For most of us, our working years extend from our 20s to well into our 60s, and our work occupies more than half of our waking hours during the week. So, if you’re miserable at work … you’re miserable. And the opposite is equally true. A happy eight-hour stretch at work, multiplied by five days a week and 52 weeks per year, translates into a generally happy person.
But there’s also a cascade effect to this math; enjoying your life more means less time spent wishing you were somewhere else, more time spent focusing on your tasks instead of the clock, better success with those tasks, and a generally faster-moving, higher-climbing career. So, with that in mind, here are a few small happiness boosters that may seem silly at first. But these simple moves can become regular habits that lead to a more enjoyable relationship with your work, and ultimately, a better life.
Cultivate your work friendships.
This doesn’t mean walking over to a potential “friend” and bending their ear for an hour each day when both of you would rather be concentrating on something else. Work friendships don’t have to be forced, complicated or awkward. Just build your new relationship around lunch. Ask a potential friend to have lunch with you. If they decline, ask again another time, until your regular or semi-regular lunch conversations become a welcome habit. Before long, your short interactions over a sandwich will become a pleasant interlude that brings both of you a daily hour of connection and happiness. Try not to eat alone at work if possible.
Take multiple short breaks throughout the day.
If your break periods are dictated by your manager, you take them when you can. But if you’re a salaried employee who works at a desk all day, you’re responsible for your own “breaks,” so try to take at least one every hour. Look away from the screen, stand up, take a short walk around, stretch your back, relax your eyes, have a cold drink and think about something else for a few minutes besides the task at hand. At least once a day, try to get out of the building and get some fresh air.
Decorate your workspace.
Decorating your workspace can affect your subconscious mind and mood in ways that make you happier at work and better at your job. Decorations make your space feel more private and proprietary (as if you own and control that space, even if you don’t). And a few photos of your loved ones can remind you why you’re here and why your work matters. Decorations and personal touches also send a message to your employers: You’re settled in, you’re engaged and committed, and you have no plans to leave. This can support a mutual sense of trust and connection.
For more on how to enjoy your days and hours on the job, talk to the career management experts at Extension.