Career

5 Ways To Get Out Of A Rut At Work

Regardless of how much you enjoy your job, we all have bad days. When it feels like you’re on the receiving end of negativity from all directions, it’s hard to keep focus on why you’re even there in the first place. You might even find yourself stuck in a rut where you start to doubt your work and find it hard to see the big picture.

The reassuring thing is usually the reason you find yourself in this headspace is not because you’re not good at your job. It could be a result of many reasons – from your superiors having a tough time, to your colleagues also feeling “stuck” to some extent.

When we’re feeling positive about ourselves we’re happier and more productive, both at work and outside of work. If you find yourself feeling negative, try these five tips will help you get out of a rut at work.

1. Put yourself in their shoes

When you’re having a bad day do you wish people would give you some leniency? If you feel like someone is coming down on you particularly hard, take a step back and think about what they might be struggling with themselves. To help make this more real for you, write down what it is you think is triggering them to behave the way they are behaving. It helps you to see clarity and could even lead to you thinking of a new approach when dealing with them.

You may never know whether they’re being bothered by something inside or outside of work, but giving other people this leeway – and not assuming it’s all about you – is a great way to move on.

2. Thicken your skin

One key thing I was told when I started work was to develop “thick skin”. Over the years I have come to understand this means not taking things personally. If I get upset over negative feedback for work I have completed, I try to remove myself and remember they are not attacking me personally but helping to point out flaws in my work. While it can be hard to hear, especially if not delivered well, feedback (even, or especially, the negative kind) ultimately leads me to being better at my job.

3. Shake it off

Fresh air, a snack, a quick lap around the office, or even a time out in the loo is all it takes to clear your head sometimes. If you feel like you have bad energy at your desk, walk away and get a new perspective. Maybe there’s a communal workspace you can go to for a while, or book a meeting room to get away from the office. Even go out to get a coffee. Just take some time to yourself to collect your thoughts so you’re fresh when you get back to work.

4. Remember your accomplishments

For all the things you think you’ve done wrong, remember that there would many accomplishments for you to be proud of. Celebrate your small wins by writing down five things you have accomplished in the week, whether it is getting up for the gym every day or selling in a great idea to your boss. You’ll start to appreciate yourself again and see that despite some negative feedback you really do have things to be proud of.

Every piece of negative feedback is an opportunity to improve for the future.

Also remember that negative feedback is not the end of the world. Nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes – it’s up to you to learn from them and prevent them from happening again. Every piece of negative feedback is an opportunity to improve for the future.

5. Set positive boundaries with people around you

While it is important to have people to talk with, it is just as important to set boundaries with these same colleagues. If you are trying to beat your workplace blues and you feel like they are coming to complain, start the conversation letting them know it has been a tough week and that you really need to stay positive. If they respect you, they will appreciate you are being upfront and trying to get out of your negative space (if the shoe were on the other foot, would you prefer your colleague to be upfront about it, or continue being a negative Nellie?).

If your rut is a little more long-term, and you’re struggling to enjoy your job at all, consider these tips for falling back in love with your job. Get back on the up!


Emma Davey is a passionate story teller who spends her time challenging her understanding of the world and sharing her experiences of living overseas on her blog Another Aussie Abroad.