Been watching the clock a bit too much lately? Learn how to stop clock watching.

I have a confession. Near the end of one of my previous jobs, I turned into a clock watcher.

I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. You may at some point have even struggled with this yourself (think returning to work after a long vacation for example).

The clock strikes midday and you are out the door to lunch. You get back an hour later and wonder how you’re going to last for the next four hours. Five pm comes around and you are sprinting for the door!

If you are doing your job well and getting through your workload, there is nothing wrong with working your standard hours. My problem was that I was unhappy with my job. Some days, I was downright miserable – hence the clock watching behavior.

Here are some ideas on how to stop clock watching.

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Focus on the parts of your job that you like

Every job has elements that we don’t like. Forget about those for now. When you are clock watching, it can be all too easy to fixate on the negative.

Instead focus on the tasks that you enjoy, the ones that give you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. These are the actions you need to be focusing on.

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Listen to music

Remember those parts of your job that you don’t like.  If the option is available, listen to music during the boring, tedious, or repetitive parts of your job. Make the music uplifting and energetic.

Concentrate for longer periods of time

Normally productivity experts tell you to concentrate for shorter lengths of time. If you want time to fly by, without you actually watching it, you need to sink your teeth into something meaty.

Pick a task that requires a lot of concentration. If possible, make it a challenge to get the task done in one sitting. As well as taking up time, it will also give you a feeling of accomplishment which will lead to greater work satisfaction.

Make sure you have meaningful work to do after lunch

Many people including myself, suffer from an energy slump around 2 – 3.30 in the afternoon.

Around this time, I could literally climb under my desk and take a nap.

If you suffer from a similar lack of energy, it is important to plan work that you find stimulating after lunch. Your first instinct may be to plan all of your routine (slightly boring but still necessary) tasks to fit into this time slot. In reality, that could make the situation worse. It will be far more productive to plan a challenging task that requires your full concentration.

Another technique could be planning meetings around this time. Not the sort where you sit around and listen to someone else talk. Those types of meetings will quickly have you dreaming about that nap under your desk.  Meetings, where there are lots of interaction and activity, are good to schedule around this time. Making the meeting fun for people is even better. It will help energize staff for the remainder of the afternoon.

If you do suffer from energy slumps in the afternoon, pay closer attention to your diet. When I was unhappy at work, I started to comfort eat.  My food of choice – butterscotch and white chocolate muffins. While the sugar gave me a temporary shot of energy, it made the afternoon slump more severe.

Take on different work that will challenge you

The fact is you could simply be bored. Perhaps you are being underutilized for your skill level. Perhaps you have been in your current job for too long and are stuck in the rut of repeating the same work over and over.

If your job involves a monthly cycle of the same type of work, it can be particularly frustrating.  Put your hand up to take on some additional (read exciting and different tasks).

Variety and challenge in your work could be the ticket to snapping out of your rut.

Have fun with the people at work

How we get on with the people we work with is a contributing factor to how much we enjoy our office environment.  Office bullying, for example, can bring down the morale of a workgroup in record time.

Have fun with the people you work with. Organize team morning teas, lunches, running groups or whatever social event works best for your group. Build strong relationships with your co-workers, both in and outside of the office.

It goes without saying, you need to have a life outside of work. If all of your friends are work colleagues, you need to work on widening your social circle.

Have a big-picture plan

If you are going through a difficult phase at work, it will be easier to cope if you have a bigger picture in mind.  Having goals and dreams (and achieving them over time) will help alleviate some of the anxiety you are feeling at work.

Interestingly, when I work for myself from home time seems to fly by (a situation which warrants a separate blog post all of its own).

Time is a precious resource, stop watching the clock and start using your time more wisely.

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