The research is in and being sick is the only thing that makes us more unhappy than work. Apologies if you are reading this at work as we have probably made your day that little bit harder. But fear not, we are offering up 5 ways to help make you feel happier at work. But first, some background.
Being unhappy at work – the research
A team from London School of Economics and University of Sussex recently studied how happy people were at random times of the day. Using an app called Mappiness, random questions were sent to users about what they were doing and how it made them feel. From over a million responses the study came to a pretty stark conclusion: illness is the only thing that makes us more unhappy than being at work.
With that in mind, let’s move straight on to the good news: 5 ways to be happier at work.
1. Happier at work – plan your day
When you are not 100% loving your job, it can be 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 that day and then allocate specific time for them. Work out when you feel you are at your best during the working day. For some that will be the morning, others later in the day. Schedule difficult tasks that require problem solving for those peak periods when your brain will be in top form. Then schedule more mundane tasks for the periods when you usually feel a lack of focus (e.g. the post-lunch energy slump or the 4pm-5pm drag).
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Happier at work – reward yourself
With seemingly perpetual economic uncertainty a general ethos of ‘do more with less’ exists in an increasing proportion of organisations. This means you are less likely to be rewarded for the work you do and more likely to be told ‘well it’s what you are paid to do’.
So reward your own achievements – both big and small. When you finish a significant project, treat yourself to something you really enjoy like a round of golf, a nice meal out or a spa treatment.
Setting a reward for yourself ahead of time can also contribute to enhancing motivation. This is especially the case when it is one of those pieces of work you would much rather avoid doing.
5. Happier at work – leave your desk
Anyone who spends any time on the internet will know that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ – a phrase coined by Dr. James Levine, the inventor of the treadmill desk. Scientists are discovering more and more reasons why sitting at a desk for over 7 hours a day is really bad for you (in fact being in any one position, whether that is sitting down or standing up, is bad for you!). So break the monotony and get up for a walk from time to time.
Get up regularly for a 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 and perhaps ask a colleague to join you for a healthy way to catch up. If you work in a multi-storey office, walk down a couple of floors and back up to get the blood flowing.
Movement will help your physical health and help to clear your mind. Research suggests exercise can improve your mental focus, memory and productivity too. That’s a helpful one to remember if you have a boss who thinks being chained to your desk all day equals high levels of productivity!
Relationship difficulties at work
Tips on how to be happier at work can help you enjoy your working week more. But for some people feelings of anxiety and depression related to their place of work require support from a professional counsellor.
Counselling with The Spark can help you deal with difficult relationships or issues in the workplace. Read more about relationship counselling or freephone 0808 802 0050 to talk about the best counselling option for you.
Alternatively complete an online counselling enquiry form and we will contact you at a time of your choosing.