No one ever feels completely content, fulfilled, and stimulated during every moment of every office day – but there are definitely little alterations to your work environment, schedule, and strategies that can help shift your mood to the positive side more often.
1. Save your favorite tasks for your least favorite time of day
Some people thrive in the morning, whereas others take hours to fully get their brains in gear. Some people get super sleepy right after lunch; others are re-energized. The key is to know yourself – there is no one best way or time for working that suits everyone. Once you get clear with yourself about which times of day you tend to be at your least effectual or unhappiest, do yourself a kindness by intentionally saving tasks or scheduling activities that you love or can do easily during those times. When you’re feeling up, you might be naturally more drawn to your favorite work things, but really, you should put your best, most positive energy into things that are difficult. Hard things only get harder when you attempt to tackle them during your weak parts of the day.
2. Knock out the annoying tasks first thing
We all have that thing we do where we look at our to-do list and avoid eye contact with certain tasks, like if we don’t look directly at them, they’ll cease to exist. Usually, they keep right on existing anyway. And putting off the things we must do that we don’t especially want to do just puts a dark little knot in your stomach all day. Your overall level of happiness will be much higher if you boldly knock out your least favorite to-dos early in the day and don’t have them looming over you.
3. Be smart about your caffeine intake
Coffee and I have a somewhat troubled relationship: I love it so much (maybe too much) and therein lies the problem. When I drink it, not only do I want to keep drinking it, I often need to. I switched to green tea during the workday, saving coffee as a weekend treat, years ago. I know that sounds insanely radical to workday coffee-drinkers but hear me out: Tea has less caffeine, which means you are less likely to suffer the dreaded crash. And since it has a lower amount of caffeine and is less acidic, you can drink more of it. I tend to nurse cups of green tea all day long, keeping my energy level at a constant, rather than suffering the ups and downs associated with coffee drinking, and I don’t feel gross and nerve-fried at the end of the day if I end up drinking a lot. Just something to consider.
4. Splurge on coffee or tea
Speaking of caffeine: Treat yourself. Spending a few extra bucks on an especially good bag of beans or tea is a minor expense that will pay off every day.
5. Find a “getaway zone” for small breaks
I firmly believe that one of the main reasons anyone still smokes cigarettes is just because it gives them an excuse to spend 5 minutes outside every hour or two. The truth is, you don’t need to kill yourself to take a moment to breathe when you need it. Whether it’s going outside, or to some space within your office (or home, if you work there), find an area that feels restful and restorative to you – and use it. Put magazine and water there, or play music. However you want to spend 5 minutes that will chill you out the most, that’s what you should do.
6. Get a work BFF
We can’t always choose who we work with, so of course it’s possible that you don’t click well with anyone in your office. But chances are, you have some avenue by which you can surround yourself with at least one person you like a lot. If you are in charge of hiring, hire yourself a bestie! Obviously, pick a qualified candidate who is capable of more than making you laugh, but there’s nothing wrong with making personal compatibility part of the job requirements.
If you work at a computer most of the day, it can be all too easy to lose yourself in what you’re doing and forget to move your body for hours on end. Make it a point to stand up and stretch, or walk (even to get water or visit the restroom) for a minute or two each hour. Your back and brain will thank you.
8. Look for flexibility in your schedule
Not every job affords the option to build a schedule that best suits your needs. We get that. But more and more, companies are wising up to the fact that not everyone works the same way, or works best at the same times of day, or in the same environment, and that very few people work at their optimal potential when chained to a desk from 9-to-5. Consequently, even companies that don’t make a point of identifying as a flexible work environment are now more likely to give you what you need – if you ask for it. Think about what conditions – working later in the day, or earlier, or working remotely a few days a week – would work best for you, and then ask. Come armed with strong arguments about what the actual return on their accommodation would be. Sure, they could shoot you down, but what if they didn’t?