In a recent article in Forbes, Five Essential Steps to Have a Good Day, the author begins by suggesting that you begin your day by setting your intentions. This implies more than just making a list. It seems to come down to deciding how you want your day to go, maybe even guiding your day by choosing in advance how you will react, what you will do or not do, and even to some extent, how other people will respond to you. In other words, having a good day comes down to your own attitude.
Here are 15 little attitude tweaks that can transform your workday. Some are inspired by the Forbes article, and others just seem to make intuitive sense:
- SET YOUR INTENTIONS
To have a good day at work, you have to set your intentions for the day. Do you intend to have a day free of conflict? Do you intend to have a day when you and your boss and/or co-workers are not butting heads? Do you intend to have a day where you smile more? Do you intend to have a day where the challenges and stresses of the job do not get to you as much as they usually do? Do you intend to have a day where you will not let yourself give in to every single distraction there is? If yes, you probably will do better to set these intentions before the day even begins. The best time to set the intentions for each day, is probably the night before. How do you set your intentions? By simply telling yourself what you will stand for and accept from yourself and others in the next 24 hours, and sticking to it.
- DECIDE IF IT REALLY REALLY MATTER. IF NOT, DON’T LET WORRYING RUIN YOUR DAY
We all have a tendency to worry. We may worry about different things and to a different degree, but it is human nature to worry at least a little bit. The problem is that worry is one of the best ways to ruin a perfectly good day. When you worry, you become immobile which affects your work. The problem starts in your head but then it spreads throughout your entire body and then you find that you are not productive anymore, or, you are less productive than you want to be. The way to conquer worrying is to ask yourself “is this really important? Does it really matter in the long run?” If whatever you are worrying about will not matter in six months or a year, then the problem is very temporary and by worrying about it, you are allowing a temporary issue to potentially have a permanent impact on your life; not to mention ruin a perfectly good day. If it won’t matter in the near future, don’t let it ruin your day today!
- Establish a little routine that you do that gives you pleasure and do it regularly
Little routines at work can make your day more enjoyable. These routines should obviously be work-appropriate routines, so that rules out workplace quickies in the lavatory with your office crush. But you can establish other routines, like always eating at a certain time at a certain table in the cafeteria; going to the gym at lunchtime; having a coffee break with your office mate at a certain time; wearing a certain color on certain days of the week; going for after work drinks on Fridays; taking on online lunch-hour-long course in a foreign language on Wednesdays; or doing whatever it is that brings you pleasure. It is you who have to create and shape your good day.
- Keep your mouth shut
Gossiping is toxic and when you engage in gossiping in the office, eventually it begins to have a negative impact on your own life. Note that those who bring you news about others are also likely to take news from you to others. If you choose to keep your mouth shut and refuse to participate in gossip, eventually the gossip mongers will stop bringing gossip to you. This could make you feel ostracized in the beginning. But in the long run, it will add up to a lot of better, less toxic days for yourself.
- BE PRESENT
It is impossible for a day to be “great” if you are not experiencing it on all its levels. The idea is not to mentally medicate the day to eternity. The idea is to live every day and accept it for its form and texture. Let yourself feel the day. Be present in it. What are the lessons it wants you to learn? What are the steps it wants you to take? What does every stress point it digs at trying to tell you? Every Day has a message. Every day has a purpose. Ask yourself “what is the purpose of this day?” and “what do I need to be present here for?” and “why am I supposed to be here right now?”
- TAKE LITTLE BREAKS
Another way to have a good day at work is to take little breaks during the day. One or two breaks per workday is a minimum. Some people get away with and perhaps even need more than that. Every time you walk to the rest room, that is a little break. Every time you walk to the coffee machine, it’s a little break. Sometimes you may walk to a co-worker’s cubicle (not to gossip but to catch up or just shoot the breeze for a few minutes) . Taking little breaks is a great way to improve the quality of your day.
