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How to get out of a work slump for good

Last updated on
September 24, 2021

No matter how much you like your job, there are days when the last thing you want to do is go to work. In itself, this is nothing to worry about – but when the days stretch into several weeks or even months, things get trickier. Being in a work slump has a greater effect than you might think, and often those negative feelings aren’t restricted to your work life; they begin to erode your general happiness and wellbeing too, making you feel undervalued and unmotivated. To help you make quick work of it, here’s exactly how to get out of a work slump.

1.   Figure out what’s causing the problem

Obviously, you first need to find out what’s causing your slump. If you feel unmotivated and de-energized at work, it may seem that the reason for the slump is your job itself – but this isn’t necessarily the case. Occurrences in your personal life can also play a part, from worrying about money to not eating well, or simply not getting enough sleep.

Take time to isolate the contributing factors. Think about when you started to feel this way – was there a trigger, something that set it off? If you feel exhausted, is it more a physical or emotional fatigue?

If you’re sure work itself is the reason for your slump, try to be more specific. Do you feel bored with a certain task or project? Is there a toxic environment in your office? Do you feel unappreciated by your boss? Maybe you think you’re in the wrong job altogether? Without knowing what caused your work slump, it can be difficult to get out of it for good.

2.   Take a break

By “take a break”, we don’t mean grab a coffee or go for a walk. We mean take a break: a vacation, a holiday, a retreat – something that removes you from your setting. Having enough time for yourself is crucial; when our lives are all about work our stress and anxiety levels soar, and insomnia and depression are far more likely. These aren’t things to take lightly (obviously), so prioritize your health, happiness and wellbeing.

If you don’t have many vacation days left, a long-weekend or even one day’s leave can help. Try to go somewhere, if possible: if you stay at home it’s easy to get distracted by chores and responsibilities, and the whole point of this break is to get away from it all – to have some breathing and thinking space, to rest and to refocus, so you have more energy and clarity to deal with the issue.

3.   Figure out what motivates you

When you’re weighed down by work, it’s easy to lose sight of what once excited and motivated you. Figuring out what drives you can return your sense of purpose and get the ball rolling again: without objectives or direction you’re just stagnating, lumbering purposelessly through work for the sake of that monthly paycheck. You end up living for the weekends and wishing your life away – it’s far from ideal.

Think about what motivates you, and consider what your purpose might be; what would you like to do, if money wasn’t an issue? When do you feel most energized and enthusiastic? Are you driven by money and responsibility, or do you want to do something you personally find meaningful? Once you know what drives you, you can then set goals and begin moving forwards.

4.   Stay positive

Admittedly, when you’re demotivated at work, remaining upbeat can be hard, but it’s important to focus on what’s going well. Negativity can be cyclical, and if you’re looking for reasons why you’re unhappy, you start looking at things through a lens of pessimism. Don’t allow yourself to get mired down in negativity; the more we indulge negative thoughts, the deeper we sink into our work slump, and the harder it is to pull ourselves out of it.

Take a minute each day to think about what you appreciate. Rather than spending time stewing over something that went wrong at work, or worrying about something that may never happen, reflect on the elements of your work that you’re grateful for. Thinking about the bigger picture and recalling the reasons you took the job in the first place will help substantiate what you're doing.

5.   Set goals and try something new

Since people often fall into a work slump through complacency and boredom, shifting your focus to something new can help you shake off that feeling of immobility. By “something new” we don’t mean jumping ship and starting a brand-new job (although for some people, this might be the right step!). We mean doing something outside of your normal working routine.

If you’ve been doing the same tasks for too long and are all out of inspiration, communicate this. Speak to your manager and tell them you want to try something new: this could be learning a new skill, or working alongside another team on a different project. Setting yourself fresh goals and challenges can do more than reignite focus and motivation; it can help you discover new skills, allowing you to make smarter, more purposeful decisions about your career.

Working somewhere different is a great way to refocus – and here are the best places to do it!

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