Sometimes I write about a particular topic to help me through something I’m having trouble with. This is definitely one of those posts!
This post was triggered by the fact that I’m struggling being back in the office (after taking extended leave). This struggle lead me to thinking how the situation can be improved.
It had me asking myself the question – how can I be happier at work?
The tips below are based from many years of experience working across several companies both private and government, small and large.
Hopefully my 12 tips on how to be happy at work can help other people as well.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Any compensation I may receive, does not affect the price you pay.
Reconnect with the people you get on with
Often one of the great things about our jobs is the people we work with.
If you are feeling stuck in a rut at work, focus on reconnecting with the people around you that you like and get on well with.
If you are not already, take more of an interest in their lives. Have a laugh together. Ask them out for lunch or a catch up after work.
Reach out, it could make all the difference.
Related post – How Would Your Work Colleagues Describe You?
Listen to music if possible
I know for a lot of people, particularly if you work in customer service, this is unfortunately not an option.
If however you are an office worker, this may be something that can improve the quality of your day. Make sure you choose upbeat music that you enjoy. Listen to something that will put a spring in your step.
Most jobs involve some form of mundane, repetitive work. Listening to music during these particular tasks can make them more enjoyable. I often listen to music in my current role. I only wear one earpiece, so I can easily answer the phone or respond to anyone that comes to my desk for assistance. The volume of the music is also at a low level, again so I can hear everything going on around me.
For me personally I find this a pleasurable part of my work day.
If I really need to concentrate, say in transcribing complicated minutes for example, I do not have music playing. I focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand.
Related post – My 7 Motivational Songs
Don’t burn out with too many additional hours
Some offices have a culture of working back late, even if they are not particularly busy.
Some people may even do this because they feel it looks like they are working harder.
Don’t fall into this trap. If you need to work back, do it. Just don’t stay back because the other guy in your section has not gone home yet and you think it will look bad if you leave before them.
Related post – Are You Too Reliable at Work?
Focus on the parts of your job that you like
Some tasks can be just plain boring or monotonous.
Overall there is generally something or hopefully a lot of somethings that we enjoy doing in our roles. Whatever that turns out to be for you, try to do more of it.
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Related post – Why Do You Work?
Get out at lunchtime
I know a lot of people don’t take lunch breaks and don’t move away from their desks at lunchtime. This is understandable if you have a deadline looming and you simply must work through lunch to get the task in on time.
This should not however be the case every day. Since I have been saving, I take my lunch and eat it at my desk but I still take a break from working at lunchtime.
If you can’t remember the last time you left the office at lunchtime, are stressed out, or generally having problems at work – get out of the office and release some of the pressure.
Do whatever calms you – read a book, look around the shops, go for a walk in the park or simply go somewhere to eat your lunch.
Related post – Have You Been All Work and No Play Lately?
Seek out a challenge
Sometimes we can love our jobs, and respect the company we work for and yet still feel a bit flat.
That’s when you need to seek out new challenges.
Do some training that will take you out of your comfort zone, if the training budget will allow it. Suggest cross-training with another staff member so that you can learn new skills. See what secondments exist outside of your division.
Could you challenge yourself by sitting in a higher role for several weeks while someone is on leave or by working on a special project?
Perhaps trying a different role altogether may be just what you need. Think about your overall goals for your career and explore the possibilities and options available to you.
Related post – The 12 Types of People You Will Talk to About Work
Initiate group social interactions
Hopefully, your office already has some form of social interaction whether it be morning teas on Friday (as we do in my office) or people getting together for drinks after work.
If your group isn’t into drinks after work (this isn’t often convenient for staff who have young children at home to tend to) perhaps suggest a get-together over coffee or lunch during the day.
I have worked for a few companies in the past with work hard/play hard philosophies. They were extremely social and a lot of fun. Admittedly this was several years ago when budgets were less tight.
Now many companies foster a work hard/no play attitude. While this may be more economical (and I appreciate that in many companies money is a serious concern) this strategy will not amount to happy staff. There needs to be a middle ground between being frivolous and money conscious.
Related post – Are You Reliable at Work?
Take a break from the people you work with
In some situations where staff work long hours and then also socialize together, the situation may develop where you get a bit too much familiarity and togetherness.
Make sure you spend enough time away from work and the people you work with. You need to ensure you have friends outside of the office.
Related post – How to Deal with Social Cliques at Work
If you need to – zone out the corporate babble
I’m sure some managers wouldn’t like this one. But let’s face it, some companies can really lay it on a thick with the change incentives, the PowerPoint presentations, and the speeches about how great it is to work there.
If these points are actually true, then by all means you will be more than happy to hear them.
If however, they sound a bit like lip service, sometimes it can be easier to simply zone them out a bit.
I’m not saying don’t listen. Of course, you should listen to your company’s news and updates. Just don’t go letting the corporate hype bend you out of shape.
Related post – Are You Suffering From Corporate Restructure Fatigue
Avoid the people you don’t get along with
Ok, I must admit, this one is being way too optimistic.
Sometimes there can be that one person in our office that simply drives us nuts. Most likely they are also someone you can not avoid.
Whether we like it or not we have to make the most of working with that person. Be professional and assertive, but resist any passive-aggressive behavior that might raise its ugly head, particularly when you are feeling stressed or vulnerable.
Related post – What to Do When You Hate Your Job
Don’t whinge at work
If you are unhappy at work, I would recommend talking to a close trustworthy friend that does not work in your company.
If you do have one friend at work that you can trust, then by all means talk to them but don’t complain all over the office to everyone who will listen.
This only breeds a negative environment and could have some unpleasant repercussions for you.
Related post – 3 Serious Communication Mistakes You Could be Making at Work
Have hobbies and interests of your own outside of work
Make sure you have outside interests. Time can sometimes be a factor in finding time for yourself (particularly if you have a partner and children) but being kind to yourself will pay off in the end.
I notice my enjoyment at work has a direct correlation with how much writing I do in my own time each week. If I don’t achieve what I want to in my personal business life, I find work that much more hard going.
Related post – 10 Ways to Unwind After a Stressful Day at Work
We spend a lot of our time at work and we owe it to ourselves and the companies we work for to make that time as productive, professional, and pleasant as possible.
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Here’s to being happy at work! 🙂
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