How to recognise if you're "in the zone" at work

Anna Kelsey-Sugg

Missing the zing in your step? Here's some help to refresh at work and steps to getting in the work groove.

Are you on the ball, in the groove, fully immersed in what you’re doing? Are you energised, enthused and engaged in your job?

It might help to ask yourself these questions – and to think about the factors contributing to your answer. It’s also important for your own happiness in your role.

The job of returning someone to work is challenging and demanding, and requires constant attention too. It’s important to be aware of how you’re faring in your job to identify what’s working and what the knowledge gaps are - identifying them let's you know when to call for assistance and analyse areas for training.

What are your skills?

Identify what you’re good at. Generally that’s something you’ll like doing. It might be communicating with people, writing up and organising plans, or attention to detail.

If you can identify and rank your skills, it’s easier to return to and focus on those as the starting point for many of your activities. It also gives you a starting point to build on areas that are not necessarily your strengths.

What are the everyday human needs?

American psychologist Abraham Maslow identified as the most important of humans’ five basic needs (after food and shelter, safety, socialising and respect) the need to be fulfilled.

For many people this is the ability to contribute, but also to feel your aptitudes and skills satisfied.

Consider this need. Ask yourself:

Is my job working for me?

It’s natural to feel frustrated at times in your job - we all do - but there are some signs that what you’re feeling is more than the usual passing frustration.

Signs that the job isn’t working include:

  1. You feel that your manager is not competent or is not supporting you in your role.
  2. You feel stressed and irritable, tired a lot of the time.
  3. You don't feel like you’re enjoying your job and fulfilled in the role.
  4. You fail to follow-up on important issues and deal with things in an offhand way.
  5. You feel anxious when you get up in the morning about going to work, or generally negative about your job.
  6. You complain a lot to your partner or family or friend about your role.
  7. You wish you were doing something else.
If the job’s not working for you, what do you need to change it?

If the job isn’t working there may be simple things you can do to change the situation.

  1. Explore how you’re managing the role. Are you too busy doing it by yourself, not having engaged the team?
  2. Are you supervisors trained, does your senior management team understand the issues and support you or do they need more advise and understanding of how they can help you.
  3. Do you need to take a holiday?
  4. Do you need a change in the systems that support you, such as computer case management software, training and excel.
  5. Do you need someone else doing the same job to talk to, to have a yarn, debrief, or get advice from time to time?
  6. Do you need to change jobs?

As a return to work coordinator it’s easy to get so involved with looking after the work concerns of others that you neglect your own concerns. Keep these questions at the forefront of your mind – addressing them early on increasing the chance of any issues being overcome, and you’re likely to feel happier on the job.