5 Ways to Survive the Work Day When You Are Stuck In Your 9 to 5

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For two years before I quit my job, I found myself suffering through each workday. Although I liked the work I was doing, I was discouraged by my advancement options and frustrated with a culture that was going through a lot of change. I felt like there was something more for me out there, that I wasn’t reaching my full potential (corny, I know). Because for so long I didn’t have a good plan to get out of my situation, I found myself coming up with ways to make the workdays less miserable. Here are some of my favorite tips that I used to survive those long, excruciating 9-5 hours.

Tip #1: Look forward to something.

To survive my 9-5, I started finding things to look forward to each day. It could be as simple as getting to wear a new outfit, or having afternoon coffee with a friend. Every night before I went to bed, I would force myself to come up with something that I was looking forward to the next day, and in the morning, I would get myself excited about whatever it was. Just focusing on this one thing was enough to get myself out of bed and into the office every day without too much struggle. Short on ideas? Here are a few that worked for me:

  • Listening to a new playlist
  • Getting to eat my favorite food at lunch
  • Taking an afternoon break to sit outside and read
  • Meeting a friend for a quick breakfast before the office
  • Spending time in a meeting with co-workers I got along with

Tip #2: Make your workspace pleasant.

This is a pro tip for anyone, whether you like your job or not, but if you’re struggling through your 9-5, this definitely helps. No, making everything pretty won’t fix all of your problems, but your workspace should at least be a place where you feel comfortable and productive and enjoy being in every day. A few of my favorite ways to spruce up a workspace are:

  • Bring in flowers (or a plant).
  • Add colorful frames with pictures of your loved ones.
  • Find a comfy throw and a pretty throw pillow for your chair.
  • Get a cushioned footstool to give your feet a rest.
  • Use a motivational mug or pretty dishware for the meals you eat at your desk.

Tip #3: Get out of the office.

I know this can be tough depending on your job, but getting out of the office is SO critical. Spending a few minutes walking around in the fresh air is absolutely necessary to restore your productivity and improve your mental health. Having trouble finding the time? Ask a co-worker if you can do your meeting on foot while walking around the building.

Tip #4: Use it to your advantage.

If you’re building a business while working in your 9-5, use this time to your advantage. Take care of setting up your business while you are collecting a paycheck (OK, not literally while you are at work – do it on your own time!). And whether or not you’re building a side hustle, try to find benefits to your current job. Are you learning any skills that will be useful when you leave? Can you get your employer to pay for trainings or courses? Are there certain people at your current company who you would like to mentor you? Develop those relationships now. There’s always a silver lining to every situation – figure out what you can get out of your current company now and use your time while still in your 9-5 to your advantage. 

Tip #5: Craft your exit plan.

Bottom line, if you’re miserable in your job, you need to figure out the next move. Whether that’s starting your own business or finding another job, inaction will only make you more miserable and take it from someone who’s been there – it becomes SO MUCH HARDER to figure out the next step when you are so far gone. (Watch my recent Mistake Monday for more on this). Use this time (while you are collecting a paycheck!) to figure out your exit plan, and then use it as your beacon to guide you through those last days.

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If you’re miserable in your 9-5, I get it, because I’ve been there. I hope these tips help make your days just a tiny bit brighter, but if you still need a little encouragement, check out my Virtual Hugs here. Ready to start working on your exit plan? I’d love to help you through that journey! Check out how I can help you here. 


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