Strategies to overcome the mid-year slump

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Everyone experiences a work slump now and then, but the halfway point of any year can make it increasingly difficult to maintain motivation. Fortunately, it’s possible to revive job satisfaction by reigniting your drive and reassessing your goals.

When your brain switches to autopilot, you make conscious, automatic decisions without realising it. This helps you accomplish all your daily tasks. As a result, you could be trapped in a mid-year slump without realising it.

Signs that you could be experiencing a mid-year slump

  • Every day feels like a rinse and repeat of the previous day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing new tasks, hobbies or work you normally enjoy, you’re always bored.
  • You are reluctant to exit your comfort zone. When you’re in a slump, you’re more likely to lack the drive or passion you initially had. This demotivates you and leaves you with no enthusiasm for working towards your goals, trying new things and excelling.
  • Dreading going to work most days and experiencing heightened work-related stress (virtually or in-office) is a regular occurrence.
  • You are desperate to make a change or an escape. This could include searching for new job roles, new cities or courses to study. You may also spend a lot of time daydreaming about other situations without taking action.

How to reignite your drive

Determine why you’re in a slump

Figuring out the main trigger for your slump can help you tackle the issue. For example, it can be difficult to be motivated or excited about work if you’ve mastered your current role. This could mean you need to try new tasks at work, such as volunteering in a different department, or upskill with interesting short courses on a learning platform such as Coursera. Writing down how you are feeling and or talking to someone you trust can help you to identify your triggers.

Reset your goals

If you’ve been struggling to achieve your goals or haven’t achieved many of them thus far, you may lack the confidence and drive to follow through. Relook at the goals you’ve been working towards and assess whether they are realistic and still meaningful. Write down the goals which are still relevant and try breaking them down into smaller components to make them less daunting. Devise a plan to meet each one with a set deadline.

Reactivate your motivation

Discovering what energises you is key to activating your motivation. What makes you feel most alive or inspired? For some, this could mean taking a walk, journalling, listening to a podcast, drawing or sitting by the ocean. Do activities that ignite your drive and schedule them daily.

Break out of your comfort zone

Slumps are often rooted in being stuck in your comfort zone, so push yourself to gradually change your routine. This could be as simple as getting up earlier, including a morning walk in your daily routine or trying new dishes. Then work your way up to exploring a new hobby or an unfamiliar work task.

Set healthy boundaries

This could mean saying no to working overtime, telling your team you won’t be answering emails after clocking out for the day or delegating work when possible. It’s also important to talk to your manager if you have any work-related issues, particularly if anyone is overstepping the boundaries you set.

For more advice related to work, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.


Are you microbreaking enough at work?

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Chatting with a co-worker, making a cup of coffee or putting in a load of washing may seem like procrastination, but it can be beneficial. Read our article to learn what microbreaking is, why it differs from procrastination and how to practise it effectively.

Being glued to your screen is not necessarily the best strategy for productivity, and taking a breather now and then can help you to bounce back from fatigue and disengagement during work.

Microbreaks are short intervals you take from work throughout the day. It could involve anything from standing up to stretch, doing some desk exercises, making a cup of coffee, chatting to a colleague or refilling your water bottle.

Microbreaks vs. procrastination

Microbreaks aren’t procrastination. The difference is that microbreaks can help you to recharge. And unlike procrastination, which can cause you to put off or avoid a task, microbreaks can help you to produce better work.

What’s more, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that microbreaks can help workers to be more engaged and maintain their energy levels throughout a working day.

They’re so effective because they enable a process called ‘psychological detachment’, where you’re able to mentally disengage from work, allowing your brain to rest.

Microbreaks can also help you to:

Examples of microbreaks

Considering COVID-19 regulations, some good options for microbreaking during work include:


  • watching a short funny video
  • getting up to make or buy a cup of coffee
  • updating your diary with key events

Remote working

  • catching up with someone over text or video call
  • putting in a load of washing
  • stepping outside for some air

How to use microbreaks effectively

Schedule them. Add time to your daily calendar to take microbreaks. You can choose different times using phone alerts or an app such as Stretch Reminder to prompt you.

Take a break when you’re distracted. You won’t be truly productive if you aren’t focused. Whenever you’re feeling distracted, use it as your cue to take a microbreak. This could be as simple as stretching your legs.

Try the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management strategy where you work in blocks of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. An app like Tide can help you with this.

Learn to normalise it. There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking microbreaks since they will help you work more effectively.

For more work-related advice, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.


Drugs in the workplace: what employers need to know

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It is estimated that between 5% and 35% of employees are dependent drinkers and approximately 7% to 20% have drug problems, according to a study on the prevalence of drug abuse within the workforce in South Africa. Therefore, it’s vital for employers to effectively handle drug abuse in the workplace. Use our tips for insight.

The extent of drug abuse in South Africa is alarming, with 1 in 10 people admitting to abusing drugs. It’s a problem that’s rife in the workplace too, particularly among farm workers, people who work in the transport and mining industry, medical workers, musicians and artists.

Drug abuse physically and mentally impairs you. Therefore, employees who struggle with substance abuse may be less productive and may injure themselves or others on the job.

Substance abusers at work may:

  • arrive late or be absent from work frequently
  • miss deadlines often or perform poorly at work
  • use more sick days under the pretence of feeling unwell
  • perceive their job negatively
  • struggle to get along with colleagues or supervisors

Employees with substance-abuse problems may also make careless errors, put others in danger or engage in criminal activities, such as theft, at work. Alcohol is the most abused substance in South Africa, particularly by senior staff, but cannabis and over-the-counter medication (OTC) are also abused.

OTC medication is available without prescription from pharmacies, supermarkets and other health and wellness stores. These medications include pain pills like anti-inflammatories and cold medication like cough syrup, and repeated use can result in addiction or dependence.

In recent years, there has also been an increase in the abuse of medications like Ritalin and Concerta, which are used specifically to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since the medication increases alertness and concentration, it’s used by professionals, students and athletes to increase productivity.

Prescription medication should always be used as directed by a healthcare professional, since some medications have addictive ingredients. Talk to your doctor when you receive a new prescription and ask about side effects – especially addictive properties. Prescription drug misuse also occurs when prescription medication is shared among friends, family and co-workers. While sharing is usually done with the best intention, it can be very dangerous, so avoid it.

Signs of substance abuse at work

Most people who abuse drugs will try to hide their problem from their employers and co-workers and signs may vary depending on the kind of addiction. Common warning signs include:

  • irrational behaviour, such as blaming co-workers for their mistakes
  • moodiness and indifference for no apparent reason
  • an increase in the number of breaks during working hours
  • openly speaking about relationship or financial problems
  • sweaty hands, red nose, bloodshot eyes and lack of personal hygiene
  • frequently asking for salary advances or borrowing money from co-workers

How to approach employees about drug abuse

Employees with a problem of drug abuse may not admit to their addiction, as they may fear stigma or job loss. If you suspect a colleague or subordinate has a drug-addiction problem, it’s important to approach them. This will help them to get treatment as soon as possible and lower the impact their drug use could have on the company.

It’s best to do this privately and you should involve their direct supervisor, the head of the department and human resources. Drug-abuse policies and procedures differ from company to company, but some things you should consider when approaching them could include:

  • letting them know you’ve received a report that they’ve been abusing drugs
  • avoiding accusing or judgmental language, as drug addiction is often related to mental health issues
  • explaining the company’s drug abuse policy and ensuring that you are sharing information as per the South African laws on drug abuse
  • offering resources or treatment options if available

Where to find help if you or someone you know has a drug problem

For more advice related to substance addiction, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.


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