To some, being miserable at work has become a way of life – How often have you sat at work dreaming about the day you finally walk out and quit, or feel defeated because you aren’t getting paid enough for the dedication and hard work you give your company? If you are one of these such people I have great news: all you need to do is follow these few tips, and I can almost guarantee you will be happier and will get your “work/life” balance back on track. If you want to wake up and not dread going to work every morning, then keep on reading!
Here are 10 tips for how to be happier at work:
1. Find a Work Best Friend
Everybody needs a friend to confide in, and your work-self is the same way. Find someone in your workplace that you get along well with, that you can vent to if you need to let off steam. Make sure the venting goes both ways if needed – sometimes hearing someone else’s problems make your problems seem small and insignificant, which will stop them gnawing at your productivity. Be sure to also talk about the positive things that are happening in your life (work or home life) so that this “work best friend” doesn’t turn into a “negativity trap.” Make sure this is someone you are excited to see every day because it will subconsciously make you happier and more motivated to go to work every day.
2. Get Enough Sleep
If you are like me, anything less than 7 hours of sleep makes me a complete grump. Being in a bad mood when going to work will allow the negative thoughts to brood in your mind, therefore amplifying your unhappiness at work. My suggestion? Don’t click “next episode” on your binge series, or tell yourself “only one more game” when you are supposed to be going to bed! Not only will your mood improve, you will also be more energetic and productive, which increases your mood as well. Like a win-win-win!
3. Find Your Purpose
Sometimes people can fall into a routine at work and forget why they wanted the job in the first place in the mountains of emails and paperwork. Take a break from time to time and really think about why you are where you are. Do you have the chance to make a difference in the world? Are you helping others get their groceries, have a place to live, evolving your community for the better? For me, I find purpose in knowing I am helping expedite biological research to further make a difference in the scientific community.
4. Reward Hard Work
Whether you finished that 62 page report, or finally got your mountain of emails replied to, reward yourself for a job well done. If your work space allows, go for a 5 minute walk, or even have a piece of chocolate or candy. If it is a larger project that you finally completed, you can reward yourself by going out for dinner with your significant other, or going to see that movie that you both were dying to see. Rewarding yourself will boost your happiness and also make you work harder to complete the next task, so you can reward yourself again!
5. Think Positive
Easier said than done, am I right? However, this can be done in small steps throughout the day. You can think of how nice it will feel when you complete all your tasks on your task list, or maybe think of the piece of chocolate waiting for you as a reward for completing the task list. On your commute home, I would suggest you think of 1-2 good things that happened that day at work to boost your morale. They don’t need to be big things, they could be as small as your organized your desk, or you completed the rough outline for the project you are next working on, or even you had a very healthy lunch today. Recalling these good things will allow you to have the last thought of work before you get home to be a positive one, which will help your work/life balance and outside work relationships.
6. Make Your Space YOUR Space
Does your cubicle look like every other cubicle in your office? Same bland walls, same furniture – Well, change that! Make your office space unique to you (and still professional of course) by decorating it as much as possible (as long as your supervisors approve) and making it as relaxing or calming as possible. Add in a comfy chair, or maybe hand some artwork on the wall, or a famous quote that you live by. All of these will help you feel more comfortable, and people are generally more happy when they are comfortable.
7. Try to Limit Multitasking
Multitasking, while making you FEEL like you are accomplishing more, will actually end up wasting more time than saving. Your thoughts and focus will be spread across multiple directions, not allowing you to concentrate on each individual task. Instead of multitasking, you should practice better time management – Make a task list everyday, and check off the tasks once they are complete. Not only will this structure your day and let you know what needs to be done and prioritize accordingly, it will feel awesome to check off everything on your list. And, for those of us that have a job that will NEVER be finished, it gives us a sense of completion to the day.
8. Take Small Breathers Throughout the Day
I am talking about a 1-2 minute relaxing period, where you can meditate/close your eyes/calm yourself. If ever I am stuck on a problem or task, and don’t know how to solve it, I use this method to clear my mind and calm myself, so that when I look at the task again, it is with a fresh outlook. This doesn’t ALWAYS work, mind you, but it certainly helps. If your office allows it, go outside in the sun for a few minutes to get some fresh air and get that blood flowing throughout your body again.
9. Limit Time Spent With Negative Co-Workers
Similar to Tip #1, you want to try to avoid co-workers that are constantly complaining about how hard their job is, or how bad their outside work life is, or how many things they have to do on their to do list. It is OK to vent once in a while about things that are truly important, but if there are people in your office that seem negative in every interaction you have with them, it is best to avoid prolonged conversations with them when you can help it. This may feel like a harsh tip, but you will just have to trust me from experience on this one. Negativity can spread like a virus, best to cut it off at the source if you have the chance to.
10. Try to Think of Your After Work Activities
If after following the above 9 tips you still cannot find that happiness with work, then I would suggest obtaining your happiness on things that you will be doing after work. Maybe you will be going camping with your friends or family this weekend, or having a great holiday dinner with your favorite people in the world. Maybe it is just sitting on the couch and watching your favorite show, or going on a date with your significant other (or soon to be significant other). For you foodies out there, it could be thinking about that excellent meal you are going to be cooking when you get home from work. Whatever it is, whenever you start feeling down at work, just think of those after work activities to brighten up your day.
If you follow these 10 tips, and I can say with some certainty you will be happier at work, which will better your work relationships, career development, and productivity, not to mention your outside work relationships.