Ask LH: How Can I Overcome A Work Slump?

Dear Lifehacker, I've been feeling discouraged at my job lately. My work isn't as good as it used to be, my boss is on my case, and I just can't seem to get excited about anything I'm doing. I love my job and want to stick with it. Have any suggestions for how I can get my energy and inspiration back to where it used to be? Sincerely, Waning Work Ethic

Photo by Catalin Petolea (Shutterstock).

Dear Waning,

We've all been there. It can be pretty frustrating when you lose excitement about what you're doing. For a lot of people, it's just because they're at the wrong job. We've talked a lot about knowing when to quit your job and how to apply for new jobs, but if you're just in a temporary slump at a job you like, the solution isn't quite as clear. Here are some things you can do to feel like your old self again.

Find Out What's Causing Your Slump

The first step is finding out what got you into this slump in the first place -- it may have a simpler solution than you think. Perhaps it's something going on in your personal life that's leaving you drained, or maybe you just aren't eating right and not exercising. If it's something like that, you can attack the problem head on. If you're having trouble figuring it out, we've put together a tool that can help you chart out your days and discover what things might be affecting your mood and your work performance.

Try Working on Something New

A lot of times you may have just fallen too much into a routine and become complacent. One of the best things you can do is just shift your focus at work -- getting out of that routine, even just a little bit, can wake you up out of a slump and get you back to performing at your best.

If you've been working on the same kinds of projects for what seems like eternity, you've probably just gotten a little bored and dried up on inspiration. If your boss will let you, see if you can take on a different kind of project, one that doesn't necessarily fit your specialty but is still something you can handle. Alternatively, try taking on a new responsibility in addition to your current workload. Maybe it's taking on part of someone else's job that they can't handle or just learning a new skill that's relevant to your job. If your slump is a bit more extreme, you might even see if you can move to a different department at the same company. A lot of companies are looking for internal applicants anyway, so it should be pretty easy to move away from your current position without starting from square one. Photo by Geoff Parsons.

Get a Work Buddy (and Start Taking Notes)

We've often recommended getting a workout buddy to keep yourself motivated at the gym, and work is no different. Especially if you feel like you're getting a lot of flak from others about your performance, it can help to have someone tell you you're awesome and keep you feeling good (plus it helps to have someone to commiserate with on the bad stuff -- half your office friends are probably going through the exact same stuff you are).

That said, you should still keep an open mind to criticism, whether it's from your boss or whether you solicit it from your work buddy. If you come out of a meeting or a project and feel like it wasn't up to par, tell them you feel like it could have gone better and ask them what they think. They'll probably have a good suggestion or two. Take notes whenever you get criticism, and you'll have a much more tangible list of things to work on the next time you sit down for a project. Those notes can keep you from getting complacent and back to making constant improvements. Photo by Teaaching and Learning with Technology.

Cheers Lifehacker

PS Obviously, there's no one solution to everyone's slump, so if you've ever gone through something like this before, share your experiences with us in the comments.

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