7 Secrets for Breaking Out of a Work Rut
Whether you’re a new mama getting back into your professional groove, struggling to find work-life balance or plain old bored or unhappy at work, job ruts are THE WORST. Even Albert Einstein felt the pain, famously defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yikes! Instead of falling into the trap, call on your creativity to find fresh perspective and new ideas. Not sure where to start? We recently chatted with Heather Willems and Nora Herting, the awe-inspiring artists and founders behind ImageThink. Total pros when it comes to innovation, their tips will help you fall back in love with your work, whether you’re jamming with your team or flying solo. Read on for their seven secrets.
1. Change small things. Heather and Nora tell us that having a serious mental block can feel like hitting a brick wall, and that it’s perfectly normal to feel completely discouraged when it happens. How to fix it? They say, “A lot of tiny cracks can break down that wall. Think: What are little things that you can change in your daily routine to cause cracks?” Maybe it’s as simple as arriving to work half an hour early or taking a different route. Do you handle info differently when you write with a brightly colored pen versus typing? See if moving things around on your desk can help you view problems differently.
2. Adjust your workspace. Switch it up, girl! Heather and Nora love to switch their setup for fresh ideas. “Grab your laptop and stand at the office kitchen counter or head to the nearby coffee shop,” they suggest. Change your surroundings and new ideas and inspiration will follow.
3. Sketch your notes. “If you’re used to typing your notes, shift your mindset by doodling them in a notebook,” Heather and Nora say. “It’s been proven that doodling can activate cross-cognitive brain activity.” This works because your listening skills activate one part of the brain while doodling targets another, for more complex thought processing. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover a better recollection of convos when you share your doodles with others too.
4. Get inspired with movement. “Make space for your thoughts by walking around the block. Bring a colleague and brainstorm an idea face-to-face versus sending an email.” The ImageThink ladies swear that you never know where you’ll stumble upon inspiration when you make time to stop and smell the roses.
5. Catch enough zzz’s. Got 99 problems keeping you up when you need to rest and recharge? Heather and Nora say, “Think about whether or not the issue is something you can solve immediately. If it is, jot down the answer and get back to bed. If it’s not, write down what is troubling you and get back to bed.” Basically, go back to sleep. Whatever it is can wait.
6. Celebrate failures too. You took a risk — YAS girl! Heather and Nora are adamant that you can totally take your work seriously without taking YOURSELF too seriously. Laugh a little! Think about what didn’t work. Celebrate what you learned and focus your energy on what you have the power to change next time.
7. Develop a pro/pro list. It’s normal to face decision-making with waffling back and forth, and it’s pretty likely you’ve tried a pros and cons list to help you come to the right conclusion. Though it’s a tried and true tactic for many people, Heather and Nora tell us there might be a better way to make GREAT choices. “The trouble with the pros and cons approach is that we’re pretty much wired to be risk adverse,” they say. “So, despite the fact that risk might be really unlikely, a long list in the ‘con’ column can scare us off of a decision that actually has some pretty positive upsides.” To get around this, they suggest thinking about the two choices that lay ahead and brainstorming only the positives. “Now,” they ask, “which one looks more appealing?”
Have you been in a serious work rut before? How’d you get your motivation back? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)