Whether you mildly dislike or outright hate your job, negative attitude about the place you have to spend between eight and ten hours every working day is going to make the dislike or hate even more pronounced.
We suppose that you already know by now that you can train your brain to think whatever you order it to, including how to have a positive attitude about just about every aspect of your life, work included. As always, we have extensively searched the internet for the best, most practical and most reasonable advice about how to get yourself out of pessimistic, grumpy, I-hate-the-world hole you dug out for yourself and jump into “Yes, I am happy” place, even if that place is your workplace. As some researchers have suggested, we spend 57% of our waking time at work during a working life of 46 years so you might as well make it a happy time.
Here are the ways to stay positive at work, in no particular order but with a very particular wish that they work for you….
1. Happiness is a choice
You choose either to be miserable or happy. If you think our approach to happiness is too simplistic, please consider the following: we can control up to 40% of our happiness, since the remaining 60% are thought to be genetically or parentally predetermined. Psychologist William James said that “the greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.” Even if you don’t believe that achieving happiness means simply changing your attitude, give it a try. You have virtually nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain. As far as applying this to your workplace, why don’t you concentrate on the aspects of your work that you actually don’t mind or even like. That’s a good starting point.
2. Be professionally courageous
We are sure that there were quite a few times when you envisaged yourself getting into your boss’ office and asking for a pay rise or a promotion or more interesting work or another colleague to work with. And you stopped a few feet short of the door. Why? You conjured up in your mind the reasons why they would turn you down and got disheartened even before you entered their office. This is where positive attitude can do wonders. Walk into your boss’s office with the resolve to make your workplace a better place, to get what you what and be courageous asking for it. Again, you have very little to lose (the worst case scenario could be your boss saying “no” and you continuing doing the same work you’ve been doing so far).
3. Avoid negative co-workers or so-called energy vampires
who can have a very deep impact on your psyche by constantly having negative conversations, gossiping or projecting their unhappiness and frustration onto you. Likewise, surround yourself with the people whose positive energy will rub off on you in the best way possible. You might learn a lot from such people and make your positivity soar even more.
4. Identify the cause of your negative attitude towards work
Could it be that you took this job only because of money because there are mouths to feed and bills pay? Did you settle for this job because there was nothing else available at the time? Was it good at the beginning and then deteriorated over time? Is your family situation making you unhappy and you are projecting that unhappiness in your workplace? Are you stressed and overworked? Do you have a stress-reliever when you get home from work – a hobby, a recreational activity, an inspirational project and if you don’t, why don’t you (not having enough time is not a valid excuse, manage your time better and you will have time)? The commuting to your job is too long and strenuous? You are not resting / sleeping / eating / exercising properly and you are chronically tired? Your co-workers / bosses are making your workplace hell on earth? After conducting a dialogue with yourself about the issues that are causing your unhappiness at work, and identifying these issues, you’ll be half way through to resolving them. The key is being honest to yourself, honest about your problems and analyzing the sequence of events which had led to the current situation.
5. Efficient time usage
Oh, the elusive time management! There isn’t a more difficult thing to manage than time (some would argue children, but for the sake of the topic we’ll say time). So, are you making most of your time? How much of your work time is spent on doing nothing, namely staring at the computer screen and letting your mind wander? The point is to work smarter, not harder. There is an interesting concept about time you should consider. Experts say that there are two types of time – clock time and real time. Clock time is the standard time we measure in seconds, minutes and hours, while real time is relative time and it is not defined by clocks. The first category (the clock time) is irrelevant to time management since you live in real time, i.e. a world in which time flies when you are having fun or drags out when you are doing something tedious. The bottom line is that real time is mental and, as such, you are the master of it. You can choose to sabotage and self-limit yourself and say “I don’t have enough time” or “I have plenty of time to finish this”. It’s all between your ears.
6. Organize, organize, organize (and stick to it)
Take at least half an hour each day to plan your day, hour to hour. Take five minutes before each telephone call or a job task to envisage what kind of result you want to accomplish. Later, spend five minutes analyzing whether you have achieved the goal you have set for yourself. If you haven’t, what were you missing? If needn’t be, put up “Do not disturb” sign on your office door when you have urgent work to be done. Do not give any time to distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Viber, Instagram or whatever social media is out there, which is designed to steal time away from you. And remember, you are not perfect and it is impossible to get everything done.
