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3 Surprising Things That Can Make You Happier at Work

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Do you suffer from the “Sunday night scaries” dreading the thought of Monday morning? Or count down the hours until you can finally log off yet another Zoom meeting? Or find yourself caught in a vicious cycle of work sucks?

If so, here are three surprising things that can make you happier at work.


Why? Procrastination helps you cull your to do list. How often have you looked at your to do list and seen for the hundredth time a task or project that has been there for weeks or months? Your procrastination around this item is informative.

So, when procrastination strikes ask:

How important is this task or project?

Will it enable you to achieve a goal?

Will it help you realize a strategic priority?

Does it drive revenue?

Does it require your unique skills, experiences and talents?

If the answer is no, remove it from your task list guilt free.

Do hard work.

The overwhelming project, the promotion that would require you to learn a new market segment or the opportunity to transfer to your firm’s London office all require hard work. And, hard work is typically fraught anxiety and stress, not happiness.

However, it is in the hard work, or what I call challenging or stretch opportunities, that we most often experience flow. Flow is the optimal state between too much stress and boredom. Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist, asserts that the flow state is one of the three main drivers of human happiness. When it gets too easy or too comfortable, you’re probably not in the flow.

Ask yourself:

What aspects of your work are too easy?

Where have you become too comfortable in your role?

How can you challenge yourself and create an opportunity to learn and grow?

Develop routines.

Conventional thinking says that routines are boring. So, how can something boring make you happier? Well, it’s not the routine tasks that make you happier, it is the time you gain when you routinize your tasks. Time you can spend on professional projects that energize and excite you, or with family and friends or pursing personal interests.

When you develop routines for the tasks you do the most frequently, they embed in your brain and create a pattern. As a result, you spend less time and attention on those tasks.

Consider routinizing the following tasks:

Email correspondence. Check email on a schedule. For example, morning, mid-morning, after lunch, afternoon and the end of the day. Use templates and signatures to standardize your responses.

Wardrobe and meal choices. For example, when Barack Obama was President, he limited his wardrobe options and had pre-set menu options. This enabled him to use his time and energy on higher-value decisions.

Embrace procrastination and use it to reengage with your work. Do hard work to find your flow and your happiness. And, develop routines and use the time to reinvest in your life.


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