Smart Ways To Get Out Of A Rut At Work (Without Quitting)

Ever feel like even when you spend more time on work, you still can’t get anything done? Do you find yourself staring at your computer screen aimlessly, feeling that you’re doing the same thing today that you did yesterday… and will do again tomorrow? If you’re stuck in a rut at work it can feel like the only answer is to find a new job, but there are things you can do to break out of a rut and start feeling good about your work again without hitting the job boards.


Take some time to think and figure out when you started feeling “off.” Are you physically exhausted from weeks of overtime? Are you emotionally depleted by something going on in your personal life? Or have you advanced enough in your field that you never feel challenged at work? Once you understand what’s causing you to feel stuck you can create a plan to recharge your life.

Get Organized

When you’re in a rut, it’s typical to let things pile up. Get organized by replying to those emails, decluttering your desk, and finishing up those half-completed projects. This will give you the forward momentum to make positive changes.

Shake Up Your Routine

Research shows that change – even small changes – can significantly improve your outlook and give you a new direction. Shake up your daily routine by swapping your office chair for a standing desk or an exercise ball, take a day to telework, or make time to talk to your colleagues face-to-face rather than communicating solely via email. Breaking your routine can reinvigorate you and help you get inspired to try other new things like reading a book or blog (like this one!) or going to a professional seminar.

Find Your Vision And Work Towards It

If you’re experiencing burnout, it’s easy to disengage and leave your best self at the door. Reignite your passion for your work by remembering why you started your career in the first place and what vision you had for yourself in the future. Once  you have a solid vision, don’t make the mistake of assuming that your role in your organization is limited to your job description. Look for opportunities to network across departments and develop new skills, and you may open the door for new and interesting projects or even a promotion.

The 7 Scariest Interview Questions — And How To Answer Them

Interviewing for a new job is one of the most frightening things you’ll do all year. This Halloween, we’ve sifted through some of the scariest interview questions you’re likely to face and come up with some expert tips for tackling them.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

This questions strikes fear in all who hear it. Even though nearly every interview starts off with this question, it’s always nerve-wracking to answer when you know this will be the first impression you make on the interviewer. Research the position and the company so you’ll be prepared to frame your experience in a way that shows you have the skills for the job, but remember not to make this sound too scripted.

DO: Focus on your professional background and be succinct.

DON’T: Share your life story or go through your resume line-by-line.

2. “What is your greatest weakness?” 

This question has become cliché, but employers still ask it. Definitely don’t respond to this with the equally clichéd, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard.”  Employers ask this because they want to gauge your self-awareness. Now is not the time to humblebrag.

DO: Show that you’re aware of your weakness(es) and have taken steps toward overcoming them.

DON’T: Mention a weakness that is a core competency of the job.

3. “Why have you been out of work for so long?” 

Being asked to explain an employment gap can be panic-inducing, and, if you’ve been unemployed for a significant amount of time, this question can start to feel like a personal attack. Remember to breathe and understand that the employer is trying to get an idea of how fresh your skills are and why this is the right job for you when returning to the workforce after a break.

DO: Give an honest answer that still positions you as a strong candidate for the job.

DON’T: Lie, make excuses, or indicate that you’re desperate for a job.

4. “Why should I hire you?”

We’ve talked about the best way to answer this one before. The key thing to remember here is that your answer to this question needs to be different from your answers to “Tell me about yourself” or “What are your greatest strengths.” This is your chance to stand out from other candidates and you won’t do that by restating what’s listed on your resume.

DO: Be specific about what makes you unique and how you can help the organization achieve its goals.

DON’T: Just reiterate things you’ve already said at another point in the interview.

5. “What are your salary requirements?”

This is an uncomfortable question with high stakes. Don’t wait until you’re asked to think about your answer. Making a split-second decision is not a good way to start a salary discussion that will have a big impact on your future. Research the average salary for professionals in your industry and region, and understand your personal financial needs and your bottom line. Remember: It’s best to find out what range the employer is working within first, before giving your own number.

