How happy are you at work? Fulfilled and content? Or disgruntled and considering a move elsewhere? Whichever end of the spectrum you sit, the International Week of Happiness at Work (from 23rd September) offers a chance to reflect on what being happy at work means to you. So, how can you can become happier, whether you work for yourself or someone else?
The manifesto for the International Week of Happiness at Work outlines an ideal that includes the following definition: “Happiness at work is about meaningful work, healthy relationships, development, and having fun. Let’s create a workplace to stimulate fun, appreciation, positive feedback, awesome challenges, trust, meaningful results, and own responsibilities.”
Your definition of happiness at work may vary according to what motivates and challenges you. While you may have little or no control over workplace culture as a whole – unless you’re self-employed – you can play your individual part in it. You have control over how you respond to working within a challenging dynamic. You have control over taking responsibility for yourself and your decisions. And you have control over how to create meaning in what you do. Feeling in control can have a direct effect on how happy you feel at work.
With our aim to help you reflect on how to make more of your time at work – to be happier and have a sense of feeling more in control – we offer the following suggestions…
Six Ways To Feel Happier At Work
Manage your time better
Not having enough time to complete your tasks is number one on the list of stressors at work. Ask yourself how good you are at managing your time. Do you jump up at your first alarm in the morning, ready for the day – or are you pressing the snooze button several times too many? Do you prepare your bag/outfit/lunch the night before – or are you rushing last minute to get out the door? Do you stay focused on your outcomes within your working day – or do you become distracted with emails, colleague chats, internet searches etc?
If you’re concerned about how you manage your time, it might help to start a written log (in a journal or app) for a couple of weeks to note how you spend your time. You may be surprised how much time you waste on certain aspects of your work. This knowledge may give you an incentive to rein in that time and begin to work more effectively on the goals that matter most you.
Work to your personal rhythms
Once you’ve worked out how you spend your time, it can help to consider when and how you work at your best. Is morning your optimum concentration period? Then schedule in low-intensity tasks (such as responding to emails) in the afternoon. Does your system only kick-start after several coffees and lunch? Ensure to schedule key meetings in the afternoon. Know your high and low points – and plan your day accordingly.
Create a positive workspace
Research shows that spending some time in nature – parks or open spaces – during the working day can benefit mental health. If you don’t have that luxury, because you work in an urban area, other research suggests that having artwork showing nature scenes can also help workers relax and focus. Whatever works for you: choose some imagery that calms you and have it pinned to your laptop or desk.
Think about balance
Don’t let yourself escalate into burnout. Think about productivity rather than activity. You don’t have to respond to email or be at the beck and call of your clients/employers 24/7. You can have a life too. Take some moments away from your desk during your working day for a walk or a breather. Take some time away from your email by putting in an out-of-office reply, or agreeing with yourself only to reply within working hours.
Aim for clarity
Bosses who are unclear about their intentions, and who leave employees struggling to know what to do, can be a major cause of stress. Inefficient managers who are vague or ineffective can leave you wondering what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Have a conversation with your key stakeholders about what they expect from you. Expectations are key in what can be delivered within a certain timeframe. Seek support from a coach or mentor if unsure how to have a conversation with a boss you experience as remote or busy or ineffective. If you’ve got something to give to the organisation you work for then it’s worth a conversation with your manager to elicit support to help you achieve your goals and theirs.
Re-evaluate the meaning of work
Some people live to work. Other people work to live. How important is work in your life? Is work taking up most of your waking hours? Are you working more but achieving less? What does success look to you? And how are you achieving that success? Take a moment to reflect on what brings you meaning. If you’re not happy, at all, then consider why you’re doing what you’re doing for eight hours a day.
We’ll leave you with a reflection from author Mark Twain: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
If work stresses are becoming to much for you and you feel you’re heading for overwhelm or burnout, you may benefit from speaking to a therapist to help you regain balance and head towards happiness. Get in touch with us to make your first appointment by calling 020 8673 4545 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .We have sessions available seven days a week at our Clapham and Tooting centres. Our first weekday appointment is 7am, and our last one is 9pm – helping you fit therapy around your work commitments.