Down with Stress! Increase Your Work Happiness
You may be thinking, “Yeah, sure, it’s easy to SAY I’m going to do better this year, but how can I achieve it? What’s the best way to ensure that I’m successful in 2015?”
Unless you already dance into the office each day, prioritizing work happiness and learning how to be happier at work is the most important place to start. But you’re busy and drained, and that’s often the root of the problem. So how can you conquer work stress and increase your own workplace happiness without getting stressed and miserable about it?
Reset your brain. Before you get to work, instead of focusing on everything you have to do today, think about what you like best about your job. Maybe there are particular tasks you find fun, maybe your team is great to work with, maybe your vacation is coming up soon. Finding positive aspects of work life to focus on helps you charge up to face the day.
Look at your own big picture. Daily grind aside, pay attention to how your job is contributing to your own growth and development. Are you still learning interesting new things and applying them? Are you getting everything you need? Or do you need better resources or more training to get a better handle on your job, become a stronger manager, or reach toward your own future goals?
Clean your desk. I know, I know… there’s no time, but sneak it in somewhere anyway. If you’ve got a swamp of papers scattered around, make a list of what’s “on” your desk so you can tackle them one by one, then put everything away. Most of us instantly start feeling better and less stressed in a clean environment, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. And while “creative clutter” may have its place in life, teetering piles of paperwork rarely count.
Prioritize. Next, clean out your brain. Jot down everything that’s swimming around in there: what’s past due, what you’re way behind on, what calls need to be made, which employees need to be coached, what you’re worried about. Once you’ve made a mess, use it as the basis for a new list. This time, prioritize. Sure, everything on there is important – but which items can wait another day, and which cannot?
Give yourself the gift of focus. When your project pile could be scaled by mountaineers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially in a world that claims multitasking is always a virtue. But switching off the noise and picking one bite-sized, achievable goal to focus on first can make work feel manageable again. If your most pressing task is huge, cut off a manageable chunk and start there. If you need to, write it down on a post-it to-do list all by itself, and cross it out with great enthusiasm when you finish. Then rinse and repeat!
Don’t let problems fester. Got an issue that’s making you miserable, even when you’re not thinking about it? Maybe you need to bring something serious up with the doctor, or perhaps there’s a worrisome employee issue you’ve been putting off addressing (give CEDR a call! We can help you figure out how). As Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.” Get your worst nightmare over with early – you’ll feel better afterward.
Make tiny good habits. Sometimes huge projects feel downright unapproachable – such as an endless set of incomprehensible patient files you inherited from a previous OM, or all those past-due accounts you know need to be straightened out and re-billed. Instead of thinking of your largest project as a Herculean task that you would need to (but can’t) spend a full week on, resolve to work on it for 10 minutes and only 10 minutes when you first get in to work every morning, or right before you leave. With constant effort but without the pressure, you’ll feel more virtuous, get more done, and sometimes you’ll even keep working a bit longer when you find you’re on a roll.
Take a breather. Getting a handle on your workload may make you feel happier in the “now,” but we also know that proper rest and proper exercise is just as, if not more, important for increasing health and happiness, and reducing stress. From taking a moment to breathe more deeply and look beyond your computer screen, to getting a brief walk in during breaks, to simply standing up more often, every physical effort you can make is good for your body and your mental health. It’s a chemical fact!
Practice positivity. More and more evidence has been indicating that how we perceive the world impacts how we feel about it. People who describe themselves as optimists or think of themselves as “lucky” see opportunities that others miss. Plus, happy people are more productive. Challenge yourself to recast obstacles as opportunities, even if it doesn’t come naturally. And pay attention to what motivates you, at work and outside the office, so you can work more of that into your daily routines.
And yes – it’s OK to focus on your own work happiness first! You may be in charge of a team, but it’s no good preaching positivity and rainbows until you banish the little grey raincloud hovering over your own head.
Ready to get started? Great! Go forth and conquer the world. And, while you’re at it…have a great day.