- SHARE A COFFEE WITH CO-WORKERS
Coffee breaks are really nice especially when you share them with your co-workers. It is not clear why coffee breaks are so pleasurable at work. Maybe because everyone gets a collective reboot with the caffeine, and it redirects the energy in the office in a positive way. Who know? What is clear is that most people derive at least a little bit of pleasure from having a coffee break with their colleagues at some point during the day.
- MAKE A HAND-WRITTEN LIST AND FOLLOW IT
Making a hand-written list is really old school and for the modern workers, it may not be something they find very useful in this digital age, but it is very effective for a lot of people in getting things done. It is not clear why writing out a “to do” list is so much more effective than doing a planning in your digital calendar. But, not only is it more effective, lists can help you to “set your intentions” almost in stone. Writing down your intentions and goals etches them into your subconscious mind a lot deeper than if you type it into your portable phone or desktop. When you write out goals and intentions that are aimed at “improving” your life and your day, things just seem to fall into place a lot easier.
- MAKE YOUR DESK MAKE SENSE
Clutter is a big problem and can cause stress for a lot of people. It is true that some people do better when there is a lot of confusion around them. They like a cluttered desk because somehow, this makes them feel more focused. But for the majority of people, clutter and happiness are inversely related. Organization is a lot more conducive to happiness and well being and, obviously, where there is happiness and well-being, your day just goes better.
- LEAVE EARLY AT LEAST ONCE PER WEEK
To have a better day, you sometimes have to play “hookie”. Is that the word we used in the old days for “taking a day off from school?” Whatever the word is, the concept is the same. To make your day better, sometimes, you have to leave work early. Literally, just pack it up and go home, or go see a film, or meet with friends.
- HAVE A PICNIC AT YOUR DESK
This might sound a little bit silly but it sure can bring a little bit of good fun to your work day. It’s all about setting intentions, once again. If once per week you have your picnic day where you enjoy a sandwich (it doesn’t have to be solo but it can be) at your desk, it gives you something to look forward to, and it makes the day better. You can pack real picnic-friendly food like sandwiches, potato chips, soda (if you dare) and potato salad. It’s all up to you what you bring to your own lunch picnic—just so long as it give you pleasure.
- PRACTICE FEARLESSNESS
A lot of times, your day is crappy because you spend the whole time being bogged down by your fears. There is nothing worse than living in fear. It makes everything feel so much worse. This is not to say that your fears are not legitimate. But it’s a question of scope. Because even if you are afraid of losing your job, it does not mean it will prevent this from happening. So fear is not a solution. If there is a part of you that is afraid you’re on the verge of being fired, start to think about solutions before this even happens. Look for other jobs. Create other income streams. Confront your boss and ask for assurances or information that will allow you to plan for the inevitable. Take control, in other words. Don’t just sitting their marinating in fear. It does nothing but ruin a perfectly good day.
- REWIRE YOUR THINKING
Your brain can be re-wired to thinking more positively and you should focus on doing just that. Because the way you think has a direct impact on the quality of your life, and your life is a series of days. So, the way you think every day will have a direct impact on the long-term quality of the life you have. Think of your mind like a garden. Plant the right seeds in it. Give it water and nutrients, enough sun and shade and you will have a beautiful harvest.
- PLAN YOUR WEEKEND OVER 3 DAYS
You don’t have to wait till Saturday morning to figure out what you will do during the weekend. You can start to plan your weekend during the weekday while you are sitting at your desk. This is a good little mind trick that can bring you a great deal of secret joy at work. Also, if you appreciate that having your job is the reason you are able to even have enough resources to enjoy activities on the weekend, you will be more inclined to enjoy the days leading to the weekend.
- BE GRATEFUL YOU HAVE A JOB
Being grateful you have a job is something you should be constantly aware of because without a job, most of us will be in some serious difficulties. It may not be your dream job, but rather than focus on all the reasons you hate your job, focus on all the reasons you are grateful for your job. You will find that your day improves exponentially when you do that.
Hopefully, these 15 ideas will help jump-start your work week with enthusiasm, intention and gratitude. There are many other techniques you can employ, of course. This list is hardly exhaustive. It is only a starting point and teaser to motivate you to improve the quality of your working day. Best of luck.