The feeling that you are powerless against the forward march of time can make you fall into a deep rut. Everyone experiences it at least once in their life. You feel like you aren’t getting enough done or what you are doing has no meaning or value; you feel like the same day is just repeating over and over again. A Gallup study of the State of American Workplace found that almost 70% of employees are not engaged in their work.
Being in a rut can be frustrating and even depressing. The feeling of being “stuck” in one place can build over time as you follow the same routine day in and day out. Eventually, you start to lose your passion and are no longer interested in the things you once were. But just because you feel stuck now doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck forever. Today we will discuss actionable steps you can take to get out of your routine and get excited about work again.
Find the Source of Your Rut
Even if you can recognize the fact that you are in a rut, you might not know what you should do next. Not every rut is the same or has the same solution, so you first need to identify the source of your slump before you make significant changes to your life. Just because you are feeling discontented does not mean you need to impulsively quit your job. Is it the career you have chosen? Is it a boss you work for? Or is it a project you are working on? Identifying the source can help you figure out the solution.
As you are doing a self-assessment, try to identify if the work slump is coming from an emotional or physical depletion. Working long hours and weekends is a much different situation than having to deal with a difficult boss.
If the rut is due to a physical deficiency such as fatigue, then recognize that you are most likely overexerting yourself and this is a reasonable response. Your body naturally reacts this way after a period of intense effort. However, by getting more sleep, eating healthier, and creating more “me” time for yourself, you can help recharge those energy stores.
Don’t berate or criticize yourself for feeling this way. Don’t minimize the problem and think, “I have such a great life, a great career, I don’t have the right to feel this way.” These lines of thoughts can be counterproductive and keep you in the rut longer. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo; it’s time to make some changes!
Break it Down and Give Up Some Control
Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed by work, working out, or keeping in touch with friends or family. Trying to juggle too many things can trigger inaction because it seems like there is just too much to do. Even if you put in your best efforts to accomplish everything, you might find yourself falling further and further behind.
If this is the case, then make a list and break it down into steps. Make them actionable things you can complete quickly and that can be broken into small chunks to keep you from drowning in a pile of work. If you don’t have time to do it and can pass some of it, then delegate it! Clear up your schedule for what really matters. Get one job done and then move onto the next. Creating a positive feedback loop will help to increase your productivity again.
Change your Routines
Frequently, the reason we are in the rut is we get in a comfy place and don’t want to leave it. It can be incredibly challenging to branch out or try something new if we have a comfortable routine. Because we tend to be creatures of habit, it can be easy to slip into a pattern, especially if you are feeling bored. Try something new to get you out of a funk.
Research shows that change, no matter what it is, improves your mood and productivity. An experiment completed between 1924 and 1932 showed that even changing simple things like installing slightly brighter light bulbs, or changing the length of breaks could have a significant increase in productivity. This theory is called the “Hawthorne effect,” and can be easily achieved on your own to help you get out of a productivity slump.
Here are some things you can try:
1.Change your departure and arrival times at the office.
If your work schedule has some flexibility in it, varying your commute times could see significant benefits such as reducing the amount of time you spend in traffic or improving your chances of getting a seat on public transit. It could also switch up the people you interact with on the way.
2. Get outside.
Studies have found that taking a walk outdoors can help reduce feelings of depression, lower stress, and increase mental well-being. Allow yourself a few minutes to relax and think of new things. Even if you don’t have an amazing breakthrough of inspiration on your walk, it is still a great way to reconnect with nature.
3. Switch out your chair.
Alternating your seat can be an easy way to replicate the Hawthorne effect. Try those big exercise balls or a standing desk rather than your regular desk chair. If you don’t like either of those options, you can try working in the conference room for a change of scenery.
4. Work from home.
A two-year study done by a Stanford professor found that workers who telecommuted were more productive, took fewer sick days, and employee attrition decreased by more than 50%! If your job allows you to work from home a few days a week, it can help break the routine and significantly improve your work-life balance.
5. Don’t eat lunch at your desk.
When we are especially busy, we tend to eat lunch at our desk in between emails and spreadsheets. Almost two-thirds of Americans eat lunch at their desk, thinking they are being efficient and making the most of their time. Going out of the office for a short work, or scheduling lunch with a friend or colleague, you can help get out of the afternoon slump. You might find yourself more alert and ready to tackle the difficult tasks after lunch.
Getting out of your rut depends entirely on you. Understanding your mindset and how to shift it is the first step to getting out of your slump. Shake up your daily routine at work to make sure you are moving forward. Change is the most effective way to get you back on the path of happiness and health.