If you’re dreading work in the morning or have found yourself on many occasions staring at the clock to count the minutes before you can just go home, you’re not alone. A full 70% of U.S. employees are not engaged at work. And being bored or complacent at work isn’t just bad for your productivity, it’s also damaging to your overall happiness.
Keep in mind, though, that there’s a difference between being unengaged because you’re in the wrong job or company…and being unengaged because you’re just in a rut.
If it’s more the first (think: bad manager and / or crappy company culture), then your solution is probably to look for a better job. However, if you’re just dealing with bouts of boredom at an otherwise pretty good job situation…then your solution is simply to battle that boredom and find some inspiration.
Don’t waste another moment and instead, resolve to shake things up and take steps to get inspired at work again:
1. Define (or revisit) your values
When looking for a job, we often focus on the “what” of the job description rather than the “how” and “why.” The same goes for when you’ve been in the same routine for a while; you focus on the surface level things and forget about what actually drives and motivates you.
To gain some inspiration, reconnect with your “why” by thinking about your values and whether your current work fulfills them. Workplace values might include making a positive impact in society, being able to work independently, being part of caring great team, or using your creativity. If your current position doesn’t align with your values, or if over time you’ve realized that your values have changed a bit, it’s time to think about new opportunities. Look around your workplace to identify other positions that better match your career values.
2. Learn something new
In many organizations, on-the-job training or on-boarding takes just a few short days or weeks. And when this initial necessary learning period is over, what typically happens is that – unless your company has a defined long-term professional development program in place – you’re left to do your job without much additional opportunity to formally develop new skills. It’s no wonder you’re starting to feel boredom and complacency!
You’re not alone either. Up to 86% of Millennials say better career development opportunities would keep them from leaving their jobs. To combat this type of disengagement, look for opportunities to learn a new skill, especially those that would directly enhance your work-life and desired career path. Want to become more technically proficient? Take a coding class online. Want to pursue more responsibilities and work towards a management role? Find a leadership workshop or training session. Want to become a subject matter expert in a certain area? Join professional industry groups or attend a professional conference.
3. Expand your professional circle
Most of us work with the same small group of people day-in and day-out. Although this can build team camaraderie and cohesion, it can also lead to stagnation and, yes, boredom. Combat this by making an effort to branch out of your usual professional circle.
Simple things you could do are consulting a colleague from a different department about a project you’re working on or introducing yourself to someone new in the break room. You could even take it a step further and join (or start) an interest group either within your company or outside of it, which connects you with other people with similar interests. Any of the above will help you generate new ideas and a sense of new inspiration.
4. Identify the mismatch between your talents and your work
When we’re feeling uninspired at work, it’s usually because our abilities are not being used effectively. Only 1 in 9 employees say their talents are being used to their fullest potential. Unfortunately, many of us wait for our managers to see our unique talents, rather than engaging in a little self-promotion. If this sounds like your situation, it’s time you make a plan and get proactive about it.
Start by making a list of your skills and talents. Then, make a list of the daily tasks you do at work. Identify areas of mismatch and also think of opportunities to fill in the gaps, and bring them to your manager. The point is not to simply tell your manager how unhappy you are but to come with ideas to alter your responsibilities to better draw upon your unique talents. You may not get everything you wish for, but sometimes small tweaks to your daily routine can make a big difference in making you feel appreciated.
5. Take on a challenge.
If your workplace routine has left you feeling stifled and bored, chances are you need to challenge yourself more. Shake things up by saying “yes” to a new opportunity that comes your way, even if it seems daunting or over your head. Giving yourself a chance to “get out of your comfort zone” by taking on a new responsibility is one of the best ways to get inspired again. If your manager doesn’t offer any projects that catch your eye, pitch one of your own!
6. Cultivate better work-life balance
There’s more to life than work, yet many Americans find it difficult to balance their personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, the more pressure you feel to put in long hours at work, the less productive you’ll be. Workers who are satisfied with their work-life balance are 21% more productive than their peers. Instead, take a step back. Figure out ways to boost your productivity at work while remaining committed to a fulfilling personal life. Advocating for flexible work time or work-from-home opportunities can help you recharge and feel inspired again.
This article was originally published on Kununu.