

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

Latest posts by Kayla Matthews (see all)

4 Comments

  1. Best Money Tips: Little Things That Make Life Easier | Blended

    […] The Difference Between Burnout And No Motivation — Burnout and having no motivation are two different things. Identifying which one you’re experiencing will help you figure out the best ways to deal with it. [Productivity Theory] […]

    3 years ago
  2. Emilie Burke (@burkedoes)

    I think you’ve misdefined burnout. Burnout is when you work so hard you lose the willpower to keep going and productivity decreases. It has less to do with depression. People who work for startups, for example, experience high-rates of burnout because they have to work so hard.

    3 years ago
    • Kayla Matthews

      Hi Emilie,

      Thanks so much for opening up a discussion on this topic!

      Burnout is indeed often found among professionals who have to work very hard for their jobs. However, burnout affects more than just productivity. If often affects individuals’ emotional states and their general quality of life, similar to the ways in which depression does.

      In fact, in a recent study of 5,000 teachers, 90 percent that researchers identified as having burnout also met diagnostic criteria for depression. (Source: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-burnout-should-be-taken-seriously)

      The thing is, because many, many people often think burnout is just like any other kind of stress at work, the emotional toll these feelings have on employees is often undermined.

      Thanks so much for reading and please do reach out with any other questions or comments!

      Best,

      Kayla

      3 years ago
  3. Jamie

    Kayla is right, and burnout does’nt always reflect working too hard anymore than excessive exercise can lead to burnout. Usually a break, rest, holiday will fix it.

    But years of doing the same booring job day after day and having no real life can lead to the sort of burnout that is associated with depression.

    8 months ago

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