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Stuck in a Work Rut? Here’s How to Get Out

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR 

It’s official, you’re in a rut. You feel stuck in your boring daily routine at work. You might feel as if you’re living in an endless loop or treadmill as each workday feels the same. Being in a rut can negatively impact your mood causing sadness, hopelessness, boredom, irritability, and a lack of motivation to name a few. When leaving your job isn’t the answer, you need to find ways to get out of this rut. If you’re in a rut at work try these interventions. 

Change Your Environment

  •     Bring new items into your workspace that appeal to your senses.

○      Embrace colors and shapes that you enjoy seeing or that brighten up your day. Consider replacing old pictures or decor that is no longer visually appealing.

○      Choose items with fragrances that you love to smell or that make you feel focused or calm.

○      If you prefer sound, choose items that have a distinct sound that you enjoy.

○      Select items that have a pleasant texture and place them were you can touch them often.

  •     Clear up any clutter and reorganize your workspace.
  •     Personalize your workplace with pictures, backgrounds on your computer, plants, a favorite coffee mug or water bottle, or action figures/toys. 

Embrace New People

  •     Request to work directly with new colleagues or clients.
  •     Spend more time socially engaging with colleagues or clients that you do not normally engage with as these new interactions can help to spice up your day.
  •     Invite a colleague out to lunch in order to network or socialize in a one-one-one setting.
  •     Provide mentorship to a junior level coworkers or internship students.
  •     Ask for help from colleagues, managers, and friends regarding how they get out of work ruts and try their ideas. 

Switch Up Your Routine

  •     If possible, work different hours such as starting earlier and ending your day early or starting later and ending your workday later. This can be helpful during certain seasons when sunlight is limited.
  •     Request to work from home or switch the day that you normally work from home.
  •     Complete tasks at a different time of your workday or week then you normally would. For example: If you spend the morning answering emails, try switching this to the afternoon. If you usually have meetings in the afternoon try changing them to the morning. 

Seek New Opportunities at Work

  •     Request to work on a new project or with a new team.
  •     Offer to give a presentation or provide training to your colleagues.
  •     Ask to sit in on a meeting that you wouldn’t normally attend.
  •     Bring ideas to your manager and ask that you be involved if any of your ideas are implemented. 

Seek New Opportunities Outside of Work

  •     Seek out freelance opportunities in your field or in an area of interest.
  •     Attend a conference, class, or program in order to advance your skill set.
  •     Increase your contacts by networking with people in your field who are outside of your workplace or company. 

Make Good Use of Breaks

  •     Use your breaks at work to meet your needs. Do you need to rest, eat, reflect, socialize, or zone out? Make sure to meet these needs.
  •     Avoid completing work tasks or personal chores on your breaks as this can add to feelings of being in a rut.
  •     Engage in physical movement such as walking around the office, taking the stairs, or simply standing now and then. 

Take an Unexpected Day Off

  •     Take a sick day, personal day, or vacation day in the middle of the week as this can break up the treadmill feeling of your work week.
  •     Use this time off to participate in activities that you don’t normally engage in. Be careful not to use this day to work from home or to complete chores – which could reinforce the feeling of being in a world of endless obligations. 

It’s easy to feel stuck in your routine at work. In fact, many people do. Yet, if you are able to break free from this rut it can have a positive impact on your physical and emotional health. If you need help getting out of a work rut you could benefit from participating in counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule an appointment with a therapist in Chicago.

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