woman watching a clockI have a confession. Near the end of one of my previous jobs, I turned into a clock watcher. At some point, I realized that my behavior was affecting my productivity and motivation so I decided to work out how to stop being a clock watcher.

You may at some point have struggled with this problem yourself (for example think about how distracted and unmotivated you felt when returning to work after a long vacation).

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!

Of course, 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 my thoughts on how to stop clock watching at work.

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links. Any compensation I receive does not affect the price you pay.

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.

To stop clock watching it helps to 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.

With many office workers working from home post the worst of Covid, listening to music while you work is easier than ever. If you are used to working in a bustling, noisy environment working from home on your own might feel a bit odd (not to mention too damn quiet). This is another reason to put your favorite music on. Just make sure it’s turned off for meetings and phone calls.

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Concentrate for longer periods of time

Normally productivity experts tell you to concentrate for shorter lengths of time, and I do agree with this concept but if you are working on how to stop clock watching, then 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.

A great book that can help with your work productivity.

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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 also 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 was butterscotch and white chocolate muffins. While the sugar gave me a temporary shot of energy, it made the afternoon slump more severe. My sugar-rich diet made me feel worse (and significantly increased my waistline, which didn’t exactly help my mood).

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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 work rut.

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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.

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.

Unfortunately, for many companies and government departments, Covid has changed the social aspect of work, so socializing with colleagues has become more challenging. Social catchups might take a bit more planning but are worth the effort.

Remember your why

Sometimes we need to know why we are doing our jobs (other than to get paid). We all need to know we are adding value in some way.

It’s important to remember that just because you don’t deal directly with customers or clients you are not making a difference. We all make a positive difference in our own way.

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Have work goals for what you want to achieve 

Hopefully, your job will have some sort of KPI’s (key performance indicators), achievement capability plans, or written goals that indicate what you are working towards. Whatever the document is called, hopefully, your role has one, so that you know what is required of you. If you don’t have one of these documents in place, you can ask for one.

What I am advising here though is that you have your own set of goals for what you want to get out of work. Have a plan for how you want to feel about your job. Instead of having it only be about sales targets or task completion, make it about your emotions and how you want to feel.

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 big-picture goals and dreams (and achieving them over time) will help alleviate some of the anxiety you are feeling at work.

How to stop clock watching at work

We spend a lot of our lives at work and we want that time to be as productive and meaningful as it can be. Regardless of our job, we want to contribute, add value, and have some fun along the way.

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

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