Work ruts are easy to develop, even in non-quarantine situations. The limitations of working remotely during a pandemic can exacerbate this problem, erasing boundaries between home and work life, and making both feel even more monotonous.
Ruts can take the joy and inspiration out of your job, making it difficult to carry on. Fortunately, there are ways to break out of a rut and restore your creativity, drive and engagement. Here are just a few suggestions:
Create an Inspiring Workspace
If you’re working from home for the long term, it’s not enough to clear out a nook in the corner, put in a desk, and flip open your laptop day after day. A makeshift workspace gets old quickly and provides little inspiration for getting things done.
If clutter is taking up precious space, get rid of it to make room for a proper home office. Donate stuff you don’t need, and put what you want to keep in storage for the time being to create the workspace you need.
Your workspace will be within your home environment, so you’ll have to make an effort not to blur the lines between the two. Try not to let child care or home repairs pull you off the clock when you’re on company time. A home warranty can allay economic fears of expensive repairs, so you can focus on your job more easily.
Upgrade Your Tech Skills
Get out of your rut by learning new tech and office skills that can make you a whiz at your job. Invest in the latest software, hardware and office equipment to challenge your mental abilities and improve your productivity.
Then jump in and tackle the spreadsheet, template, code, deck, system or platform that’s been beyond your reach until now. There’s no shortage of online tutorials, videos, forums and chats available to connect you with the knowledge you seek.
Learning new skills will boost your self-confidence and make you more valuable to your employer. It can give you a chance to grow professionally and personally, expanding your horizons for the future.
Accept New Challenges
If you have the chance, take on projects that challenge your capabilities and pull you out of your comfort zone. Doing the same work year after year in exactly the same way can be tedious, to say the least. Stepping out of your comfort zone will demonstrate (to yourself as much as your employer) that you’re capable of doing more.
Change Your Routine … Often
It’s important to establish a consistent schedule when working remotely, however, don’t be afraid to experiment with different routines to see what works best for you.
Flexibility is one of the biggest perks of working remotely. If you’re bored or discontented with your work schedule, change it around. Get up earlier or later, diversify your breaks or meal times, break old work patterns and create new ones.
Change can be good for you, as long as it doesn’t compromise your workflow or productivity. It’s certainly better than working on autopilot, where the day drags on and you end up with nothing to show for your effort or time except stiff muscles and bleary eyes.
Goals give you something to strive for so you don’t get complacent. When you’re assigned a new project, create a game plan with short- and long-term goals, a time frame for completing these goals, and concrete steps for getting things done.
If you’re working with colleagues on a team project, for example, make sure everyone knows the role they need to play in making it a success. Collaborating with others can be a great incentive to stay on top of your work game because you won’t want to let anyone down.
Build Your Network
Even if you have a solid job, networking with others outside your workplace and industry can have a positive impact on your career. Connecting with professionals outside your circle of influence can broaden your horizons and help you establish long-term friendships that can be informative and helpful in the future.
Clean Up Your Finances
Money problems can be even more stressful when you’re in a pandemic. Putting your finances in order will give you a more positive outlook on life, helping you worry less and think more freely.
Create a budget, cut your expenses, set aside funds for an emergency, build your credit, and live within your means so you’ll have a cushion to fall back on in your time of need.
Commit to Self-Care
Taking care of your mental and physical health is essential during quarantine if you want to keep negative thoughts at bay. A positive attitude will keep you on top of your game, even in a pandemic.
It’s important to eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water (keeping a water bottle nearby can make this easier to remember), exercise daily, and get enough sleep to strengthen your physical health. Self-care will enable you to carry on during difficult times and help others do the same.
Being in a rut can cause you to feel negatively toward yourself and everything around you. You may believe you have no future because you can’t see past the burnout you’re feeling in the present. The good news is that you don’t have to stay in this rut and let life pass you by. You can take control of your situation, be kind to yourself, and turn your career (and life) around.