Here’s something I’ve learned over the past almost-a-year: Doing the same thing day in and day out at work can get tedious, especially working from home under shelter-in-place orders. After days upon weeks upon months without much variety in the workplace, it can become easy to get stuck in a career rut, which can leave you frustrated and wanting more.
But this can be a perfect time to focus more strongly on your career, priming yourself and your work to hold steady during quarantine and come out ready to perform strongly on the other side. Luckily, even now, there are steps you can take to break free of your daily routine and enhance your career.
Break the Routine
If you’re required to repeat the same list of tasks every day in your current job, it can help to break up the daily routine. Start by simply mixing up the order in which you complete your tasks in a day. And set a reminder once an hour to allow yourself breaks to get up and move around throughout the day.
Take a short walk around your house or neighborhood, drink water, do some stretches, meditate, take deep breaths, even steal a few minutes to check on a friend or family member. Sometimes simply breaking up the day is enough to freshen your perspective and get out of your rut.
Tackle a Project
If you’re looking for a way to break up the monotony of your day-to-day routine, taking on a new project is a great idea.
Immersing yourself in a project offers numerous benefits. You’ll get to do something out of the ordinary and possibly network with new people in your organization. Plus, you’ll have a chance to sharpen your existing skills and maybe even learn something new. Completing a large project is a great feather in your cap and could really make your résumé stand out.
If, on the other hand, your project needs to be carving out a new office space amid the clutter in your home, that’s a worthy project, too — and one that can keep paying off. Start by identifying a little-used space that would work — spare room, reading nook, large closet — and then clear out all the junk that doesn’t look like it belongs in an office. If there’s more than you expected, consider a dumpster: The smallest ones hold 3 pickup truckloads of detritus. Once your new space is clear, you can “move in” and revel in the freedom to think and work unfettered.
Take Control of Your Finances
In a lot of markets, the pandemic has changed everything about the workplace and jobs picture. A lot of people have found themselves at new companies or in new positions they couldn’t have anticipated.
Before moving to another position or industry, it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your personal finances. Understanding where you are positioned financially can help you decide where to head with your career (or whether to stay put for now).
If you aren’t happy with the position you’re in, setting up a budget to track your finances is a great place to start. Take a close look at your credit score, too, and learn how to improve it. Having great credit can save loads of money on interest for loans and mortgages.
Upgrade Your Tech
Working with old technology can be frustrating. Not only that, but it can also hinder your ability to get the job done. Using outdated methods or software can drag you down and eat up valuable time (especially when the Zoom call screeches to a halt while everyone waits for your files to load).
To help you catch up with the demands of the new virtual workplace, try upgrading your tech. You can get the latest software, or think about migrating your data to the cloud. The cloud is a great tool that allows you to access your files and data from anywhere in the world using a secure internet connection.
Widen Your Network
Whether you’re looking to branch out in your current career or forge a new path in a different industry, networking is a great place to start. Not only will you be able to make connections that can help you land the job of your dreams, but you may also be able to network with people who can help you in your current position.
Networking can take place anywhere: at an industry event, a trade show, or even a social mixer. In the current environment, events like this have moved online, thanks to Zoom and other videoconferencing tools. Sites like LinkedIn offer career networking opportunities, as well. Just sign on and start talking to people!
Learn a New Skill
Sometimes simply learning something new is enough to give your mindset the kickstart it needs. That can mean anything from advancing your education by earning a higher degree or job-specific certification to learning an unrelated lay skill that will just make you a more well-rounded person.
You can take a look at industry-specific courses, or perhaps engage in something like CPR or life-safety training. Adding certifications to your résumé can boost your profile with potential employers, and even real-world skills like changing a tire or driving a stick shift vehicle can make you a more valuable and well-rounded person.
Focus on Your Online Presence
Your online presence — social media accounts, LinkedIn profile, websites or blogs, and anything written by or about you — speaks volumes about you. There are so many places on the web that potential employers can access if they want to learn more about your career, or you as a person.
If you’re searching for a new job, take a close look at how you portray yourself online. Scour your social media accounts for appropriate representations of yourself. Updating your LinkedIn account with your latest work and accomplishments is a great way to get noticed by the right people for a potential new job. Plus, platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn may be able to suggest other jobs or industries that might be a good fit.
It’s a given that doing the same thing all day every day at work — especially if it’s within the same four walls where you live — can get boring. And there will be some repetition and tedium in any job. But believing there’s little to look forward to and finding nothing different to do at work can make anyone slide into a career rut.
So the impetus is on you to reinvigorate yourself in your career. Any combination of these suggestions could help pull you out of your rut and get you moving toward your full potential. Breaking up your routine, networking with new people in different industries, updating your online presence, and other smart career moves can put you on the fast track to success.