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8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

8 Ways to Recharge a Tired Old Job

    There’s been speculation that as the economy recovers, many people who’ve been stuck in their jobs and unable to find new ones, will suddenly pick up and move to greener pastures. In contrast there are also predictions of a “jobless recovery,” which may mean being stuck in a lackluster job longer than these people (or maybe you) expected or would prefer. If that scenario plays out, it’s vital to recharge while still in your current job. Both near-term success and preparing for future successful moves make this essential.

    Having been in one company for way longer than I ever expected, I had to reinvent myself multiple times to stay sane, productive, and continue to grow personally and professionally. These 8 strategies can help you recharge your job if you feel you’re getting stale:

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    1. Document the lessons you’ve learned.

    Having been around the block a few times at your job you’ll have learned many lessons about what works and doesn’t in your profession, your company, and your industry. Thinking back on the strategic lessons you’ve learned provides an opportunity to start a blog, do presentations, record a podcast, or write an ebook. Sharing your knowledge in this way can build your stature with a broader audience to help pave the way for your next career move.

    2. Reuse, recycle, and revamp.

    If you’ve been a student of what you do, you should know a variety of techniques, models, and strategies that make you more effective. Having previously worked through them to understand what and how they deliver results, you’re in a unique position to begin tweaking them more aggressively. Rather than being stuck doing things one way over and over, you can modify certain elements to test for improved performance in subsequent uses.

    3. Simplify business models, processes, or messages.

    Mark Twain had a famous quote apologizing for the long length of a letter, mentioning he didn’t have the time to make it shorter. Most of us face the same challenge – it takes time to simplify things. Having been in your job for some time however, you’re in the perfect position to bring simplicity to your job and what your company does. Every business can use more simplicity. Take advantage of your tenure to create greater value by being the person who has the experience to make things easy, clear, and free of unnecessary detail.

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    4. Devote yourself to new learning.

    Smart kids who are bored with school get into trouble when they aren’t challenged. Same thing happens in careers, too. The difference is in a work setting, you typically have to find ways to challenge yourself. If your mental energies aren’t fully engaged currently, get yourself going mentally with additional reading, training, or just plain experimenting with new techniques in your chosen field. You’ll become even more valuable in today’s job and whatever lies ahead for you.

    5. Become a mentor.

    What better way to take advantage of expertise you’ve developed from having been in one place for a while than by sharing it with others in your company? It’s not only beneficial for another person; mentoring pays dividends for you as well. You’ll learn new angles on what you know through explaining it to someone else. You’ll increase the size of your “fan” base within the company. Ideally, you’ll also prepare someone to be your own replacement, helping free you for other opportunities inside your company should you elect to stay longer.

    6. Redesign your job.

    Use your knowledge and view of the business to identify areas where you can make a stronger contribution or fix problems that exist today. Document your thoughts and start introducing them to your boss toward redesigning your job. Just remember this: focus on the results and benefits you’ll deliver for the company, not on what’s frustrating you about your current position. Doing so will make your boss a lot more likely to hear you out and consider your proposal.

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    7. Find new ways to use your talents.

    If you’ve delivered results in your current job, you’re obviously known for the talents you possess. Build off that success to find new places to apply your talents inside your company. The key is to generalize what you do. For instance rather than thinking of yourself as a “finance person,” recast that as having “an aptitude for numbers and measurement.” All of a sudden, you might be able to look at a variety of metrics and monitoring-oriented positions such as project management, marketing analysis, call center management, etc.

    8. Be a bolder you.

    Early in a new job, you may feel pressured to dial back your personality to fit in. As you gain comfort, it’s time to introduce more of your personality into what you do. Are there talents, hobbies, or other passions you have which only get time and attention outside work? If so, look for ways to introduce those elements into your work. Maybe you’ve developed knowledge and experience in social media. Look for ways to bring that to your work setting to help drag your company into this century.

    Try these strategies while you’re seeking something better. You may improve your current gig so much that staying actually becomes viable!

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

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      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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