How to pull yourself out of a work rut

To climb out of a work rut, you have to identify the good and bad aspects of your job.

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 10:43 AM

(CNN) -- Feel like you're dragging yourself to work every day only to count down the minutes until it's time to go home? You could be stuck in work rut.

"People sometimes are in a rut and don't always realize it," said Kim Monaghan, a career coach. "They feel something is broken and they feel unhappy."

Signs include boredom, lack of motivation and inspiration, feeling like you aren't adding value to the company, and not executing tasks to the best of your capabilities.

But feeling stuck at work doesn't necessarily mean it's time to find a new job.

Identify what is and isn't working

To climb out of a work rut, you have to identify the good and bad aspects of your job.

Once you know the responsibilities that you enjoy and do well, see if you can delegate some of the other duties that might be dragging you down.

"Figure out how to tweak the situation to get some momentum," said Katy Hansell, a career and leadership coach.

Workers not in a management position can meet with their manager for an "an exploratory conversation" to talk about their responsibilities and strengths.

"The employee enters into this conversation with a curious, teaming objective and may have formulated some ideas about what aspects of their job they would like to carve out and assign to a peer," Hansell said. "If it is presented as an opportunity for the employee to devote more of their time and energy into the aspect of their job that they excel at, it becomes a win/win scenario for their boss."

Beef up your credentials

If you aren't feeling challenged at work, look for ways to expand your toolkit.

Identify new skills that can help improve your work productivity and the value you bring to the company and ask your manager for training and professional development.

"I can't tell you how many people have been doing what they are doing for years. You can make yourself obsolete," said Jennifer Randolph, senior vice president of talent at Zenith USA. "It's important year over year to add something to your repertoire."

Raise your hand

Not being challenged or feeling like part of the team can be a real drain on productivity and motivation.

Step up and raise your hand to work on new projects or stretch yourself to play a bigger role.

"Sometimes people don't give us new work because we haven't been as forthcoming and they don't think of us as available or interested so they start to marginalize us and don't reach out to us when more interesting opportunities emerge," said Roy Cohen, author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide: Success Secrets of a Career Coach."

If you prefer more solo work, identify a challenge the company is facing and work to solve it.

"When people get recognized and rewarded at work, they get a lot more excited and feel much better about their jobs," said Cohen.

Ask for feedback

Lack of feedback on your work performance can leave you feeling stuck and uninspired.

Schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your performance to find out what's going well and areas of improvement or opportunity.

"You will be far more excited about your job when you are getting positive feedback," said Cohen.

If your boss isn't great about regular feedback or being available for discussions, look for a mentor.

"You don't have to go it alone," said Randolph. Work ruts are common, and it can help to find a trusted adviser to get some feedback and career growth tips.

If you think your rut is more of a sign that it's time to change jobs or careers, set up some informational meetings to get a better sense of different opportunities.

Set goals

If you feel like you're just treading water at work, it's time to dive in.

Create a list of goals and set deadlines.

The goals should vary in size, and be measurable to help hold yourself accountable.

They can be as simple as having lunch with a former colleague, meeting new colleagues in different departments or spending 30 minutes journaling to help map out your future.

Small tweaks can give a big boost

Even small upgrades can have an uplifting effect on your work life.

Try re-arranging office furniture, organizing your desk or getting a new work outfit.

"That has a little bit of an emotional high and you feel better that something has changed and is fresh," said Monaghan.

When was your last getaway?

Sometimes, a change of scenery can help push you out of a rut.

Going on vacation can help break the daily routine and leave you feeling refreshed.

But here's the key: You actually have to take a break. No emails and no dialing into conference calls.

"It's not a real vacation or time away if you are still working but at a different location. That doesn't help. It has to be a real disconnect," said Cohen.

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