7 ways to be happy at work

Experts say it's a combo of knowing what you're doing in the moment and feeling like your work is meaningful


Umnia Shahid April 20, 2015

KARACHI: It’s Monday again - time to wean off the weekend and head to work. Why do most of us never look forward to going to the office? What’s the key to workplace happiness? If you ask experts, they’ll tell you that it's a combo of knowing what you're doing in the moment and feeling like your work is meaningful.

As compiled from Reader’s Digest, Business Insider, inc.com and Time magazine, try practicing these seven verified techniques to perk yourself up at work:

 

1. Start the day on a good note

PHOTO: AKAMAIHD

How you feel at sunrise affects how you feel at work for the rest of the day. In a study published in the journal The Science of Work, researchers analysed the moods and performance of customer service representatives. Those who were in a good mood in the morning were more productive during the day and experienced more positive interactions with clients. Make it a point to do something in the morning that makes you feel good. Take a few minutes to savour your morning chai or enjoy the Life and Style pages of The Express Tribune during naashta. Pause and enjoy the moments, focusing on what you feel as you enjoy your chai, instead of gulping it down as you rush to your desk.

 

2. Make fewer decisions

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One of the hardest aspects of any job – be it a CEO or a chef is making dozens of decisions daily. Decision fatigue is real: each decision you make depletes your cognitive resources, making each future decision more difficult. This can rapidly exhaust you and make you feel run down. Put some parts of your day on autopilot. For instance, consume the same thing for lunch or breakfast for a week, then change it up. Steve Jobs said that he wore the same outfit daily so that he wouldn’t spend energy deciding what to wear. Before weighing in on something at work, ask yourself if it’s high impact and whether you have a strong opinion about it. If you say no to both then you might as well not weigh in on a decision.

 

3. Help a colleague

PHOTO: WORK.CHRON

Being helpful towards others makes you happier and lending a hand to your colleagues makes you more contented at work. A recent study found that people in their mid-30s who had earlier rated helping others at work as important reported feeling happier when asked three decades later. Helping your co-workers seems to create a virtuous cycle; according to research, happier workers help their colleagues 33 per cent more than those who aren’t happy. You don’t have to do anything heroic to help. Grab your colleague’s favourite biscuits on your way back or provide an ear to their rant. Offer to do something simple for them and reap some happiness benefits.

 

4. Don't pick up the phone on the first ring

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As bizarre as it sounds, it’s a practice you need to start today. "Instead of picking up the phone on the first ring, breathe and wait until the third ring," recommends Sharon Salzberg, bestselling author of new book, Real Happiness at Work. By waiting for those two rings, you're adding in much-needed breathing space into an action that would otherwise just be a reaction. Same goes for email, wait to click send.

"Don't click send on the email right away — breathe and reread it," she says. "The classic example would be getting irate and sending something with hostility. Life doesn't give us that many unsend buttons, so give some space to see if we've crafted a conversation we actually want."

 

5. Leave personal problems at home

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It’s easier said than done, but it’s imperative to follow this one rule to be at ease at work. Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out, says, "When your personal life is in tumult, a lot of emotional hijacking goes on. Emotions consume you and stress exhausts you." When you’re overburdened with an inordinate amount of stress at home, it will seem like your work is never ending, you will watch the clock, and you will be distracted from being more 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.

 

6. Take a breather

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It's incredibly easy to get burned out during the workday. That's why you need to take a minute and breathe before moving on to your next task. Salzberg reveals that "without some breathing space in the face of constant demands, we won't be creative, competent, or cheerful." She also adds that by not taking a break, "we won't get along with others as well, and we won't take criticism without the possibility of imploding. It is a must to control the level of our daily stress." Researchers suggest that employees also need to take time off to recharge from the stress of work. In fact, taking a vacation not only relieves stress and recharges us; it can also improve our overall health and make us more productive at work.

 

7. Don't multitask

PHOTO: CALLANETICSSTUDIO

Regardless of what you’ve heard about juggling tasks, multitasking is never effective. Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University claims that multitasking "wastes more time than it saves." He also states that it decreases concentration and creativity. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the amount of work you're trying to juggle through multitasking, focus on one task at a time. When you get halfway through your day, drink a cup of coffee or chai, and only focus on drinking the beverage. "Just drink the coffee — rather than being on a conference call, checking your email, and having a TV on mute so you can read the crawl," Salzberg says, adding "It's another way of breaking that high-pressured momentum." Even though multitasking might feel more efficient, it's not.

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