You’re doing your work. You’re involved in a project. You want to keep going… you need to keep going… you must keep going… but you’re TIRED OF IT!
What do you do now?
In my last post I suggested taking the time and space to think things through. I suggested asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now the right thing for me? Am I doing it the right way?”
Which answer did you hear?
Answer #1. “Stop doing the work because it is no longer good for you.”
Answer #2. “The work is good! Keep going and do things a different way.”
Answer #3. “This work is important and you need to do it! Keep going and don’t stop even if you are tired.”
Answer #4. “Wow, am I confused! I’m unclear about whether to keep going forward or change direction.”
Let’s take a look at each of those scenarios, because each one requires a different strategy.
Scenario #1. Stop doing the work.
Just for you, I have a series of posts about this! Check out my three-part series “When things aren’t working at work.”
Scenario #2. Keep going but do things a different way.
This scenario requires two strategies.
First and most important: Take good care of yourself while you’re still working. This means getting good sleep, taking breaks from work, and getting physical exercise. Start with a few little changes. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Take a walk during the workday. Stop eating lunch at your desk. Or start your day with five minutes of stretching.
Second: Reflect on the ways that you could do your work differently. Create space to reflect with trusted friends and coworkers. Ask yourself and your colleagues, “What if there was another way to do this work? What could we change?” Get curious and creative. Problem-solve with your team. Make a new plan and get help implementing it. Notice what works.
Scenario #3. This is the work that must be done and you know you must keep going.
This scenario requires a few additional strategies.
Just as in Scenario #2, practice self-care techniques while you’re still working. Get some sleep. Taking breaks. Move your body. (I’ll share a lot more about this in my next post.)
Then, do the work. Really tell yourself you can keep doing it. And do it.
Next, put a time limit on how long you will keep working with your head down before you check in and think about how it’s going. It is helpful to set up a check-in with someone. Tell a friend, a coach or a trusted co-worker, “I am working really hard on this. But in two weeks, if it’s just as hard and I’m not making progress, I’d like to check in with you and reflect on a different way to do the work.”
And most important, rally the troops. Get support doing the work. Ask co-workers and colleagues for more help. Delegate! And get connected with loved ones outside the work. They can provide a sounding board and an escape valve.
Scenario #4. You are confused about whether you should keep working or quit.
For now, do not stop doing the work. BUT slow down. Put in a little less effort and time. Make some breathing room. Back off the throttle as much as you can without losing momentum.
As in all the other scenarios, practice techniques that allow you to take good care of yourself while still working: get good sleep, take breaks, and move your body.
Then build in more time for reflection. Find time to get quiet. Take a walk to get coffee during the workday. Take a moment in the driveway before you go into the house. Gently ask yourself, “Do I want to keep doing this the same way?” Talk with only a few trusted confidantes about your struggle to understand whether you can “keep going.”
And be gentle. Give yourself time to figure out the direction you want to go. A new direction may come to you in a flash or it may dawn as slow awareness. Or you may just finish the work you are struggling with. And when you’re finished, your reflection time could lead you in a new direction.
Are you still craving a more techniques for revitalizing the work you are tired of? Stay tuned for a checklist that can help you keep going when exhaustion and frustration set in.