You look at your watch. The minute hand hasn’t moved much since you last checked 30 seconds ago – it’s still 4:45. Somehow, time seems to be working against you today. Like an impatient schoolboy, you wait. And some more.
Begrudgingly, you get back to work.
If you don’t really love what you do, this probably is a regular occurrence. Lunch breaks feel like holidays, and off-days feel like a vacation.
If you could, you’d just pack everything up and walk away. But you obviously can’t.
You grind out another day at the office, unhappy, exhausted and disillusioned. And this affects your work negatively every single day.
A recent study conducted at the University of Warwick found unhappy employees to be 10% less productive, while their happier counterparts showed a 12% increase in productivity.
Not all organizations invest heavily in the happiness of their employees. If that’s the case, you’re solely in charge of your own happiness.
So, what steps do you take?
1. Improve Your Morning Mood
Believe it or not, even a few bad minutes in the morning can ruin your entire work day.
Your toast gets burnt. You miss the bus. Or maybe you just get stuck in traffic.
Research shows that your morning mood directly affects productivity in the workplace.
Make time before you get to work to do something you truly enjoy. It can be anything – working out in the morning, getting a tasty bagel or a nice cup of coffee from the place just across the street or even looking at cute cat videos online.
Whatever makes you feel good, do it. And then walk into the office with a smile on your face, ready to take on the world.
2. Take More Breaks
Plugging away at a task or project for extended periods of time might just bore you senseless. Boredom makes you unfocused, and your productivity suffers.
The solution? Take more breaks.
Bursts of productivity interspersed with small breaks help you escape the monotony of your job.
Eat a snack, take a walk outside or just sit back and stretch your legs – small breaks are extremely relaxing, and you feel happier and more focused when you get back to work.
Remember: Strategically squeeze your breaks into your work schedule, and keep them organized, because taking breaks at random may just be another distraction you don’t need.
3. Engage your Co-Workers Positively
According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, your social support network is the “greatest predictor” of happiness in times of stress.
Your workplace may not be the best in terms of the social support you get, but Shawn says that the key to “sustained happiness” lies in the social support you provide.
Organize small activities around the office. Invite work colleagues to lunch and eat at place you’ve never been before.
Do you see a colleague stressing out over an overwhelming amount of work? Pick up their slack and help them out.
Good relations and positive engagement with your co-workers leads to a higher degree of job satisfaction and increased productivity.
In turn, you make friends you can trust and rely on in times of need. A win-win situation, wouldn’t you say?
4. Have Something to Look Forward to After Work
Part of being unhappy is going back to the same old boring routine after a hard day’s work.
Go home. Eat dinner. Sleep. Repeat.
Mix it up. Have something to look forward to after work – every day if possible. It can be a new hobby you’ve recently taken up, a movie with your significant other or even a couple of beers with your work colleagues.
Activities like these are great stress-busters too, and you’ll power through work knowing that you have a fun evening ahead of you.
5. Set Aside Time to Reflect
If I asked you, “What was the best thing that happened to you at work today?” you’d probably be hard-pressed to find an answer.
Sure, it’s hard to find positives in a dull, monotonous job. You’d be better off if you did though.
Try this: reserve 15 minutes at the end of the work day to reflect and jot down every single positive, big or small (even the tiniest of them.)
Maintain a paper journal for this, or just fill up the calendar on your phone.
Reflecting on your day reveals that you’re achieving something (however small) every day, and that builds confidence. As a result, you start putting in more effort into your work, further boosting productivity.
Doing what you love is great, but if you can’t love what you do, follow these steps and work will never be a drag ever again.
Viraj Deshpande is a writer and musician from Mumbai. When he’s not daydreaming about becoming a rockstar, Viraj writes engaging content for clients and businesses. You can find him on Twitter and InstaFreelancer.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.