9 Strategies for Enjoying Work More
Work, hey? We spend most of our waking hours either getting ready for it, travelling to it, doing it, thinking about it or recovering from it - so here are 9 strategies for getting pleasure out of it. They help me enjoy my workday, and I hope they'll help with yours too.
1. Write a Work 'To Do' List
I used to muddle through my workdays, until I learned that writing a list of objectives for every day cleared my head and helped me focus on what I wanted to achieve. Of course, there will always be obstacles - for instance, my daily objective might be to pitch great stories and write every piece of content available, but then a huge batch of videos might arrive and need transcoding. If you're waylaid, you may need to bump some of the items from your schedule to the next day, but you'll still know where you're going and how to get there.
2. Schedule in Treats
I get up at 7am and don't return until 7.15pm - that's a huge chunk of time, so having stuff to look forward to is essential. Now that it's summer, I enjoy a refreshing iced coffee every morning, buying it on the way to work, and also generally buy the sunshine granola bowl, super fruit salad and artichoke baguette from Pret, along with their delicious bar of salted dark chocolate. If it's sunny, I'll go out for a walk at lunchtime and enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin. Maybe I'll do something fun in the evening, or call a friend at lunchtime, but I always make sure there are little pleasurable moments scattered throughout the day - and it helps that I enjoy my work, too.
3. Socialise with Your Colleagues
I'm lucky to work with great people. Your colleagues might not be your favourite cup of hot beverage, but there are many reasons to build a rapport with them: you'll feel happier, and so will they; conversation will break up the workday; you'll find out more about their job and understand more about how your company operates; they might make a joke you find funny; you might need a favour from them someday, and getting on with them will help. Plus you'll learn who's joining and who's leaving the company much more quickly, along with any changes in strategy, if you're friendly and sociable. But the main reason is just to be nice, giving without expecting. And if they're not nice back - well, that's more to do with them than you.
4. Work, Don't Shirk...
It doesn't matter if your boss is on holiday, the department's deserted or it's Friday: you work for your own self-respect, no one else's. If you're not working, you'll know and will feel guilty and ashamed. Sometimes I have to work months ahead in the schedule because I write so fast, otherwise I'd have nothing to do; sometimes no one knows what I'm doing. Working hard makes me feel better about myself, because I know I'm doing my absolute best for my career, for my company, and for my and my daughter's future - and that's the best reward of all.
5. ... But Plan Breaks, Too
My Apple Watch prompts me to get up and walk around every hour. I reckon five minutes out of an hour to go and get a coffee, go to the toilet and stretch your legs is essential. It's not healthy to sit still for too long, and small breaks are very welcome. I always take a lunch break too, ideally going out, because getting outside for a few minutes, especially in the sunshine, can make all the difference to the way you feel. You'll return to your work feeling refreshed and relaxed, and you'll probably work more effectively for it.
6. Be Thankful
I'm lucky enough to love writing for a living - but even if you don't love what you do, be thankful that you have a job. I was unemployed for a few years when my daughter was little, and have never forgotten how bleak it was. Having somewhere to go and something to do gives your life purpose and structure - and that's before we get to the security of a regular pay cheque. (Incidentally, if you don't love what you do, it might be time to think about a career change. You only have one life, and spending the majority of it doing something you don't enjoy doesn't make sense.)
7. Set Yourself Challenges
I don't have KPIs in my role, so I set myself little challenges every day, for instance, 'write the copy to go alongside the rest of our Refinery29 content by 2pm'. Along with my work To Do list, it makes me feel as though I've achieved something when I can tick the items off - and hopefully it could do the same for you. It also gives you bullet points to put on your LinkedIn profile when you look back over the challenges and To Do list - as they jog your memory as to what you've done in the past year! And challenges give you structure and focus.
8. Get Inspired
Instagram is full of the best inspirational quotes. Whatever your feelings about them, it's worth getting past any cynicism, as there's a lot of very useful information contained in them - however cheesy you might think they are! One of my favourite things to do is browse Instagram for work-based wisdom, then collate it into Collections. I find they motivate me greatly and propel me through my workdays. I keep a browser tab open with my inspirational quotes Collection, and glance at it throughout the day whenever I'm flagging or feeling tired. It's like a series of virtual cheerleaders, cheering me on.
9. Make Your Desk Beautiful
You spend at least eight hours a day sitting at your desk, so making sure it's clean, tidy and beautiful is essential. A cluttered desk can often mean a cluttered mind, and tidying it can improve your outlook. On my desk, I have: a much-treasured picture of me and my daughter with our arms around each other, in a rose gold frame; two pretty white orchids in bloom; a green chamaedorea plant in a copper pot, which I water often; a tiny silver watering can; and a gorgeous notebook and rose gold pen. I also work on a lovely gold MacBook. You'll have different tastes from me, but seriously, channelling your mum: tidy your desk!