If someone tells you that they’re constantly motivated and energetic in their role, they probably haven’t been in their job that long or they’ve reached their dream job (which is uncommon, but it does happen). Most of us have moments in our careers where we feel a bit too tied down to our day to day jobs, and before we know it we’ve totally burnt out. Being or feeling drained in your job doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the line for you on this one. You don’t need to immediately think about jumping ship. Get to grips with what’s actually making you feel drained and see how you can fix it first. I’ve got some tips here:
One of the most common causes for being drained at work is due to an insanely long and/or boring commute followed by long hours. The day feels like it’ll never end and you’re constantly traveling or working. It’s not fun. If you’ve got a long commute, the chances of being able to shorten it are low (but if you can shorten it by getting up earlier to get a faster train, try that!) if you can perhaps make your commute more productive, you may feel less drained when you get into work in the morning. I don’t mean answering more work emails on the train, but perhaps try listening to a new podcast (there are some really great podcasts out there, and if you’re not listening through iTunes then check out some of the podcast apps for Android – they’re great) or even an audiobook if you’re not in the mood to read when you’re feeling half asleep. Do you have really long hours? If you can negotiate your core hours with your manager, you should. If you can get the work done in half the time, then staying longer than necessary is only draining your energy.
Maintaining a professional persona when you really don’t feel like it can be mentally draining. It could be things that you can control by facing them head on – for example your colleague’s loud music or the smell of their food. Simply telling them what’s bugging you can eradicate weeks of simmering rage. They most likely don’t even know they’re annoying you. However sometimes it’s not that simple. They could be in a senior management position and you don’t want to rub them up the wrong way (especially if you need a favour later down the line) you just need to maintain your emotions. The solution that immediately comes to mind is to remove yourself physically from the situation unless you have the power to change it. We all have difficult conversations from time to time but once the issue is addressed head on a lot of the time it completely disappears.
Every job has boring aspects to it. We all have to do elements of our jobs that we don’t enjoy, find tedious and unnecessary – but we have to do it. Of course this means you’re in for some draining work which makes you feel unmotivated. Sometimes it’s the order of the task that’s draining, especially if you have to wait on decisions of others before a task can actually be completed. If you take shortcuts, the job will be done quicker and out of your hair but you risk making mistakes and facing further problems. My recommendation is to get these boring tasks out of the way and just do them first thing in the morning. What’s draining too is thinking about having to do them – in that time you’ve spent feeling rubbish about having to do said mundane task you could’ve finished it already!
Maybe it’s a case of just constantly having to do boring tasks? If there aren’t any new challenges in your role you’ll end up feeling fed up at the repetitive nature of your job. We love facing new and difficult situations in our jobs that require us to work them out. It keeps us stimulated and stops the job seeming stale. If you’re lacking new challenges or progression in your role, then you need to speak to your line manager. These things don’t always get sorted until you bring up the issue yourself.
Meetings are the worst. Well, sometimes they’re the worst. Especially if you don’t really need to attend them or they drag on for too long. My personal issue is meetings about meetings – what’s the point?! It’s wasting my time! Some people throw meetings because they hate their jobs. They use a meeting as an excuse to get away from their desk and talk about nothing for two hours – ultimately draining everyone else around them. If you have this problem, assess whether or not you want to be there for the meeting (or maybe just the first half) and see what in particular you need to get out of it. Get what you need and get out. If you can’t do this, ask for a meeting agenda so you can ensure the meeting stays on track and doesn’t veer off into cat video territory. Sometimes having a specific person at a meeting can change the whole dynamic of it. Invite someone from the management team if this will help keep the meeting on focus.
When you’re hungry at work, it’s all you can ever think about. We’re all guilty of having rumbling stomachs just before lunch. The obvious solution to this one is to have some snacks with you such as fruit, crackers or nuts and seeds. If you have a job where you can’t graze on food, try drinking loads of water. Sometimes your body thinks it’s hungry when actually it’s dehydrated or simply bored. Distract yourself with a new work task that needs doing and you may well forget your hunger. Try taking a quick walk away from your environment too. If you’re staring at your computer screen and can think of nothing but food, give yourself a five minute screen break. Not only does it help your eyes, but you get distracted too.
Your actual job
If you’re still drained at work, maybe you need to take a few days off. Annual leave isn’t just for running errands or going abroad. It’s perfectly fine to take a Friday and a Monday off and just chill out at home. Catching up on some sleep and having nothing to worry about with work can do wonders for a drained employee.
Have you tried taking a walk on your lunch break? Even if you work in a fairly unattractive area, you can still plug in your headphones and go for a fifteen minute wander. It gives you a break from everything within your work environment that could be draining your energy, and it’ll boost your endorphins, giving you more energy.
Another solution is to assess the negative parts of your job. Are you focusing on these elements too much? Read into why you took the job in the first place and what you’ve achieved since working there. Are there still aspects of your job that you enjoy? Try focusing on these a little bit more and see if you can delegate the more negative parts of your job elsewhere. What you loathe doing, someone else might actually enjoy!
However this could just be a short term fix. If you’re still always feeling un-energised and unmotivated in your job then it could be time to look for something new. There’s nothing wrong with knowing that you’ve got everything you possibly could out of a job before moving on. Have a look at what you want in a new job too, so you can avoid having the same issues in your new role.