The repetitive nature of our jobs can make us feel like we’re Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, stuck in replay with the same monotonous tasks each and every day. It’s easy to fall victim to the mundanity and routine of our work — even if we love what we do. We feel stuck. Trapped, even. Worse yet, once we start down this path, it can seem impossible to pull ourselves out of the spiral, let alone come back to our desk energized and driven to innovate. Our advice? Disrupt your patterns.
In his book, Let The Elephants Run, David Usher argues that creativity is a “mutation” in patterns to produce something new. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to get a little destructive in our day-to-day. Here’s some ways to re-energize yourself at work when you feel that 3 o’clock slump coming on.
There are a plethora of articles that will tell you how to make the best to-do list. Ultimately, the to-do list that works for you will be different than your coworkers’, and will be one that helps you organize your tasks and use your time efficiently. This is a great opportunity for a disruptive act — clear the clutter in your mind, and organize your tasks in a new way that makes sense to you whether by priority, due date, or even alphabetically if that’s your style.
Often we focus on getting the work done that’s expected of us. Reset by assigning yourself goals. Create realistic ones that you can actually meet for each day.
If you’re feeling bold, you could even set goals for the week. Setting these short-term priorities, that you’ll achieve more quickly and frequently than long-term goals, will make you feel more productive. And completing your projects and checking tasks off of your list will reward you with a sense of progress and achievement, which in turn makes you more productive — and more positive. Focus on the little wins. They lead to big wins.
While multitasking has become the new norm, sometimes doing everything is stopping us from actually doing anything. Monotasking is a great solution, and allows you to completely dedicate yourself to one project. Setting aside time each day to monotask can totally change how you work. Research suggests that monotasking actually makes you more productive, and leaves you with a better memory than if you were multitasking all the time. Schedule time in your day to dedicate 30 minutes or even an hour working on a task — and only that task — with your undivided attention. We know it’s scary, but put away your phone, close out of your email, and stick on those headphones. It’s grind time.
Reevaluate Your Workload.
If you’re feeling either bored or overwhelmed with your workload, address this. You may need to ask for more — or swap for new — projects to help spark interest in your work again. Ask your manager if your skills can be used more widely.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling overworked, you may need to delegate assignments to your team members. Lightening your load could increase the quality of your work in other areas, and make coworkers who have less on their plates feel more valuable to the team. Either way, be sure to communicate this with your boss, and your peers. These conversations will bring clarity to what is expected of you, and help you feel more confident in the work that you do.
Ask For More Flexibility.
Routine, while helpful for some, can totally drain others. Maybe you need to switch up your work schedule by working remotely or with more flexible hours. Researchers found that a more flexible schedule can boost your productivity, in addition to your work satisfaction.
The responsibility that come with a more flexible schedule increases your sense of autonomy, and actually leads to a better wellbeing. Becoming self-reliant makes you feel more content, which makes your team stronger. It’s a win-win.
Go For A Walk.
We’re all heard that taking a break from your work can actually make you more efficient in completing it. Getting up from your desk is proven to increase both your energy and your engagement in your work. You’ve also probably heard that taking a different route to work is a great way to reenergize. It’s not rocket science, but when it comes to disrupting patterns, you can take this logic a step further by changing your direction and your purpose regularly and often.
This could be something easy, like choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, heading to the bathroom that’s farther away, or walking to a coworker’s cubicle to ask a question, rather than calling or emailing like you usually do. It could be something bigger too, like eating lunch alone in a crowded place instead of at your desk. Beyond the physical benefits of taking the extra steps, your mind will thank you for it too. Make it a habit to switch up where you go so you’ll see and experience things differently.
Find Community At Your Job.
Gallup suggests that if you have a good friend at work, you are happier. Those who have a buddy at the job show more engagement with their work and have better stress management skills. And honestly, who better understands your work stress than the people who work with you? Building relationships with your coworkers helps to build trust within your team, and can increase morale as well.
If you’re not into being buddy-buddy at work, try instead to set up a time just to help a coworker. Studies have shown that altruism in the workplace can make you happier. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, this probably isn’t a great choice for you. But if you feel comfortable and have the time, reach out to see what your coworkers need help with.