Repetition and routine can be great professional stabilizers, creating a strong foundation for a well-balanced career. But sometimes, following the same routine day in and day out can leave you feeling, well, bored.
So my advice to you is to beat the boredom before it happens! It never hurts to be proactive and incorporate some variety into your day. Here's how ...
Change your schedule
Having a regular routine can be super helpful when it comes to organization and meeting deadlines, but even a simple switch to your schedule can provide an added boost of motivation and creativity.
- Start at home. Rearranging the way you start your morning can make a tremendous impact on the rest of your day. You may find that a simple switch in your usual order of activities—such as working out early and then sitting down for breakfast instead of hurrying through your workout and grabbing breakfast on the go—can reduce stress. If you make time for a cup of coffee before you leave the house each morning, consider leaving earlier once a week and treating yourself to a cup of coffee at a cafe near your home or office. A change of scenery and a bit of time to really enjoy that caffeine can be the perfect beginning to a productive day.
- Rearrange the order of tasks throughout the day. Next, try changing the order of simple, daily tasks—checking email, project management, calendar review—to mix things up a bit. While email may be a pressing task, consider simply waiting until mid-morning to check your inbox rather than tackling it first thing. While you may not notice it, there may be certain times of the day where your attention span is primed for certain types of tasks.
- Change your working hours. If your job offers the flexibility, consider changing your actual working hours. This could be as simple as starting your day at the office one hour earlier or later, or working one half of one day from home each week. By embracing and adding a dash of variety to your work schedule, you’ll be able to refresh your daily routine in subtle but helpful ways.
Create a pet project
Off-the-clock side projects can be a wonderful creative outlet, but you could also put that energy and passion into your current job. This is an excellent way to challenge yourself and help you feel more committed to your work and your organization.
If you’re open to a pet project at work, a great way to begin is by reflecting on the existing needs of your team. That could mean referencing departmental goals for the year or taking a look at your organization’s three- or five-year plan. The key here is to find a small, measurable, and manageable goal that is not yet being addressed by colleagues.
Another great alternative source of inspiration can be found in addressing a need across departments. If you work in HR and there has been interest in and discussion around implementing social media in your organization’s recruiting strategy, take the reins by volunteering to conduct your own research around best practices and create a handbook of sorts. This could also be a great opportunity to work with your marketing colleagues and add leadership or project management experience to your resume.
Before you take on a project like this, make sure you’ve presented your case to your manager, including how you’ll manage your existing responsibilities on top of this side project, as well as why it will be beneficial to the department and your own development. It’s important to be respectful of colleagues and supervisors and to ensure that you’re working toward a goal rather than overstepping in any way.
Set a new goal related to work-life balance
If you want to place more emphasis on self-care and general wellness, make time to do something that you love—something that gets you into a “flow” headspace.
- Make time for exercise: Incorporate a class or workout after work for some stress relief. Or maybe a morning class will enable you to wake up earlier and have more free time at the end of the day.
- Decompress: Build in reading time or start a meditation practice to help you unwind after work.
- Engage your imagination: Pick up a new craft project on your own or ask a friend to join you or attend an arts club or class together. This may help you build the habit of leaving work on time and embrace your creative side in a new and refreshing way.
You could also nurture a work-related learning interest in a subject that is either directly or indirectly related to your role. Sign yourself up for an in-person or self-guided course through a local university or learning center, or via online learning resources like Coursera, Udemy, Lynda.com, or Bloc, and make time in your schedule—or find the time you need—to stay on track with this goal.
Even slight changes to your schedule can create room to find a creative spark, help you to prioritize time for personal growth, and also encourage you to keep your eye on professional development. The key is to be proactive and take care to refresh your routine every once in a while so that you can continue to feel engaged and never bored.
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About the Author | Yoona Wagener is a freelance writer and WordPress developer who believes in the value of nonlinear career paths. She has experience in academic publishing, teaching English abroad, serving up customer support to software end users, writing online help documentation, and mission-driven nonprofit marketing and communications.