Being happy at work depends mostly on how much you like your job. But before you start looking for new employment, try implementing several of these smaller steps—they can boost your happiness as well.
1. Indulge in a modest splurge. For example, consider whether there are ways to spend money that would make a big difference. Could you invest in some desk accessories to help you stay organized? Could you replace an inconvenient lamp with something that works better?
2. Periodically, take time to deep-clean the loose papers that have piled up. I never do this until I specifically schedule a time, but am always amazed at the wonderful calm it brings.
3. Never say “yes” on the phone; instead, say, “I’ll get back to you.” When you’re actually speaking to someone, the desire to be accommodating is very strong, and can lead you to say “yes” without enough consideration.
4. Go outside at least once a day, and if possible, take a walk. The sunlight and activity are good for your focus, mood, and retention of information. Even if you can’t go outside, take a 10-minute break each hour. Studies show that the break boosts your retention level.
5. Try to make a lunch date with someone outside the office at least once a week.
6. Say “Good morning” to everyone.
7. Although some people believe it’s best to keep work life and personal life separate, and therefore avoid making friends with colleagues, for most people, having strong friendships makes work more fun. Science supports this: having close relationships is essential to happiness, strengthens the immune system, and reduces anxiety. Or, if you work alone, take time to mix with other people.Socializing boosts the moods of introverts, as well as extroverts.
8. Take care of difficult calls or emails as quickly as possible. Procrastinating just makes it harder; getting them done gives a big boost of relieved energy.
9. Be honest about how you’re spending your time. You feel overwhelmed, but are you really working hard? How much time do you spend surfing the internet, chatting on the phone, looking for things you’ve misplaced, or doing a task that’s really someone else’s job?
10. Lighten up.
About the Author
Gretchen Rubin started out in law. At Yale Law School, while serving as editor-in chief of the Yale Law Journal and clerking for Justice Sandra Day O-Connor, Gretchen realized that what she really wanted was to be a writer. Her #1 New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project, is a memoir of the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies and lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” Gretchen’s popular website and blog evolved from the many experiments she conducted while researching and writing the book. Gretchen lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Nancy Clark is CEO of WomensMedia.