Even if you love your job, that doesn’t make you immune to the occasional work slump. Sometimes these slumps are predictable. You’re more likely to experience a lack of motivation after finishing a big project or after hitting a major deadline. Your brain is mentally fatigued and needs new stimulation to recharge.
But sometimes these slumps present themselves at inopportune times. Work and clients aren’t going to slow down just because you need a break. And if you work for yourself, “mental health days” can be hard to swing—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative ways to recharge and repair your energy.
7 Ways to kickstart your motivation when you’re in a slump:
🤓 Go somewhere stimulating to gain perspective
I’m a big fan of the RISD Museum (the fancy-pants art school). There’s always a new installation I haven’t seen and the café is delightful. I’ll bring my laptop along *just* in case inspiration strikes. But sometimes it’s the walk home that clears my senses and gets me ready to write.
👩🏽💻 Join or host a silent co-working session
I recently added silent co-working into the Copywriting Cohort Course + Mastermind and it was MEGA successful. Every week we’d hop on Zoom (cameras optional) and work in silence, with a few breaks for questions. This cohort handed in more copy docs for me to edit than ever before. We all showed up and committed to work for one hour, and pretty much everyone found their flow and kept writing well after signing off. Find a business friend and try it out!
🎨 Switch gears
If I’m struggling to write, I’ll close out Google Docs and whip open Canva, and put on a podcast. Designing a workbook or social post uses a different part of my brain which I like to think allows my writing brain to take a little nap. If I’m in a deep slump, I’ll grab my watercolors or work on the family photo album I’m three years behind on. The point is to keep your brain engaged but use it differently.
::ducks from flying tomatoes:: Don’t @ me, I know this isn’t applicable to 99% of situations, but when I’m battling the big B (burnout) I know unplugging from my business for an extended period is the cure-all. I do have family abroad, and my husband is in a very unconventional profession, so every year we save up so we can take a 2-4 week holiday in August. #Relateable, but being able to take a summer sabbatical was a big reason I started my business (also see: babies, mental health, growth opportunities, control…) so you bet your tush I’m seizing the opportunity for as long as we have it.
💼 👙Book a workcation
My friend Carole Ann calls these her “retreats”. Book an Airbnb for a night or two and treat yourself to your favorite takeaway while you focus on planning out that course you’ve been dreaming about, or mapping out your goals. The point is to get away from the to-do list and distractions so you can hear yourself think for once. No admin or client work allowed!
💃 Get your blood pumping
I know, I am killing it with the advice you don’t want to hear, but it’s scientifically proven, not just by Elle Woods, but like, real doctors.
🤗 Walk away, without guilt.
Look, sometimes fetch just isn’t going to happen. Cognitively, your brain is like an old-school Roomba V. 1.0. When it hits the wall, it backs up and hits it again. Over and over again, until you have to get up and physically move him from the situation. Pushing yourself to continue only makes the slump cycle worse. Take the day to reboot and try again tomorrow. When you return, your quality of work be better, and your mental health will be improved.
If you feel guilty taking time away from your desk, remember that no one is going to give you a gold star for digging yourself into a hole you can’t escape. American work culture glorifies “grit” but in the words of Carole Ann (the wisest person I know):
“Resilience is not:
• Powering through at the expense of your mental and physical health
• Getting through it without any help and relying only on yourself
• A state or characteristic that you can “achieve”
• Bouncing back time and again through adversity no matter what
I define resilience as: the adaptability and creativity to move forward with wholeness.”– Carole Ann Penney, Strategic Career & Leadership Coach and Founder of Penney Leadership
I’ll cheers to that (and put her words on a Post-it and attach it to my computer monitor.)
7 Ways To Find Break Out Of A Work Slump
- Go somewhere stimulating to gain perspective
- Join or host a silent co-working session
- Switch gears
- Book a workcation or retreat
- Get your blood pumping
- Walk away and try again later
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