How to be happier at work
Work. We all have to go and make a living somehow, but it really helps when our job doesn’t encroach upon on our wellbeing and sense of self, right?
In 2013, one global study Gallup found that unhappy employees outnumbered happy ones by two to one worldwide. The research spanned 142 countries and contained approximately 180 million employees and found that, shockingly, only “13 percent of employees worldwide are happily engaged at work.” What?!
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some professional insight from those in a range of careers, at O2 and beyond. Because life is way too short to feel anything less than content during our working day.
Start the day with a resolve
If you lack focus when it comes to structuring your day, try starting your day with a resolve (which is basically making a morning pledge) that will help keep you on track. Sharon Salzburg, author of Real Happiness At Work, recommended this exact technique in a blog post she wrote. She reckons we should start our day by writing down a resolve, such as ‘”today I will become more aware of one particular action.””
Then we need to place our attention on it throughout the day and be sure we make it happen. “This will broaden your sense of self-awareness and can help you to identify aspects of your work personality that you have previously ignored, such as what you struggle with and what you truly enjoy” she promises. Sounds good to us.
Break it up
As Elisabeth Rochford, Social Impact Manager at O2 told us, she believes a good break is crucial to her productivity during the working day. “I spend most of the day sitting at a desk looking at a screen so taking breaks is massively important,” she said.
“Moving around every so often – going for a short stroll, a cup of tea, some fresh air – can have an amazing effect on my mood and re-energises me. I also drink a lot of water which I find great in many ways but it’s also a good nudge technique to get me to go for a stroll (even if it’s only to the water fountain). Taking a break from your desk for a minute can help to put things into perspective.”
Never under-estimate the power of the humble break, guys…
Make fewer decisions
Decision-making can be draining, especially if you have a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders. Nataly Kogan, the founder of Happier, a company focused on helping people get more out of their life noted that too many choices during the working day can lead to “decision fatigue” which she believes can “deplete your cognitive resources, making each future decision more difficult. This can quickly exhaust you and make you feel run down.” Yikes.
For those overwhelmed by work options, Nataly recommends simplifying the tasks you can simplify i.e. by meal-prepping and having the same thing for lunch each day, or picking outfits for work the night before.
“Put some parts of your day on autopilot” she said in a blog post on her site. “Steve Jobs said that he wore the same outfit daily so that he wouldn’t spend energy deciding what to wear. Take yourself out of a few decisions. Before weighing in on something at work, ask yourself if 1) it’s high impact and 2) you have a strong opinion about it. If you say “no” to both, then this might be a great opportunity to not weigh in on a decision.” Same skirt for a week, anyone?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own little tasks at work, but stepping outside of ourselves and helping others can be really beneficial – not only to the whole work environment, but to our own wellbeing, too. The video below is from Jacqueline Way, founder of 365 Give who gave an inspiring TEDx talk on why humans are hard-wired to help people on a regular basis.
And a study from UW–Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs from 2013 showed that being good to others is good for the office, for the same reasons. La Follette professor Donald Moynihan said in a blog post that “our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”
And Zahrah from O2′s Go Think Big says she chose a job that involves helping others on a regular basis. “I work as the Engagement Co-ordinator as part of O2′s corporate social responsibility program. I work with young people, elevating their experiences with us for content, and helping run events that make a real change to their lives” she said. “I’d definitely recommend finding a job that allows you to really make a difference, I love it!”
Acknowledge your progress
Feel like a hamster on a wheel at work? Why not ask your boss for help tracking your progress? The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer is all about how motivation in the workplace can result in seriously content employees. This is because we crave feeling as if we’re moving forward and making meaningful change at in our jobs. As Teresa said in a Forbes article: “[For our book] we compared the days on which our participants had their very best inner work life experiences with their very worst days. What we found was that, of all the events that occur on best days, one stood out well above the rest – simply making progress on meaningful work.”
Try and leave problems at home
You may like chatting with your colleagues over a coffee about your break-up or nightmare weekend story, but as Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out, told CBS News, “hen your personal life is in tumult, a lot of emotional hijacking goes on.” This basically means that “emotions consume you and stress exhausts you.” When this happens, obviously you won’t get as much done and you’ll be less productive. While it’s easy for your personal life to carry over into your professional life, make sure that you attend to personal matters before heading out for the workday.