Every single day feels exactly the same. And it’s not just quarantine that’s causing the monotony—it’s your job. Yep, you’re in a total work rut, and it’s compounded by the fact that you’re still working from home. Every morning you sign on wearing the same pajama pants you’ve had on for two (OK, at least three) days and churn through your task list on autopilot. Rinse and repeat. You do that same thing every single weekday.
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You’re eager to snap out of it but, unfortunately, so much of the advice you’ve read doesn’t seem realistic in the era of COVID-19. You know things are tight at your company, so now isn’t the time to ask for a promotion or a raise. Travel is still a nightmare, so you can’t recharge with a vacation.
So… now what? How are you supposed to claw your way out of the mundane hole you’ve found yourself stuck in? Have no fear, because we have some advice to help get you out.
1. Give yourself a fresh view
If you’re sick and tired of looking at the same four walls of your home or apartment (umm… aren’t we all?), allow me to remind you how much a change of scenery can boost your focus and your spirits. That’s because our brains love novelty. Working in a new environment can give you a much-needed dose of motivation.
I know what you’re going to say, “But, I can’t really go anywhere! How could I possibly switch up my surroundings?”
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to go far. Try rearranging the furniture in your home or office space. Or, work from your kitchen table for the day rather than your couch. Set up shop on your patio or your balcony. Even adding some new art or a plant to your desktop can help you spruce up your scenery. These seemingly small changes can have a remarkably large impact on your attitude.
2. Switch up your tried and true routine
Similarly, if you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, I’m willing to bet that your work routine is pretty stale. You’ve been hitting the “repeat” button every single workday day for the past several months. It’s time to shake things up a little bit. Now that you’re working from home, you have more flexibility than ever—so, why aren’t you taking advantage of it?
Try getting your workout in over your lunch break. Block off Wednesday as your meeting-free day when you can focus on your larger projects. Or, test out a time management method like the Pomodoro Technique to see if it makes you feel more productive and enthusiastic about your work responsibilities.
Your rut is only going to get deeper if you keep doing the exact same thing day in and day out. Regularly test out some changes to your routine to help make your days feel a little fresher.
3. Go beyond your immediate work team
You talk to the same people at your company Monday through Friday. You see their Slack usernames in your sleep, and you have their voicemail greetings committed to memory. It’s time to widen your circle with some networking. It’s going to look a little different than it used to—you won’t be slapping on a nametag, shaking hands, and bonding over cheap wine and rubbery chicken skewers. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make meaningful connections.
Want to know the best place to start? Within your own company. Especially if you work for a larger organization, I’m willing to bet there are plenty of fellow employees you know almost nothing about. Go beyond your immediate team and connect with that person in finance or schedule a virtual coffee date with someone from the sales team. Not only will you make a valuable connection with someone new, but you’ll also likely learn about your company on a different level—which can give you a renewed outlook and appreciation for your own work and how it contributes to the bigger picture.
4. Take control of your professional development
If you know that your company is just gritting its teeth and trying to get by right now, it’s likely not the best time to ask for a raise or try to secure a promotion. But, while those things might not be on the table, you can (and should!) still have a candid conversation with your boss about some of your other career ambitions.
Maybe you want to get more exposure to other areas of the company and would like to participate in a cross-functional project that’s just getting started. Or perhaps you’re eager to beef up your SEO skills and want to see if you can get paired up with someone in your company who’s an expert. Those are things your manager could support you in doing—but only if you make your desires known.
Remember, professional development is also something you can spearhead yourself. Whether you want to finally launch your personal website or take an online course on Photoshop, go ahead and chase some of those ambitions on your own. They might not directly impact your day-to-day at work (at least not right away), but they can help reignite some passion and enthusiasm for your qualifications and career future.
Let’s face it: most of us have already lost all concept of time. And, being stuck in a rut at work only makes every day feel like even more of the same old, same old. You may have less career options available to you than you usually do (raises and promotions aren’t easy to come by as many companies have tightened their belts), but that doesn’t mean you need to be content with every workday feeling like a carbon copy of the one before it.
Use these four tips to pull yourself out of your work rut and reignite some passion and excitement for your job. Trust me—you deserve that much.