How to be happier at work
Teams from London School of Economics and University of Sussex recently studied how happy people were during the day. Questions posed were simple: what are you doing, and how does it make you feel? From over 1 million responses came a pretty upsetting conclusion: illness is the only thing that makes us unhappier than being at work.
Now some good news...
With us spending most of our week at work it might seem like we are all doomed to unhappiness. But fear not, there are many ways to make your work a happier place to be.
To be happier at work - plan your day
When you are not 100% in love with your job, it’s easy to get distracted. Planning your day can help make best use of your time and create a satisfying sense of an honest day’s work done.
Prioritise the tasks you need to do and then allocate specific time for them. Work out when you feel you are at your best (e.g. first thing in the morning) and schedule difficult tasks for when your brain will be in top form. Schedule more mundane tasks for the periods when you usually feel a lack of focus (e.g. the post-lunch energy slump).
To be happier at work – switch off email
Instead of allowing email to dictate where your attention is focused, allocate time for reviewing and responding to email. And then do something radical: switch off your email! This will allow you to focus on the work in hand. It will also stop you jumping from task to task.
To be happier at work - personalise your workspace
Make your space your own with a favourite picture or two, a small plant or motivational image around you. Examples could be a picture of the beach at your next holiday destination or one of you and your kids. Where the office ‘clear desk policy’ killjoys are in control, a customised desktop image can be helpful. Again load up motivational and inspirational images that will remind you why you signed up for this job.
Finally… leave your desk
‘Sitting is the new smoking’ we are told as scientists discover more reasons why sitting at a desk is really bad for you. So break the monotony and get up for a walk.
Walk to the water cooler, kitchen or bathroom. Try and use the ones furthest from your desk. Get out for a brisk walk at lunchtime. Ask a colleague to join you for a healthy way to catch up.
We do not have to just accept that work makes us unhappy – we can actively do things about it. For some of us issues at work may be more serious leading to relationship problems, anxiety, stress or depression. In those cases, the help of a professional counsellor or workplace support service is essential.
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About Marion Laird
Marion Laird is national development director for The Spark Counselling – a leading provider of relationship counselling in Scotland. A trained counsellor, Marion is responsible for the delivery of counselling across The Spark’s 12 locations. A member of the BACP and COSCA, Marion is involved in several government initiatives.