10 ways to make work awesome

Friday, January 25, 2013 0 , , , ,

Let’s face it: sometimes work is not the greatest. In fact, some days it doesn’t seem great in any way at all. Some days, you start to wonder why you even have a job if it only pays the bills which you only have to pay because you need to keep your home so you can get a good night’s sleep for work. It is a viscous cycle. 

Work is great in one way, however: it keeps us from doing things we shouldn’t do, like lie in bed all day with bags of chips and the TV going, or, I don’t know, getting a tattoo or robbing a bank. It also makes us contributing members of society, blah blah blah. I am grateful for my job for those reasons, and also because I know jobs are hot commodities these days. Jobs are like what Beanie Babies were in the nineties; everybody wants one. Unlike Beanie Babies, however, they will probably not go away after a few years. These are the facts of life. These are the lessons we learn from Beanie Babies.

So how can we make work awesome? Notice, this is active and not passive. Things that would obviously make work better are things like: good hair days and frequent raises: things we cannot necessarily control. In this post, I would like to focus on the variables at work that we can control.

#1. Break up your day into segments. Dividing is the first step to conquering. Mentally block your day into three sections: pre-lunch, post-lunch, post-post lunch. Notice each segment basically revolves around lunch. That will come up later.

#2. Make something good happen in each of those sections. Take breakfast to work for pre-lunch, or make a big ritual out of getting coffee and drinking it at your desk while you check your emails and messages, and glance at your calendar for your day. In post-lunch, take a short walk and think about nothing work-related. Imagine a vacation you hope to take in ten years. Think about what plans you have for the evening. Think about anything but work. In the post-post-lunch section, I suggest caffeine. Or chocolate. Or both.

#3. Take a moment to organize your desk. I like to do this once in the morning, and again in the afternoon. For people like me, I can never underestimate the importance of less clutter with regard to my sanity.
#4. Lunch break. As I made clear in step #1, your day revolves around lunch, so make it good. Here is where I admit to being very hypocritical because I am a serial desk-eater. Oftentimes, the day is so busy I don’t have time for anything other than eating something simple while my eyes scroll through emails. However, on the days when I step away from my desk and read a book while eating something I was actually looking forward to, the day is much more pleasant. Lunch should not be so big that it puts you to sleep, but if you include a few of your favorite morsels, pre-lunch period will be all the sweeter.
#5. Adjust your chair. I have no qualms about being a hypocrite here, because I have adjusted my chair, and I know that doing so makes all the difference in the world. Your feet should rest fully on the ground, and your elbows should be level with your desk. Your head should not be tilted up or down, but looking straight ahead. Do it.
#6. Be aware of your posture. Slumping shoulders, even slightly, can cause severe neck and shoulder pain. Let work pay the bills, not your chiropractor.

#7. Break for tea during pre-lunch, post-lunch, or post-post lunch. Tea and coffee are both associated with rest and relaxation, but I find that just drinking coffee all day long gives me a false sense of alertness. Tea is my wonderful solution. I keep a little jar of coconut milk in the office fridge to add to my tea to make my tea breaks even more special.

#8. Feeling put together. If I am preoccupied with the small stain on my sleeve or my shoes pinching my feet, it just adds needless stress to my day. Come prepared, and leave things at your desk for emergencies (like a pair of flats).

#9. Smile and greet everyone by name as you walk through the halls. At my place of work this is kind of a requirement (hint: I do not work at Disney), but it really does promote an environment of cheerfulness, whether or not we mean it or not.

#10. Make time for yourself in the mornings before work. At my job in the Senate, I did not have to leave the house until 8:00. That meant I could get up at six and have two whole hours to read, take a walk if I fancied, make breakfast, slowly drink coffee, and get ready for work. These days, I have to leave earlier than 8:00, but I try to wake up early enough to not be rushed. When I have a few moments to quietly read, check blogs, or eat breakfast, I am reminded that life is not work. And that is important.

And that’s what I have for now. What gets you through the work day? Do you have better ideas? Do share.

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