Problem 1: High demands & deadlines are making you feel overwhelmed
- You get to work and already you are slammed with that task you didn't finish yesterday as well as 3 more dinging in your inbox.....and you wanted to make happy hour tonight.
- Simple techniques such as these fall under the umbrella of "mindfulness" practice. Mindfulness is about reorienting yourself to the present moment instead of letting your mind dwell in the past or worry about the future (which is unfortunately how we spend most of our time). Engaging in mindfulness practice has been shown to lead to many benefits, physiological and psychological, and can even improve productivity. See if you can make intentional efforts to reorient your attention, calm your mind & body, and tackle one piece of one task at one time. Then on to the next!
Problem 2: Facebook is just too interesting and look! There's a bird outside and oops, you've gotten nothing done.
- Distractions are everywhere and suddenly they’re even more interesting when you have a really painful task to complete.
- Instead of mindlessly eating all day, mindfully plan to have that handful of chocolate covered coffee beans at your 11am & 3pm slumps after ACTUALLY getting 2 solid hours of work done! Then you can take a break and relax. Not to mention, getting something done will make you feel good, which will increase your motivation to get more stuff done. And so the cycle continues (and it now includes chocolate!).
Problem 3: It all feels pointless and you feel unmotivated. Time drags on. Why are you even there?!
- It’s easy to lose track of your goals, especially if they are more long-term in nature and work is boring. That makes motivation is almost non-existent.
- Maybe you’re at your job strictly to make money for the other parts of your life. Maybe this job is just a stepping-stone to a job you actually want later down the road. Maybe you don’t even know what you want. Regardless, remind yourself of why you are there. Envision something you want down to small details and connect what you are doing now to that image. Use that as motivation and mindfully bring yourself back to the task with the intention of getting it done.
Problem 4: Annoying Co-workers
- “If he makes that noise one more time…”
- “She’s seriously at my desk again?”
- “That thing he said was actually really offensive…”
- Usually when we allow little things build up, we’re looking at them only from our favorite perspective: ours. We forget to consider the big picture and we are easily irritated. Maybe he’s having high anxiety today (thus, the tapping); maybe she needs some extra support; maybe he actually didn't mean it the way you took it. And even if it is the worse case scenario (e.g., he taps carelessly all the time; she doesn't understand boundaries; he actually meant to hurt you) actively communicate your needs in an open, honest, and caring way to be understood and effectively influence co-worker behavior without the close-quarters drama!
Problem 5: You didn't get time for breakfast, you don't like your outfit, & you got mean-mugged by your co-worker because you were 20-minutes late.
- All of these things go back to one problem: Not enough time in the morning. Is there ever enough time?!
- This simple trick will set you up for success. You can plan your outfit better, get time for breakfast and coffee, and you are more likely to be on time (which will make you feel better about yourself). You can even use some extra time in the morning to exercise (imagine having that checked off your list for the day!) or have a quiet morning meditation. Stress is very related to mental health, so giving yourself the opportunity to feel more grounded will lead to feeling better overall and to more success during your day. Try it!
Problem 6: Your view is ugly. You’re staring at a wall.
- Why are you inside when outside exists?!
- Adopt a plant. A fish. Move your body. Stretch. Turn your desk in to a stand-up desk, even it if means pulling boxes & books out of the supply room until you get the right height (I have a colleague who has done this twice!). Researchers have found that having plants in the workplace increases concentration and focus, improves workplace satisfaction, and makes the air seem more refreshing (Nieuwenhuis, Knight, Postmus & Haslam, 2014). In addition, too much sedentary time has been found to be related to health problems in the long-term, so activity breaks are always a good idea.
The Key?? Focus on things you CAN control: Deal effectively with your own mind, consider context to adjust your reactions to others, and manipulate your environment to make it more rewarding!