How to break free from a work funk

Ever experience a listless day where you felt like you couldn’t concentrate or think up any new ideas? Maybe you prepped to get everything done on your to-do list, but discovered that for no particular reason you didn’t feel up to snuff. Speaking of your feelings, how are they doing? Do you find yourself mentally panicked that seemingly nobody else feels this way or kind of over it? 

I’m not a doctor, but it sounds to me like you’re experiencing common symptoms of a funk in the workplace. The good news is that while funk looks and feels different with everyone, it’s a little like having the flu. You might experience it a few times here and there, but for the most part you can kick it to the curb with self-care remedies like getting enough sleep, taking breaks, exercising, and eating right.

However, some funks stick around longer than planned. When this happens, it does more than zap you of your creative juices. The longer a funk lasts, the more it gets in the way of accomplishing your workload and can become a serious issue within your job and overall career goals. If you’re in need of more serious treatment options, here’s my advice on how to snap out of it.

Switch up your typical routine

They say that all work and no play makes Jack/Jill a very dull person — and so does having a strict routine. Imagine that you come into work every day at the exact same time, complete your to-do list in the same order, and do a variety of after work activities like going for a run or errands on specific days of the week. You’ve fallen into a routine with no wiggle room to get out. 

Time to switch up your standards. Do something different first, or out of order every day. Get coffee from a new location, come into work later or arrive earlier, or tackle something tough first thing to help get your brain’s gears grinding. Get dinner — or drinks even — after you leave for the night in the middle of the workweek. 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should do one thing every day that scares you. If you don’t want to go in that deep, at least you can dare yourself to deviate from your norm every day.

Get to know new people

One of the best methods for getting out of a funk is often to talk it out with friends and family. While there’s nothing wrong with doing that, funks are often rooted in the same-old, same-old approach. Here, you largely know how others that know you will react to your stories and the kind of advice to expect from them. Maybe you’re looking for something different.

Find a fresh perspective by growing your awareness of the people in your office or joining exercise classes, like Pilates or barre, where you can find other humans with similar interests. Making friends as an adult is nowhere near as easy as it was when you were a kid in school. It takes time, effort, and a little exploring to discover “your people.” However, if you commit to doing it, you’ll learn a lot in the process about both the people you meet and your sense of self.

Take a strategic approach

You’re shaking up your routine and mingling with new people, but find that doesn’t necessarily translate to more creativity in the workplace. In a weird way, this is actually a good thing to hear. Your primary frustrations are centered in your job so we can isolate the funk (more or less) as being career-related. What can you do to solve the problem?

Employ a strategic approach to your work. You might be worried about deadlines for upcoming major projects while faced with a daily to-do list, meetings, and intern training. Rather than have a meltdown, strategize how you can best utilize your time to work to accomplish everything. Do you need to stress out more about the future than the present? Does every project you work on need to be completed in the exact same method or can you find ways to simplify and make it fun? Think smarter instead of harder.

Being strategic also means asking for help. Don’t be afraid to do it! When you ask for help, you’re getting more than assistance. You’re getting a fresh set of eyes to access your situation and offer some options on how to tackle it.

Challenge yourself, but don’t blame yourself 

“Why me? I’m the ONLY person in the world to go through this! I might as well give up!” 

Your brain probably sounds like this when it’s funking out, but don’t worry. Funks happen to everyone, even if you can’t physically tell, and it’s not targeting you solely.

Look at your funk with a positive perspective — yes, I said positive. Because we’re all human beings, we are naturally prone to having off days. Take your off day and turn it on. Challenge yourself. Set up specific goals and play around with existing ones in your professional life.

While you’re challenging yourself, use this time to reward yourself for past successes. Again, I’m not a certified doctor, but some of the funk might have roots in what is known as “must have more trophies syndrome.” This is where we do well and get rewarded for it, but simply have no time to acknowledge the hard work we did. Instead, we keep pushing for more trophies. The more we push and push, the more prone we become to going beyond the funk and straight burning out. 

Take a moment to jot down some of your past accomplishments, reflect on them, and celebrate all you’ve done so far. Odds are, you’ll feel pretty good once you do — and your mindset will feel ready to breaking free of that funk for good.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

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