In the historic economic times we’re experiencing right now, many of you working Moms may be telling yourself you’re lucky to have a job….even as you are feeling stressed out, overworked, and unappreciated. Maybe you weren’t that thrilled with your job before, but don’t want to launch a job search in this market. Or perhaps you’re the one left behind after your department has been slashed, and you’re trying to figure out how to take on more responsibility in the same hours of the day.
Or – maybe you were one of those recently laid off, and are trying to put some structure in your day to provide a routine and feel somewhat in a groove even though your daily responsibilities have changed dramatically. Or – maybe you aren’t “in the workforce” at all, but instead work inside the home, nurturing and caring for children (who often forget to say a thank you!).
No matter what your profession or employment status, here are 10 Tips to Being Happier and More Productive each day.
#1: Choose happiness. First of all, remember that happiness is a choice! If you decide ahead of time to respond to situations with emotions like happiness, humor, enthusiasm, gratitude, kindness and a positive outlook, you can determine the kind of day you will have. And for those of us who tend toward being taskmasters? Guess what – you don’t have to be serious all the time! Choose to enjoy your time at work. Find others who are like this and spread positive energy. It’s contagious and it grows! Try avoiding gossip and negative chat. It can be tempting, but it’s negative, and it doesn’t serve anyone well.
#2 Plan your day. Establish a routine of planning your week and your day. Planning beforehand allows you to make sure you will use your hours most productively. Plan your week out on Sunday evening. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed – and in fact, if it is, you have missed the point. Just list the 5 most important goals for the week, and then no more than 3 to be accomplished in any one day. In the morning, be sure to start your day an extra 15 minutes early to go over your list. Mid-week, check your list to see if you need to revise it. Always have a plan for work, then work the plan.
#3 Include physical activity on a work day. One suggestion for feeling more productive and happier at work is to exercise on a work day. Studies show that if you exercise before work or during your lunch break, you are more likely to be less stressed and you’re better equipped to handle whatever problems come your way. Don’t worry, this doesn’t even need to be strenuous. Just getting your blood circulating and heart rate up a bit (associated with activity – not a harrowing encounter with your boss or a co-worker!) can improve your mood and ability to handle surprise situations.
#4 Only check your email TWICE a day. You know how easy it is to get sucked into email…and then look up an hour later and still have the same to-do list you did before (or even bigger). Confine your email checking to 2 or 3 batches during the day. Less time spent multi-tasking the better, and dedicating time to email “sessions” will help you keep your mind focused on important tasks at other points in the day. Many time management pros suggest checking first thing in the morning, mid-day, and then later in the afternoon.
#5 Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t wait to be TOLD what to do. Jump in and collaborate with others. Think creatively about how you can work with others to get a better result than if the task was done alone. Or, if you are feeling overwhelmed, ask someone to help you prioritize. Sometimes a five minute conversation with an expert or someone who has been in a similar situation can save you hours of work.
#6 Cultivate compassion for negative people. We all have had those peoople at work (or at your kid’s school, or at other places you visit daily) that you just don’t want to deal with because they are so prickly. Well, people who are negative are normally that way for a reason. There may be something going on that you don’t know about. Try not to judge them and try to be patient and kind. When you meet someone who is negative, you can either be affected by their negativity or you can try to influence them. Again, it’s about choice. Choose to stay positive. I know it’s hard to do this, but with practice it comes easier and easier.
#7 Learn from criticism. Don’t get bent out of shape and resent anyone who criticizes you or gives you suggestions. Sometimes people you don’t like give you more HONEST opinions of you than people who like you. Don’t take it personally – even if it IS personal. Listen, process, and consider. If you don’t know whether to believe the feedback, ask someone else (not a friend!) to give you their honest opinion. Then decide what positive action you want to take.
#8 Take breaks daily – and ALL your vacation time. Make sure you actually stop working and take a break. Taking a break allows your mind to refr
esh and relax for a moment or two and actually increases your productivity during the day. If you are someone who tends to work straight through the day hunched over your desk, ask someone to make sure to distract you. Even if it is a quick trip to the vending machine for a soda, let your mind disengage for a few minutes. And just like your breaks and lunch – vacation time is needed to clear your head and allow you some relaxation.
#9 Share your results. It’s not bragging if you are ensuring that you get credit for the hard work that you do. This is one of the hardest things for working women to do, because we tend to assume if we do a good job it will get noticed. But working hard and getting no credit (or not enough credit) will only result in you being frustrated and resentful. Make sure you communicate accomplishments as well as progress toward goals to those around you.
#10 Adapt. Finally, one of the most important things to remember – especially in these uncertain times – is to adapt. Those who can’t adapt, become extinct. Adaptation is the number one survival skill of living organisms. The same goes for companies, groups and individuals. Be open to change. Give it a chance. Adapt to new things while using your experience to guide you. Keeping an open mind and embracing new ways to do things can make you one of the essential employees in a company because you learn quick and embrace change.
So if you’re struggling to get motivated each day to complete your responsibilities and meet deadlines, consider implementing these tips. At the least, by taking positive action, you’ll feel more in control of your day, which improves your mood and therefore your outcomes.