Staying Motivated at Work

Get Back To Work

Nobody likes to admit it, but there are sometimes moments in an office job when you just aren’t motivated. I’m not talking about days on end (because then maybe you should look for a new job), I’m talking about that afternoon lull where you just don’t feel like working or you are in the middle of a project that doesn’t particularly interest you. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible employee or hate your job, it just means you need a little boost to help you feel refreshed, motivated and inspired. Here’s what we came up with or have learned from others to help us get the work churning out again:

  1. Mix it up. If you have more than one project you are working on, try going back and forth between things to keep it fresh and to avoid getting bored filling out that content calendar. But, don’t go too crazy switching around, remember that your output needs some consistency.
  2. Change scenery. Sometimes a change of location is just what you need for inspiration. If your work allows it, try working from the coffee shop down the street, outside, or even the conference room. It might help jolt you out of that “blah” you’re feeling.
  3. Take a break. It probably depends on your office rules and culture, but there’s nothing wrong with getting up to stretch, taking a walk to grab coffee or even distracting yourself for a few minutes with some personal Facebook time, online shopping, or my personal favorite, BuzzFeed.
  4. Chat with a coworker/peer. We’ve all hit the afternoon hum-drum so talk it out with someone! Turn to the person next to you or even open up an IM system and (depending on the work at hand) ask for a bit of help, talk about different strategies, or simply ask about their weekend plans. Sometimes, us communicators need to remember to communicate!
  5. Challenge yourself. Maybe this won’t work for all tasks, but for a lot of things we do on a regular basis, we get used to the status quo. Press releases, social media posts, media pitches, etc. can all become formulaic if you let them. Challenge yourself to try something new, be creative and try to make the best _______ you ever have.

I feel like these apply to writing lit reviews or grading papers, too. Any other tricks we should know about?


Coffee Shop Etiquette

Both as a student and professional, I have spent a lot of time working in coffee shops. Comfy chairs, the smell of espresso and pastries, relaxing music… why do people have offices at all? Oh yeah, because loud or just plain annoying people can destroy your work environment in seconds. Want to avoid being one of the obnoxious ones? Follow these rules:

Do not:

  1. Have your cell phone ringer on, have a long or loud cell phone conversation, or Skype. Ever heard of vibrate people? I understand forgetting you have your ringer on and quickly grabbing your phone, but after the fifth time it rings in a quiet environment, turn that thing off! I also understand that sometimes it is necessary to answer the phone, even when people around you are trying to study or work, but do you really have to yell? Finally, don’t Skype in public. It is always annoying.
  2. Watch videos or play audio without headphones. This seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. I know you are studying with friends and you HAVE to show them the hilarious video of a chihuahua dancing, but PLEASE just send the link so you guys can laugh about it later.
  3. Sing along with the music. No way this actually happens, right? Wrong. This happens more than you would think. People get extremely comfortable at their regular coffee shop and obviously forget they are in public as they sing along with Cat Stevens and other would-be-soothing tunes.
  4. Bring a baby, toddler or small child unless you have had their vocal chords removed and have taught them to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. I hope not to offend all parents with this one because of course not all children are evil and not all parents are oblivious, but many, many are.

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. What is the most annoying thing you have seen in a coffee shop?

What to do When Your Friend Gets YOUR Dream Job

Yup, that just happened. Even if it’s not your EXACT dream job, it seems like it. They just signed on for a full time gig: salary, benefits, cubicle, coffeemaker in the kitchen, all that grown-up job-y stuff.

What do you do? In one way you’re happy for them, “Yeah, they’re my friend… Good for them… The economy must be picking up, I’ll get a job in no time… This means I’ll get better Christmas presents…” (obviously my mind wanders, my train of thought is often exhaustingly annoying). But, on the other hand, that little devil on your shoulder is screaming, “WHY NOT ME!!!!” Often, you have gone through school with these people, attended the same networking events, applied for the same positions, and all you can think is, “Aren’t I just as good?”

Instead of giving you all the obligatory, encouraging “your day will come” statements, I plan on giving you some advice you can actually use. You have to keep in mind that although they have started a bit ahead of you, they are still your peer and you may need to call on their help and connections one day, so you must keep the relationship a good one.

Generally, I have discovered that a hearty congratulations will usually suffice in this situation, but how you look when you hear their exciting news is what it really comes down to. It’s all about how you control your facial expressions.

Acceptable “Happy” Faces:

Masters of What - Happy.jpg

A pained face of happiness is ok, as long as you can hold it.

Masters of What - Actual Happy.jpg

Try for a truly happy face – this is the hardest but most fail-safe method.

Stay Away From These:

Masters of What - Disgust.jpg

Don’t do this face – I mean look at it, it’s hideous.

Masters of What - Eye Roll.jpg

I love a good eye roll as much as the next gal but this will not keep your contacts intact.

Masters of What - Cry.jpg

DON’T CRY! Hold it in, whatever you do, hold it in until you get in your car/home.

If you keep your face plastered in one of the first category expressions, you’ll probably make it out of the situation with most of your dignity intact. Immediately following the interaction you need to calm yourself down and get back to basics, this usually will require either a beer or glass of wine. However, I highly encourage you to politely decline to grab celebratory drinks with this person, lest you embark upon an alcohol-infused evening of explaining to all the patrons of the bar that someday you will make it too.