DO: Provide a salary range that you would be comfortable within rather than a specific number, and understand the benefits package offered.

DON’T: Get into a detailed salary negotiation before you have a formal offer of employment.  

6. “Do you have kids?”

Or “Are you married?” Or “What country are you from?” Not only are these questions frighteningly personal, they’re also illegal. Questions about your marital status, national origin, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and disabilities are off-limits and illegal to ask in an interview. If you find yourself facing inappropriate interview questions, evaluate whether the interviewer is simply ignorant of the law or deliberately discriminating. Think about whether you would still be comfortable working for the organization in light of the situation and whether you still wish to continue with the interview. If you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against, you can file charges with the US EEOC.

DO: Let the interviewer know that you believe their question is inappropriate and/or illegal. Politely decline to answer and, if you are still interested in continuing with the interview, ask to move on to the next inquiry.

DON’T: Lie, and don’t feel that you need to discuss anything you don’t feel comfortable sharing. 

7. “If you were an animal, which one would you be?”

Or “How many traffic lights are there in Manhattan?” Don’t be alarmed by off-the-wall interview questions. Interviewers sometimes use psychological questions or “wildcards” to see if you can think quickly and find out how you solve problems. Remember that there isn’t a “right” answer here. You just need to demonstrate thoughtfulness and agility.

DO: Take a (brief) moment to understand the question before answering, and explain why you answered the way you did.

DON’T: Give a one-word answer or ask to skip this question.

There are hundreds of other frightening interview questions out there, some even scarier than these. What’s the most terrifying interview question you’ve ever been asked?

Why Intercultural Communication Skills Matter Now

Globalization is a hot topic in this year’s presidential election. As candidates discuss the pros and cons of globalization’s effects on business and enterprise in the U.S., it is clear that the next administration will have to address new challenges related to the globalization of economies. However, addressing globalization’s impact is not just the responsibility of heads of state. With students and employees continuing to cross borders, institutions of higher education and organizations are swiftly diversifying. All of us are responsible for adapting to this changing environment.

Developing intercultural communication skills matters more than ever. Wondering how you can better engage with people from different countries that are sitting in your classroom or joining your team at work? Here are two steps to help you connect with people from different cultures:

1. Learn about where you come from.

The way we see, interact with, and understand the world depends on the culture and values we grew up with. As we become increasingly interconnected, it is important to understand who you are in order to best communicate with others. Recognizing that you see the world in a unique way will help you to understand why someone from a different culture may not see things exactly the way that you do. Think about aspects of your identity, such as your age, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability status, sexual orientation, and spiritual orientation. How have these parts of your identity impacted your worldview? In addition, how have certain sociocultural and personal events shaped who you are?

2. Learn more about other cultures.

Reading books by authors from other countries, watching movies and documentaries filmed abroad, and reaching out to your colleagues, classmates, and neighbors from different cultures will help you educate yourself about other cultures. Asking someone about cultural do’s and don’ts in their country can often lead to a fun conversation. Taking a language course is another great way to learn about the geography, people, and history of the countries where the language is spoken. The more contact and exposure you have to people from other cultures, the more culturally competent you will become.

Even though we are more connected by popular media today, our cultural differences persist and can lead to unnecessary and unintended intercultural conflicts. If we want to avoid cultural clashes like this, we must educate ourselves as best as possible about who we are and about the cultural values and beliefs of others. Awareness will help us understand why someone may be arguing a certain ethical point in class or leading a meeting in a certain way at work. Awareness will make us better prepared to listen, rather than react. Even if we end up not agreeing, our intercultural communication skills will allow us to respect one another and be more accepting of our differences.

A Lifelong Learner’s Secrets To High-Impact Learning

For most professionals, the workday is measured by how much you get done. Every moment that isn’t spent working seems like time wasted. But there is evidence that investing time each day in learning something new can drastically improve your productivity and problem-solving skills in the long-term.

