Can we all just agree that the months of January and February are a total bummer? This winter was particularly numbing; with its frigid wind and temperatures, giant mounds of filthy snow and general malaise. As March rolled around, I was keenly aware that I was exhibiting all of the behaviors consistent with a deep winter rut. I found myself taking much longer to get out of bed than normal, making excuses in order to dodge social events and eating more potato chips and ice cream than I care to admit.
I think we’re all creative beings in our own way. Sales professionals are constantly thinking of innovative ways to package and promote their products or new ideas to attract clients. HR representatives are creating new employee engagement programs or streamlining payroll processes. Operations Managers are finding creative ways to solve problems and improve efficiency in their companies.
We’re all employing our creative brains to be successful and accomplish our goals. So, what happens when the winter doldrums start to spill over in to your work life? You feel low energy, unfocused and uninspired and you know that it’s not serving you at the office.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and, with the help of my colleagues at Intero, I was able to put the potato chips down and give my work a much needed creative boost.
How? Let’s explore a few strategies that I’ve implemented that might work for you too:
Rearrange Your Work Space
This one might be my favorite. Think about a time when you repositioned your bed or changed the orientation of your couch and your television. It felt good, right? It’s an exercise that injects energy and new possibilities in to a physical space.
Mix things up. Move stuff around. Please trust me on this one.
If you sit in a cubicle or at a desk that’s bolted to the wall, you might be thinking that you can’t participate in this one. But there are options! Stand up and take a look at your space. Do you have pictures that are years old? Swap them out for recent ones. Where is your computer situated? Move it to the other side of your desk. Are your rubber bands, paper clips and thumb tacks tangled in to a ball in your desk drawer? You know, to the point where you don’t want to even reach in to the drawer for fear that you’ll get a thumb tack in the side of your hand? This isn’t good, folks. Pick up a $5 desk organizer at the store and get yourself organized!
At Intero, we all decided to swap desks. It allowed us to reposition and reorganize in a new space; a new perspective, quite literally.
Change Your Title
This one might be more challenging for those that work in a larger company. But, when was the last time you really thought about your title? Has your role evolved at all since you were given that title? Does your title still accurately represent what you do? If the answer is “no” then it might be time to look into your options for choosing a new title.
For the last year, I have been the People and Process Strategist at Intero Advisory. It made sense internally because I manage the needs of our business related to people (recruiting) and processes (infrastructure), but it didn’t resonate with people outside of the organization. So, it was time for a change! I spent some time thinking about my responsibilities and talking to my team about where I contribute most. These conversations not only helped to identify a new title, but to jump-start new ideas, new ways of doing things, new areas that I need to be innovating. Somewhere in there, we realized that the best title to describe my role as a recruiter and an employee advocate was Talent Finder. It has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?
I suggest setting aside 15 minutes one afternoon to read through your job description. Mark it up and include any changes that make sense. If you discover that your current title might need some modification, schedule some time with your manager to discuss what your options are. You might even inspire a company-wide movement.
And if it’s a more interesting or creative title you’re looking for, here are some ideas!
Join a LinkedIn Group
What better way to get your head back in the game than networking with professionals in your field? Networking conversations, meeting a new rock star in your industry or talking through a challenge with a peer can all be great ways to inspire new ideas. But we all know how difficult it is at the end of the day to make it to that networking event across town.
LinkedIn Groups can be so helpful here. Over 1.5 million Groups have been created on LinkedIn. These Groups range in purpose from generating job leads, to sharing learning resources to networking virtually. What a great forum for connecting with people in your industry!
For best practices on how to utilize and participate in Groups, here is some additional reading:
Discover a Renewing Activity
Sometimes, when we’re feeling unfocused or “behind” at work, our tendency is to double down and push ourselves harder. In many ways, this is counterintuitive. And the quality of your work may suffer if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to gain some perspective.
Take a regular pulse check. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your brain is full of jumbled-up information, it is probably time to take a breather. It’s about working smarter, not harder.
I’ve spent some time recently incorporating a few renewing activities in to my weekly routine. These activities help to clear my head when needed and allow me to formulate new ideas. As a result, I feel more focused and effective, and less like I’m spinning my wheels with nothing to show for it.
Here are a few ideas of how to step away and refocus:
- Leave the office for lunch – Do you eat in front of your computer every day? You probably feel like you’re doing a good thing by allowing yourself more time to work, right? Wrong.
Getting some fresh air in the middle of the day can produce some very desirable mid-day results. Step outside, enjoy lunch with a coworker or just take a walk around the building. When you return to your office, you’ll be more focused and ready to tackle your next task.
- Listen to a podcast – Does your brain need a 15-30 minute break? A brief distraction might be just the thing! There are so many podcasts to choose from nowadays; professional development, entertainment, educational, lifestyle tips. It’s all out there.
What stimulation does your brain crave? Take a look at this list, from Entertainment Weekly, for some interesting podcast options to explore.
- Gratitude – A lot has been written on this topic. And you may be more than a little skeptical. I certainly was. But after following a gratitude practice for several weeks, I assure you that it’s a pretty straightforward way of giving yourself a boost.
There has even been some recent research that links keeping a gratitude journal with increased productivity!
Don’t feel like a keeping a journal? No problem. I spend my morning commute thinking about and naming the things that I am grateful for. By the time I arrive at the office, I feel happy, creative and…yes…productive!
There are so many ways to renew and refresh during the work day. What other ideas can you add to the list?
Spring is upon us. It’s a great time to develop a new outlook. Whether you’re rearranging your work space, changing your title, joining a new LinkedIn Group or discovering a renewing activity, taking the time to implement one or more of these strategies will almost certainly result in a creative boost. Go find that creative spark you’ve been missing!