7. Have short but meaningful breaks
Have you heard of the term “ultradian rhythm”? Scientists have found out that our bodies operate by the same 90-minute-rhythm during the day, namely that we are designed to work hard 90 minutes and then we need a 10-minute-break because if we continue working after the said 90 minutes without taking a short break, our concentration, mental capabilities and stamina will start to deteriorate. We need to renew our energy after 90 minutes of work and in order to do that, we need to take ourselves away from our work station, and either walk, stretch, have a cup of coffee, breathe deeply, listen to music. Whichever you choose, make it meaningful and efficient.
8. Inquire what is happening at work
Don’t wait to be given information, ask for it. Many people complain that their bosses and other co-workers are keeping them out of the loop about what’s going on at work and that they are often excluded from a decision-making process. Do not be a passive observer, waiting for your boss to fill you up with know-how and information relevant to your work. Your boss does not know what you don’t know. So ask… Specific, clear, to the point questions… Seek out information that is crucial for your work. Set up an information network and utilize it. Once you receive the required information, you are in charge of it, and you will decide how to put it to good use for yourself and your collective.
9. Avoid office politics
Office politics is unavoidable. Surely, at certain point, you will be asked to take sides in this or that dispute or get involved, even involuntarily, in power struggle. The key is to remain focused on what needs to be done and the most efficient way of doing it. Make sure that you don’t get involved in idle chatter which takes away from your productivity. By all means, avoid gossip and backbiting, personality characterizations, chit-chat about co-workers’ habits, behaviours, weaknesses or appearance. If you are cornered into having such conversation, try to change the subject.
10. Do not overburden yourself with tasks
Surprisingly, experts say that multi-tasking will not get you where you want to be and that by doing more things at once you actually achieve the opposite effect of the desired one. Believe us, multi-tasking does not work and here is why:
- You are not actually multi-tasking, but rather task-switching. Experts say that our brains do not have an infinite amount of attention and productivity. Multi-tasking is, actually, contrary to productivity because your attention is overstretched and you can never really focus on just one activity and doing it properly.
- Multi-tasking is not a time-saving activity. Actually, it will take you more time to finish two projects / tasks simultaneously than one. Experts advise that you work in batches like send all your emails or finish all your phone calls at once.
- It has been proven that switching between tasks usually ends up in a 40% loss of your productivity. A French study has shown that your brain can handle two tasks at the same time without any problem, but add a third one and it will become overwhelmed.
- Of course, there is the issue of stress which grows exponentially as the number of tasks you need to complete increases.
- By multi-tasking you are not noticing the important things or rather don’t see the proverbial wood for the trees. The Western Washington University conducted a study in 2009 which showed that 75% of college students who walked across a campus square while talking on their mobile phones did not notice a clown riding a unicycle nearby.
11. Handle criticism properly
Remember, you are not the one being criticized, your work is. Use the feedback you get to improve your work. Alison Green, author of the Ask a Manager blog, explains: “People too often take criticism as a personal attack, or as a signal that all the things they’ve done right aren’t being appreciated,” Green explains. Not all criticism is bad, and sometimes it can provide feedback that’s valuable to your success.
12. Deal with the boring tasks first. Every job has them –
the mind-numbing activities that you simply have to perform in order to get the job done. With this, there is no other way than to grab the bull by its horns and handle these excruciatingly boring tasks first. Get them out of the way first thing in the morning, and your day at work will not look as tedious as you thought.
13. While commuting, listen to music / audio-books / podcasts /motivational speakers that inspire you and put you in good mood
Commuting to your work can be as tedious as work itself. Stuck in a traffic jam with hundreds of tired, angry or impatient drivers is no fun. So, why don’t you try to make the whole commuting experience less painful by listening to the music or audio-books or podcasts that make you feel energized and happy?! Your commute will feel shorter, you actually might learn something, and you might drastically improve your mood by rocking out to your favourite songs. If you have always wanted to learn a foreign language, here is the perfect chance for you to do so. If you are using a train to get to your work place, you can use that time to catch up on sleep or read your favourite novel. Trust us, spending some time without your gadgets (laptops, mobile phones and similar) will benefit both your mental and physical health.
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