If given a choice between coming into work or taking a paid day off, I’m pretty sure just about everyone would choose the day off. Sadly, most of us are stuck in jobs that we don’t really enjoy, but we all have to pay the bills somehow, right? We don’t get nearly as many days off as we’d like, but there are lots of small ways to try and make your work environment a more positive one, even if it isn’t exactly your dream job. Take a look at these 10 tips for staying positive at work:
1.Plan your tasks early.
Most jobs require quite a lot of multitasking, which can get quite stressful. Instead of haphazardly trying to get tasks done as they are thrown at you, plan ahead. Spend the first 10-15 minutes after you arrive at work prioritizing and planning your schedule for the day. Make sure to also check your email first thing to see if you’ve received any additional tasks that were unplanned for, so you don’t get thrown off later in the day. Having at least an outline of the day’s tasks will greatly help you to reduce stress.
2. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
Give yourself credit where it’s due for the things you accomplish. Your bosses or colleagues might not notice or express appreciation for the work you do–they are busy too, after all–but take the time to appreciate yourself. When you accomplish something big, find a way to reward yourself, perhaps by taking a 10-minute break to relax or by celebrating after work with some friends.
3. Take all of your breaks.
Every employee is entitled to a certain amount of breaks during the day. It’s easy to get engrossed in your work or to feel like you’re too busy to take your scheduled breaks, but the truth is you’ll be more productive if you take them. A 10- or 15- minute break here and there isn’t going to throw off your whole day, but spending a few minutes to grab a snack, to chat up a coworker, or to go for a brisk walk outside will clear your head and make you more productive afterward.
4. Have a snack stash.
At my old job, I used to keep a stash of instant ramen under my desk for days that I was just too busy to find food. It wasn’t a healthy, filling, or delicious option, but it was often all I had time for during the day. Don’t repeat my mistake. Prepare your lunch before work or even the night before so you have something yummy to look forward to–it just might brighten your whole day. It also wouldn’t hurt to stash a few of your favorite snacks in your purse to bring to work; a quick break to eat something good will restore your energy and reset your mood.
5. Set short-term and long-term goals.
Do you have goals at work? You should. Take a few minutes to figure out what you want to accomplish at work. Set short-term goals, like finishing routine tasks by a certain time each morning. More importantly, though, set long-term goals. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is a really cliche question, but it is still important to ask yourself that. If you plan to stay with the company, set goals related to promotions and pay raises. If it’s more of a temporary job, aim to leave a great impression and earn a glowing letter of recommendation. Accomplishing goals, short term or long term, will leave you feeling super proud and good about yourself, and will make your job feel less pointless.
6. Decorate your work space.
If you have your own desk, cubicle or office, why not really make it yours? Bring a few objects from home to decorate your space and make it a little less gloomy. Having photos of your family, boyfriend, or pets around will remind you of why you’re there and what you’re working for. Bring in a stuffed animal to sit on your desk and make it feel more homey. Print out some funny quotes to tape to your computer monitor for a laugh when you need it. Jobs can seem so impersonal at times, but you can negate that to a degree by personalizing your work area.
7. Get to know your coworkers.
Your coworkers can be your friends, too! Even if most of them are a generation older or younger than you or just don’t seem to have anything in common with you, make an effort to get to know them. The best job that I ever had was one where I worked for a small company where all of us coworkers knew each other. I looked forward to seeing their faces every morning, even if I didn’t look forward to my actual job. I grew to love my coworkers and even my bosses treated me like family, and it made the daily grind much more worthwhile. Don’t just shut yourself away at work, socialize and befriend your fellow employees.
8. Don’t take criticism personally.
One bit of criticism on something we worked hard on could be enough to ruin our entire work week, but you don’t have to let it. When your boss corrects your work or asks you to redo something, try not to take it to heart. We all mess up, and sometimes it’s easy to misinterpret each other’s expectations. When you receive criticism, don’t see it as a personal dig but rather see it for what it really is–your boss is trying to help you to do a better job. Don’t harbor a grudge over getting corrected; after all, your boss has probably forgotten about it already.
9. Celebrate special days.
We all love to find excuses to celebrate things. If it’s your birthday (or someone else’s), bring a box of cookies to share with everyone. They’ll all love you for it, and it’s a great way to brighten the day. When there is a holiday coming up, bring the holiday spirit to your office. Decorate your space with Christmas-themed objects for December, bring in heart shaped cookies in February, or even get cards to give the coworkers you are close to!
10. Help others at work.
Helping other people always feels good. So, if you have a coworker who’s obviously struggling with the workload, offer to help. Take the time to help them do a better job; it’ll save you some pain in the long run and you’ll both feel better for it. If a coworker is freaking out about a deadline and you don’t have anything important to do, ask if you can lighten their load. If everyone helps each other get things done, the work environment will be much more positive for it.
You don’t have to dread going into work! It’s a part of life and we all have to do it, so help yourself by making it a more positive experience. There are so many ways to accomplish this! Try applying these tips to your work life and see how much better your work environment can become.