Your happiness at work will depend mostly, of course, on how much you like your job and your co-workers. But, as Samuel Johnson observed, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.”
Here are some little things to consider that have helped me find more happiness at work. A few minor adjustments can give a real boost in mood and comfort. Even if these suggestions don’t relate directly to your particular job, you might be able to adapt the strategy for your workplace.
Your work space:
1. Check for eyestrain: put your hand to your forehead in a salute. If your eyes feel relieved, your space is too bright.
2. Get a good desk chair and take the time to adjust it properly. (A friend works at a big company where they have a person who specializes in this task!)
3. Sit up straight and lower your shoulders—every time I do, I instantly feel more energetic and cheerier.
4. Think about how your space could be more pleasant. Could you invest in some desk accessories to help stay organized? Could you replace that hideous lamp?
5. Get a phone headset. I resisted for a long time, because it looks so preposterous, but it’s really much more comfortable, and it lets me walk around when I’m on the phone, which boosts my energy. I also initially resisted the advice to …
6. Get additional monitors. I now have three monitors, and they make me so happy! The ability to have multiple pages up at once saves me a huge amount of time. (Back to #1: after I got my three monitors, I noticed that my face hurt. I finally realized that my three monitors were all set to maximum brightness, so I’d been squinting all day. Turning down the brightness levels fixed the problem.)
6. Don’t keep treats around. A handful of M&Ms each day will mean a weight gain five pounds by year’s end.
7. Periodically, take time to deep-clean the loose papers that have piled up. I usually do this specifically because I need the shot of the wonderful calm it brings.
8. Try to never say “yes” on the phone; instead, say, “I’ll get back to you.” When you’re actually speaking to someone, the desire to be accommodating is very strong, and can lead you to say “yes” without enough consideration.
9. Take care of difficult calls or emails as quickly as possible. Procrastinating just makes it harder; getting them done gives a big boost of relieved energy. (Here are some tips for making phone calls you don’t want to make.)
10. When accepting a responsibility, imagine that it’s something that you’ll have to do next week. That way you don’t agree to something just because it seems so far off that it doesn’t seem onerous.
11. Be honest about how you’re spending your time. You feel overwhelmed, but are you really working hard? How much time do you spend surfing the internet, chatting on the phone or with colleagues, looking for things you’ve misplaced, or doing a task that’s really someone else’s job?
12. Go outside at least once a day, and if possible, take a walk. The sunlight and activity is good for your focus, mood, and retention of information.
13. Even if you can’t go outside, take a ten-minute break each hour. Studies show that the break boosts your retention level.
14. Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
15. Let yourself stay ignorant of things you don’t need to know.
16. Try to make a lunch date with someone outside the office at least once a week.
17. This may be the hardest: figure out a way to control technology so you don’t feel distracted and hunted. Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.
18. Be nice to your co-workers. This is the right way to behave, and it will also serve your best interests, if you need that justification. In situation evocation, for example, we spark a response from people that reinforces a tendency we already have—for example, if I act irritable all the time, the people around me are probably going to treat me with less patience and helpfulness, which will, in turn, stoke my irritability.
What else? What are some other “little things” to boost happiness at work?
Originally published on The Happiness Project