Work Ruts

How to Get Out of a Work Funk and Find Inspiration

It’s not uncommon for both individual contributors and entire companies to sometimes feel stuck in a work rut. Even for business owners such as myself, there are still down days or perhaps even down weeks in which inspiration is tough to come by.

I’ve been running Proven, a small job board, for seven years; the longest I’ve worked for any one company or on any specific project. Even though I love my job, there’s certainly times when things have felt bleak or I have felt less enthusiastic about my work.

For example, it’s always exciting to launch new projects; there is an inherent enthusiasm in undertaking what could be the next big initiative for a company. Furthermore, knowing how much effort went into building something from scratch can make riding the wave of success resulting from your hard work that much more enjoyable. But not every day is like this with most companies. There are days when things slow down and inspiration is fleeting. This is the narrow part of the proverbial hourglass, in which innovation is lacking and there is no new project to rally the workforce around. It is these phases that often kill companies and founders, companies do not close up shop when everything is going well.

Despite these lulls, I’ve always come out of them. Having a supportive business partner has certainly helped at times, but I’ve also learned a few tricks along the way that help me refocus when I feel like I need some inspiration.

In this article, I’m going to share these tips with you. Hopefully they work as well for you as they have for me. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Attend a Conference

A conference is a great way to find new inspiration or rekindle the ambition that inspired you to found the company. You get to interact and network with other entrepreneurs as well as learn from their experiences.

One of the other added benefits of a conference is it gets you away from the office and out of your daily routine. Simply freeing yourself from a monotonous work environment can be enough to get your creative juices going. I often find myself inundated with new ideas during conferences because my mind is free to roam; I’m not solely focused on the next thing I need to do.

Learn Something New

Attending conferences can be a great way to learn a new skill, but there are other opportunities for learning outside of events. There’s a ton of great business podcasts from which you can learn from marketing experts, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and many more—all for free.

Another option is to carve out some time in your calendar each week, even just 30 minutes, to read and learn something new related to your company. This can pay off in the long run and open your eyes to previously overlooked development opportunities.

You can also try starting a new passion project using a technique that you haven’t tried before. Developing new skills is essential to work satisfaction.

Change Up Your Routine

Of all the techniques I provide in this blog, altering my daily routine is the simplest thing I do to create some new energy. Humans get lazy with routine. We get bored. Our perception of time changes when we follow the same routine day in and day out. Anything you can do to vary this is a good thing.

Variation can be achieved with little effort. Just having a slightly different work environment can have a big impact. I sometimes relocate my work space, knowing a new environment can often prompt renewed energy and inspiration.

You can also try changing the time of day you work, or move your schedule of meetings to the afternoon instead of your standard morning sessions. Anything to create some change is good.

Remove Distractions

Distractions can be a real soul killer. Boisterous colleagues or noisy office construction can be enough to take even the most focused employee out of their rhythm. Coupling this lack of flow with feeling a little less inspired than usual can make for a disastrously unproductive day.

If distractions are too great to overcome in your current environment, you can try working in a conference room or working from home if your company allows it. A coffee shop is also an option for people that don’t need absolute silence to concentrate. Depending on how you choose to remove distractions, you can add some of the variety that I refer to above to your life.

Work as a Team

Coming together with colleagues on a project can boost your energy. By collaborating with your co-workers you’ll receive valuable feedback as to the usefulness of your ideas. You’ll also be to glean new ideas or ways of thinking from your co-workers that depart from your standard approach, which is not only a benefit to the work you’re currently undertaking, but also a great way to learn new things.

If your work doesn’t completely involve your team, a team brainstorming session can be a great way to reinvigorate not only yourself, but all parties involved. It doesn’t have to take long, and a lot of great ideas that not only pertain to the task at hand but also inform other business objectives can come out of it. It not only helps break up your routine, but does so for your colleagues as well.

Self-Awareness is Key

It’s natural to sometimes feel off your game, it happens to the best of us. However, if you are self-aware enough to recognize when and why this is happening, you can take steps to bring yourself out of a work funk before the problem is too great to overcome.

I’ve provided a few simple tips about things that have helped get me out of a rut, but there are plenty of other ideas out there that might work better for you. If you have a great tip for re-energizing yourself, please share it in the comments.

For more ideas on how to avoid the dreaded “rut” and keep employee morale high, check out the blog post Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale.

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About the Author
Sean Falconer is Founder and CTO of Proven. He is a proud Canadian and reformed academic. He is passionate about making hiring for small businesses simple, streamlined and frictionless. Follow Sean on Twitter @seanfalconer.

 

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