Even if you’re blessed with the best job complete with glorious coworkers, flexible work hours, and cool snacks in the breakroom, workday routines inevitably turn stale—and just like that, you’re feeling that familiar slump.
It can feel subtle at first but undeniable. Maybe you’ve found yourself zoning out in meetings, the result of too many repetitive agendas, or you keep getting stuck whenever you try to brainstorm a creative project pitch.
That saying “inspiration strikes anywhere” is categorically true, but it misses a major point. Often, inspiration strikes anywhere else besides your normal day-to-day haunts. So, in the spirit of breaking from the norm to get things moving, here are some ways to switch up your work schedule. Because who said work couldn’t be fun?
Switch Up Your Commute
If you’re spending a good chunk of your day commuting in rush hour traffic, the repetition will get to you. But the same goes for those of us who work from home (bed to kitchen to desk to kitchen to bed…).
Our commutes are a huge part of our morning routines, so when they start to wear us down, it’s increasingly difficult to get excited about starting our days. The good news is that a few small changes can reinvigorate the experience:
- If you’re commuting by car, take a different route home, if only for the last 10 or 20 minutes. (It’s easier to take the scenic route on the way back than when you’re worried you’ll be late for your morning meeting).
- Park 10 or 15 minutes away from your office, so you can walk through an area you’ve only driven through before. You will see things you’ve never noticed.
- Make a networking date or plans for happy hour with a friend on your way home to punctuate your commute. Added bonus: by the time you’re done, traffic should have eased up.
- Take a different walking route to your train stop or go wild and take a different line or bus home.
- Commit to talking to one person on the train each day, just to see what you discover.
Start a Coffee Club
There’s a 97.28% chance the coffee at your office is terrible (that’s a scientific fact). There’s also a 72.45% chance that you have a colleague who you don’t know well enough. Cue the coffee club. Ask around to see if anyone would like to contribute to a monthly pool for good bags of beans. (You could also take turns bringing a bag of coffee from your favorite local spot, sort of like hosting book club night.) Then schedule a time in the morning when you all gravitate around a French press. Let the conversations commence.
Spearhead a “Good Reads” Slack Channel or Newsletter
You know all those fascinating articles you bookmark about productivity and work hacks like, ahem, this piece? Why not share your favorites with your team? See if anyone else would be interested in a round-up of industry-related or topical reads, then find a way to start organizing and sending them on a weekly or monthly basis. Fun fact: Maria Popova, founder of Brain Pickings, started the site as an internal newsletter that she’d send to colleagues.
Actually Plan an Office Happy Hour
Even if it’s an informal one. As much as we’d all love to work for that company where everyone spontaneously decides to head to their neighborhood Cheers once or twice a week, people have evening plans, kids to pick up from daycare, freelance deadlines to get home to, etc. Sometimes, it takes someone volunteering to serve as “team event planner” to make a 5pm outing happen. Email around a couple of weeks in advance to see if anyone’s interested (this is a great opportunity to use the excuse of a new place you’ve wanted to try, e.g. “I saw that that new wine bar opened around the corner and thought it would be fun for us to try it!”), then remind everyone a couple days before.
Suggest a New Format for Your Driest Meeting
We all fall into the meeting trap. The same agenda, the same day, the same people on repeat. Sometimes, we don’t even notice the format isn’t working anymore—even if (and maybe especially if) we’re the ones managing them. So, Step 1: think of the meeting that drains you the most. Step 2: Think about a small tweak that could make it more dynamic or fun.
Could you suggest starting it with an “office snacks taste test” where you budget a small amount of money toward bringing in cauliflower Cheez-Its or Korean yogurt drinks? Would your boss consider a “walking meeting”? What about adding a “show and tell” to your all-team meeting where different teams teach everyone a skill they use daily?
Add a “Treat Yourself” Moment to Your Daily Routine
Sad desk lunches and vending machine snacks don’t need to be the norm. I had a coworker who used to fix herself a cheese and charcuterie plate for lunch occasionally. She also stored gelato in the office freezer, so that she could have an afternoon affogato (coffee poured over ice cream) whenever she wanted. I dream of having even a fraction of that joie de vivre.