Top Tips: Happier Days at Work... Is that an Oxymoron?

Most of us have wondered if we are on the right path, career-wise. Most of us have thought about sliding that letter of resignation to an flummoxed boss and leaving to a triumphant soundtrack… Don’t pretend you haven’t!

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It’s a thought that crosses everyone’s mind, especially during a really long and boring (and obviously irrelevant) meeting. When those moments of boredom and ennui strikes, do you think about what you actually do for a living and whether certain aspects of it bring you unbridled (well mild) joy?

It’s a question you’ve been trained to not really think about; when was the last time you thought about your work that wasn’t tied to a performance or appraisal?

Think about it; most of the time, when we think about our jobs, it’s at two or three stages of your career; when you first start, when you are thinking of progression (internally or externally) or if you plan to (or have) rage quit. Whilst the latter may seem extreme and for some, worthwhile, on reflection on what makes fun for you might be the reasonable step forward, Killing In The Name will have to wait for a while.

So, how do you find the joy and productivity in a role you may already have?

Your relationship with work is personal and not the same is everyone else, for many of us, it easily to feel disengaged, even if we do enjoy the line of work you do. So much so that as many as one in five of us in the UK intend of leaving their current places of work within the next two years.
It’s an international problem too, in the US, a third of workers also feel the same way.

If you are certain you’re on the right career path and feel a little jaded and burnout from work, why not take a moment to find the joy (and therefore productivity) in your daily tasks and build from there, without the risk of burnout and without “f**k you I won;t do what you tell me…“ playing on a loop every time you see your boss or colleagues.

When you see people happy and thriving in their roles (and you’ve overcome the urge to throttle them), you look at why they are so pleased to be there. For many, it’s often because they have created a unique position that they enjoy; so, seek out the things that inspire you to work.

A study conducted by US medical non-profit Mayo Clinic identified that physicians who spend around 20% working on tasks they find meaningful are at a greater risk of not burning out; interestingly, however the study also highlighted that that those who spend more than 20% of their on those tasks would see a marginal increase in effect, so it’s not always a bonus to do the fun things!

To put it succinctly, if you have too much of a good (work) thing, you could still burnout just as easily. So, take a long think about what you really enjoy doing at work and try to pepper your day with small tasks that would be all that you would need to succeed.

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Be realistic with yourself and others in to create this day, peppered with fun tasks. Create an open and honest dialogue with your colleagues and management. “if you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life.” [is something you always hear] But the verb is wrong,” Ashley Goodall, co-author of the book Nine Lies About Work. states, “the job was there at the beginning and then over time they transform the contents of that job.” Start to transform by building and nurturing a good relationship with the people you work with; nothing can be more disheartening than being squashed and prodded on your commute to find a hostile and unwelcoming environment when you get there and let’s be honest, you spend on average more than 40 hours a week with these people, so it may as well be a pleasant!

Try to think about what you actually enjoy about work, write a list (my favourite) of things you like at about the job and the things that make you want to call in sick.

Then try to focus on what it is about each task that is abhorrent or is exciting. What could you do to improve the dire tasks of your day? Could it be streamlining a particular task? Do you think a task is convoluted or unnecessary?

Be sure about what could improve the task and work with management to help make it suck less. All that can say realistically is no.

It may feel a little juvenile but listing all these things, but it actually helps you to understand yourself on a much deeper level. Meaning you can to articulate your emotions in a way that is both healthy and professional; allowing you to get exactly what you want from your job, without the need for Rage Against The Machine being played loudly behind you.