In the long run, the brightest and most effective people are those who are lifelong learners. Learning enriches our understanding of the world, sheds light on new opportunities, and improves our quality of life. Ready to devote some time to becoming a lifelong learner? Here are some secrets to high-impact learning:

Make time for just learning. 

Scheduling downtime to explore new ideas through reading, having deep conversations, attending classes or seminars, or just observing others can help you acquire new skills and insights. Building time into your day to learn more about yourself or your industry can give you the tools to solve today’s problems while also helping you figure out how to achieve your long-term goals. Through school, through work, or through interactions with friends and colleagues learning happens all the time. An extended coffee break with a friend may seem like slacking off, but some of the world’s best ideas have been born by taking time to bounce ideas around. Make the time and make things happen.

Practice Deliberately.

Most people practice through repetition of what they already know. Yet research shows that only by deliberate practice — that is, focusing specific and sustained efforts on something your can’t yet do well — can you become an expert.  Engaging in deliberate practice is key to high-impact learning. By strategically practicing new skills you can improve far more quickly. Likewise, finding practical application for your learning will help you retain more of what you have learned.


One of the most important and most-overlooked parts of the learning process is reflection. Not only does synthesizing and articulating the learning experience solidify the new knowledge, research shows that reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal, which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. Ruminating can help us gain perspective on lessons learned and fully assimilate new ideas.

Five Tips For Working & Going To School At The Same Time

According to new research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), today most postsecondary students are working and going to school. “The nature of work requirements have changed over time,” said report coauthor Nicole Smith, a Research Professor and Chief Economist at CEW. “The fast pace of technological growth has made it necessary for individuals to be always upscaling their skills and credentials.”

Technology has not only changed traditional jobs, but it has also created entirely new job categories. Many jobs that exist today may not have existed 10 or 20 years ago, such as jobs in healthcare IT, cybersecurity, big data, data analytics, and app and mobile development. Companies want to hire well-rounded individuals who can understand the technical aspects of their job while also having leadership and management skills.

At Georgetown’s Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE), our certificate programs are designed to provide students with real-world skills they can immediately apply in the workplace as well as a better understanding of the competencies they may need in the future. Wondering how you can upgrade your skills while still holding down a full- or part-time job? Here are five tips for balancing work and school:

1. Build A Support System

Having a strong support system can make or break you. Whether it’s family, friends, or a mentor, you need people around who can help you stay motivated and remember your passion for the career you’re preparing for.

2. Plan Your Academic Path

Set goals and figure out what steps you need to take to reach them. Do you need six courses to complete your program? Find out when they’re offered and talk to an advisor to get help mapping out your course plan. Every student is different and talking to an advisor can help you decide if you should take classes back-to-back or give yourself more time to absorb the material.

3. Time Management Is Everything

It’s easy to forget about school when you’re working long hours or focusing on a big project at the office. Take a few minutes each morning to think about what you need to accomplish and the steps involved. Knowing what success looks like before you start will help you manage your time intentionally and keep track of anything you’ve missed.

Can you do your class readings on the train to work? Could that client meeting happen at a restaurant after class? Finding ways to knock out small pieces of each project will help you stay on track.

4. Bring School To Work

Whenever you can, try to use your work as a case study in your class projects and put your class projects into practice at your company or organization. This will help you learn to apply the concepts you’re exploring in the classroom and make a big impact at work.

Make sure your manager knows you are going to school. Bringing your boss into the conversation will help set expectations and could open up new opportunities. Some employers offer funding for employee education or professional development that could help you pay for school, and your manager might be willing to be flexible with your schedule if you can show continuing your education in a certain area will help you make positive changes at work.

5. Harness The Power Of Teamwork

One of the best parts of going back to school while working is that every class is a networking opportunity. Look for opportunities to form study groups or partner up on assignments and build relationships with your classmates. Working in a team can increase your learning and also give you insight into the way other people in your industry work.

Bonus tip: Love what you’re learning! We’ve all become full-time students now simply because the pace of technology and the skills that are needed change so fast. In today’s environment, you have to constantly reinvent yourself.