How to Break Free from a Work Rut

Normally, you’re pretty engaged in your job.

You know the numbers; only 34% of the American workforce is engaged in their work.

This isn’t you normally, however lately you’ve been less productive and generally feeling less than enthusiastic about your job. You’re starting to worry that your boss might notice that you’re just not that into your job right now. The job is a good one but, frankly, you’re a little bored with it and most of the time it doesn’t excite you like it used to—or like it should. Is there a way to break free from the rut you’re in at work? Here are some suggestions that might help. 

Self-Evaluate Your Way to Job Engagement

If you’re feeling disengaged at work, it’s time to do a little therapy on yourself. Can you figure out when this slump that you’re in started? Was there something specific that triggered the change in how you’re feeling? We’re trying to get to the bottom of whether something specific happened at work, or perhaps, you’re just a little bored with your current responsibilities. Do you have a new boss who is overly critical of your work? Is there a new employee on the team that’s causing disruption? Are you butting heads with someone who is senior to you? 

Maybe none of these issues are the problem at all. Ask yourself if there’s something going on in your personal life that’s causing a distraction. Maybe you’re just burning out or need time to decompress after a big project deployment. It’s normal to feel tired after a big push. The point here, though, is to self-reflect your way to a solution if that’s possible. 

Take Some Time Off 

If you’re feeling disengaged from work, maybe it’s time to disengage from work. If you’re like most Americans, you do a terrible job taking time off. Most Americans leave vacation time on the table every year. If you feel like you are in a work rut, maybe the answer is to take some time off and enjoy your life a little. You can even take a few days off to extend your weekend and not travel anywhere, just unplug from work and go enjoy the world for a little while. This is so helpful if you’ve lost sight of the goals that drive you to work. Sometimes all you need is to get away to gain some perspective. 

Be Mindful 

Here’s the deal; humans cannot multitask. The science shows that your ability to answer emails and IMs while on a video conference and working on a project just doesn’t work well.

This constant context shifting and pressure from all sides not only burns you out; it can wreck your health. If you are feeling a thin layer of psychic insulation between you and your ability to care about your job, it may be that you need to change your work approach. Consider the practice of mindfulness, where you work on one task (just one!) in a block. For example: 

  • Block 1: Answering emails 
  • Block 2: Responding to instant messaging 
  • Block 3: Meetings and appointment time 
  • Block 4: Stand up, walk around, take a screen break 

If you can, be open about your mindfulness practice. Talk with your supervisor about your struggles to remain engaged and what you’re trying to do to fix the problem. If your boss or your team are not supportive and the pressure is too much, move on to the next paragraph for a possible answer. 

Consider a Job Change 

Sometimes being in a work rut means it’s time to let go. That’s okay; in this unprecedented job market, we’ve seen four million people leave their jobs every month for the past six months. At Prosum, we connect talented people with engaging, meaningful work. We do it every day. If you’ve tried to reengage and get out of the work slump, you’re in and it’s not working, maybe it’s time to give us a call.

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