Beating the Two-Month Slump – What to Do When the New-Job Novelty Wears Off


When your new job or client isn’t so new, and the anticipation of getting down to business every day is replaced by a feeling of dread at the mere thought of your alarm clock, slump has set in. Beat it fast with some quick ways to perk up your work.

Are you suffering from new-job burnout?

A lot of young professionals, particularly young women, feel pressure to perform at the top of their game at all times, to overachieve and to prove themselves. As a result, many career girls push themselves too hard and end up feeling unsatisfied and frustrated without knowing why.

President and founder of Henry Neils lists common signs of early job burnout: fatigue or a feeling of being rundown, anger toward the people making demands (like your boss and coworkers), self-criticism, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed all the time. If any of these sound like you, it’s time to take action and fall back in love with your job.

Take some time off

Regardless of what’s happening at work, you need to take care of yourself. Even if you’ve got a ton of stuff to do, make sure you block out time in the day to get away from your desk and to stop thinking about work. A five-minute stroll to the lobby and back, or even an extended bathroom break every hour is enough to keep you from falling into cube stupor.

Feed your face

Leaving time in the morning and in the middle of the day for a nutritious meal, even if it’s something small, will help you increase your energy level by giving your brain the fuel it needs to get you through the day. Do you find it hard to get up early enough for a good breakfast, or to break away from your desk at noon? Fresh and dried fruit are instant energy that you can carry in your purse or keep at your desk for those times when you’re not on the go.

Catch some ZZZs

Your mother has told you this for years, and it’s time to face facts: you really do need a good night’s sleep every night. Many signs of burnout are also signs of severe sleep deprivation. According to a recent study by Dr. Pierre Phillip, published in 2004 in the Journal of Sleep Research, younger adults appear to be more strongly affected by sleep deprivation than older adults.

While it’s tempting to maintain your college schedule, staying up late and consistently getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep each night can wreak havoc on your professional life. Research has shown that sleep deprivation not only impairs your reaction times and judgment, but it can make you just plain cranky, which means that you’re not able to enjoy work even if you adore your job.

Think first, then react

When your inbox is filling up and your to-do list is growing by the minute, it’s easy to overreact to innocuous office interactions. Although it’s possible that your boss may genuinely want to make your life more difficult, it’s a safe bet that making you miserable is not his or her main motivation for your assignments. And chances are good that your coworkers aren’t consciously trying to annoy you. Keep in mind that their behavior might not be personal, whenever you’re tempted to snap at someone at work.

Celebrate your success

After you’ve mastered the day-to-day basics of your job, it’s easy to get caught up in what you still have left to learn and to focus on what still challenges you. Don’t get sucked into the cycle of negative self-talk. Use a career notebook or your personal journal to record your triumphs in the office. Give yourself a pat on the back for progress you’ve made on things that were hard at the beginning, and remind yourself that tasks that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago are second nature now.

Remember what made you fall in love

When you start to feel frustrated and are ready to bail, think back to how excited you were when you got the job offer. Why did you want to work with your organization? What about the position appealed to you? When was the moment that you knew it was the right job for you? Focus on the things that attracted you to the position in the first place, and you’ll start finding them again in your everyday experiences.

* This article originally appeared in desire Los Angeles in March 2005.

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