Climbing The Ladder

19 Smart Things To Do When You’re In A Career Slump

By | Friday, February 19, 2016


1. Start a workout program you can actually stick to. Something I’ve been doing lately is running a mile every day. I only need to commit to eight to 10 minutes of exercise a day, but it forces me to get outside and be active.

2. Make your work beverages more exciting. I’m not going to try to sell you on drinking tea instead of coffee if you don’t want to, but spruce up your warm beverages with these TFD tips.

3. Ask your boss if you can be looped in on a project that you’re interested in, but not quite qualified to manage on your own. The fact that you’re doing something every day that is furthering your career and getting you involved in something you wouldn’t normally touch can make you much more excited to go into the office.

4. Start a book club. I’ve found that making specific, recurring plans on a weeknight can really add to my work week. Not only does involving other people keep you accountable for reading the chapters, but it gives you something to look forward to every week.

5. Whether you’re reading in a group or on your own, focus on books that are career-oriented. Choosing books with a positive message — work success stories, etc. — like #GIRLBOSS, Yes Please, or Bossypants can help you LOL through your work week. (I’m not being trite here; Tina Fey really did help me get through my first full-time job.)

6. Find a passion project or learn new skills outside of work. Often you sink into a career slump when your life is becoming increasingly about work, and you have Professional Tunnel Vision that is blocking out the rest of your life. Go home after work one day, and think about what you’ve been wanting to do outside of work lately. It doesn’t have to be a huge production — you don’t have to enroll in a pottery studio or become a yogi who practices five times a week. It can be as simple as buying a coloring book.

7. Think about why you’re experiencing a career slump. As Chelsea discussed on TFD this week, even people with jobs they love (myself included) have very difficult weeks that leave them feeling uninspired. We all have weeks where it feels like our wheels are spinning, and we’re working hard, yet not getting any work done. This does not necessarily mean you’re unhappy with your job. However, there are crucial signs you’re on the wrong career path, which are also worth considering if you’re not feeling any motivation while at work.

8. Choose an activity that you can indulge in during your office lunch break. Whether you treat yourself to an episode of your favorite podcast, bring a book in, or escape somewhere for a quick episode of Netflix (as I’ve done when working at an office), make sure you’re doing something that you can fully immerse yourself in. You can even bring games to lunch and form a potluck/games group at work.

9. Bring your laptop to work and work in a part of your office that isn’t your dismal-looking cubicle. When I worked at a cube, I found it very confining, especially because there were beautiful parts of my office to work in that other people took advantage of. As an entry-level employee, I wasn’t issued a laptop, so I started bringing in my personal laptop (which, of course, isn’t the right choice for everyone ) about once a week so I could work in a more fun, well-lit area occasionally.

10. Ask HR if there is any sort of volunteer program associated with your workplace. If not, a lot of companies will encourage employees to start some sort of good-will initiative, partially because it’s great for morale, and partially because it looks good for the company. You could either join an existing program, or be one of the people who starts connecting your office with volunteer work.

11. DIY the shit out of your workspace. Take one night this coming week and make an inspiration board, or even come up with a theme for your workspace. You could go with a 50s-themed (or Mad Men-themed) workspace and print out adorable photos, place each photo on a nice border, and decorate the perimeter of your desk with your crafts.

12. Schedule a playdate with your friend’s dog. Just trust me on this one.

13. If you’re feeling burned out, be honest with yourself about it instead of running away from it. Even if it’s difficult to face when you want to keep pushing yourself to work harder, talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

14. Do a social media fast. Sometimes being in a slump comes from the fact that you’re frustrated with your lack of productivity. For me, I often sign on to Facebook to do something work-related, and then I waste five minutes clicking on things that appear on my timeline. It drives me insane that I’m so addicted to social media. About once a week, I’ll kick myself off Instagram for the day, and it’s really liberating and great for productivity.

15. Make food you’re excited about for breakfast. Perhaps it’s optimistic to think that waffles or french toast can start your work day on the right foot, but I’m an optimist when it comes to breakfast food’s effect on the world. I love taking the time (even if it means getting up early) to make eggs and toast in the morning. I recently invested in powdered sugar, and I’ve been a french toast-making machine since. It really only takes four more minutes than it takes to make a breakfast sandwich, cleanup time included.

16. When you’re sick of thinking about your career, read about career lessons other people learned the hard way.

17. Try an exercise where you really take the time to figure out why you’re in a career slump. Every day for seven days, write in a journal for six minutes before you go to bed. Spend three of those minutes writing about the high points of your day, and the other three minutes writing about the low points. At the end of seven days, read all your entries and see if you can trace a pattern. What do you constantly complain about? Is it even work-related? Once you are able to identify a problem, it might be easier to take steps toward fixing it.

18. Find one person in your office whose career you really aspire to. Even if you don’t necessarily want to pursue their career, pick someone whose work ethic you admire, or whose areas of interest semi-align with yours. Ask them if they’d like to do lunch sometime.

19. Focus your efforts on getting a good night’s sleep every single night for a week straight. Sure, maybe this is simplistic, but whenever I notice I’m “off,” or in a bit of a career-or-otherwise slump, it takes me far too long to realize that lack of sleep is nearly always a contributing factor. When you’re in a career slump, getting a lot of sleep seems counterintuitive because you sometimes want to push yourself to put extra hours into figuring out what the problem is. Instead, try to tackle your rut by getting a full eight hours of sleep.

Image via Unsplash

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