Getting Out of a Rut

I’m all too familiar with the inertia that comes when you know you have a ton of work to do, but just can’t bring yourself to do it. And the more work that piles up, the more it intimidates you and the less inclined you are to reduce your workload. It can feel like a demotivating, never-ending cycle that makes you feel demoralised and unproductive, and I just want you to know that you’re not alone in this. Off days happen to everyone, even if it may seem like some people are always on the ball. (Hint: they just know how to recover well enough.) You may struggle to start important projects or procrastinate in finishing up upcoming ones. This is often linked to perfectionism — and being afraid of a result that is less than perfect — which leads to a fear of finishing up a project.

When our energy doesn’t match up to our ambition, there can be high levels of frustration. A lack of speed, efficiency, and productivity makes us feel less than when all it is is a little bump in the road. A single day can feel like an infinitely long uphill battle. It can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and irresponsibility, which then induces high levels of stress and a long-lasting motivational stump.

This can lead to many adverse effects on to your well-being: difficulty in sleeping, getting sick, decrease in your ability to concentrate, emotional exhaustion, higher levels of anxiety, and more pessimism. This can affect both your mental and physical health.

While there’s no hard-and-fast way to get out of your slump, know that there are a few ways you can try out! Ultimately, you know yourself best. Whatever you find the most effective for yourself is the way to get out of your rut.

  1. Build Connections.

    It’s been said that we often feel demoralised at work because we feel emotionally disconnected at the office. We’re social creatures, and yet, close to 70% of office-working adults feel like they have little emotional connection to people at their workplace. However, feeling accepted and useful at work is quite important in ensuring you have the drive to last through your workday.
    Workgroups that have high levels of interpersonal trust and mutual respect are happier and more productive. When a culture of encouragement and confidence is built, rather than one of embarrassment, rejection or punishment, then workers are more driven to accomplish more.
    Try showing up five minutes earlier for meetings and having some light conversation. It’s actually not meaningless at all and goes a long way in opening you up to future friendships and relationships.

  2. Take a Break, For Real.

    I know it’s easier said than done, but take a break from your work completely. Take a day or two off from work and don’t worry about it all. If you feel like you’re getting stressed about your work, distract yourself with exercise, your favourite show, or some family time. Genuinely do things that are fun. Sometimes we feel detached from doing our best because there are no rewards or breaks that await us. So make a reward and break for yourself. Don’t hesitate to take a break when you need to. Your health comes first.

  3. Rely on Habits, not Willpower.

    Instead of relying on sheer will to power through your tasks, try to create habits that ensure your consistency. Break down a big, difficult task into much smaller ones. For example, if you have a huge event to plan, separate it into smaller, manageable tasks that you can actually accomplish. This boosts your confidence in your ability to get the work done. You could also build a habit that transitions into momentum to get you working. For example, checking your email could be the first step of getting started. Alternatively, getting that cup of coffee from your favourite cafe could set you into the mood to sit down and get working. It cues your mind to get into the mood to work.

Remember, it’s common to feel demotivated, and it’s not realistic to expect ourselves to be productive all the time. We all need rejuvenation and getaways from our work, but if you’re feeling exceptionally blasé about your work, then experiment and see what works for you. It can be anything from taking a break, to taking more interest in your workplace.


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