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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 August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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