How to Get out of a Work Rut (Without Quitting)

Frustrated man performs a face palm move.

Ever feel like even when you spend more time on work, you still can’t get anything done? Do you find yourself staring at your computer screen aimlessly, feeling that you’re doing the same thing today that you did yesterday … and will do again tomorrow? If you’re stuck in a rut at work it can sometimes feel like the only answer is to find a new job and start fresh. But before you decide to throw in the towel, here are a few things you can do to break out of a rut and start feeling good about your work again—without hitting the job boards.


Take some time to think and figure out when you started feeling “off.” Are you physically exhausted from weeks of overtime? Are you emotionally depleted by something going on in your personal life? Or have you advanced enough in your field that you never feel challenged at work? Once you understand what’s causing you to feel stuck you can create a plan to recharge your life.

Get Organized

When you’re in a rut, it’s typical to let things pile up. Get organized by replying to those emails, decluttering your desk, and finishing up those half-completed projects. This will give you the forward momentum you need to make positive changes.

Shake up Your Routine

Research shows that change—even small changes—can significantly improve your outlook and give you a new direction. Shake up your daily routine by swapping your office chair for a standing desk or an exercise ball, take a day to telework, or make time to talk to your colleagues face-to-face rather than communicating solely via email. Breaking your routine can reinvigorate you and help you get inspired to try other new things like reading a book or an article (like this one!) or going to a professional seminar.

Find Your Vision and Work Toward It

If you’re experiencing burnout, it’s easy to disengage and leave your best self at the door. Reignite your passion for your work by remembering why you started your career in the first place and what vision you had for yourself in the future. Once you have a solid vision, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your role in your organization is limited to your job description. Look for opportunities to network across departments and develop new skills, and you may open the door for new and interesting projects, or even a promotion.