5 Tips to Help You Become a Happier, Healthier Worker
November 1, 2011
By ENJOLI FRANCIS
Healthways and “World News” want to help you improve your well-being at home and at work.
First, test your well-being here and then check out the following 5 tips to make your workplace a healthier, happier environment for you.
List one work-related skill you’d like to learn or improve: Think carefully about the work you do, your company’s objectives, and your own personal goals for your career. Identify one thing to improve in order to move forward within your company. It could be learning a new software program, becoming involved with a new project, or taking a course in your field. Write down the steps you’ll need to make this goal happen. If you’re not currently working, list a skill that you could learn or strengthen that would make you more marketable in the future. Too often we get into a rut in our work, performing the same repetitive tasks over and over and doing just what’s required to carry out the basic functions of our job. If you want to move ahead — both professionally and personally — you have to step back and think about what you’re doing and how you can do it better, create a plan, then implement the plan.
Start a file (paper or electronic) in which you keep track of your job-related accomplishments: Start an electronic or paper file that includes reminders of job-related accolades and accomplishments. Did a customer compliment you on the way you handled a problem? Did your boss praise the way you collaborated with others? Did you find a way to cut costs and save your company money? Because this file is just for you, you can write up the notes however you want. Then keep it handy to look at on days you need a boost at work. A healthy sense of self protects against depression and anxiety. But self-esteem doesn’t just happen spontaneously — it’s like a mental muscle that needs regular workouts, experts say. Keeping a list of your job-related accomplishments lets you learn to respect your unique skills and helps you navigate job insecurity, heavy workloads, and other career pressures. Bonus: When it comes time to update your resume, referring to your list makes it a snap!
Focus on just one task: Make a conscious effort to focus on just one activity, and one activity alone, for 15 minutes straight. If need be, set a timer for 15 minutes. Then don’t break to surf the Web, check e-mail, instant message, or check your voicemail — just do the one activity. Try this at work or at home. Be fully present and focused on just one thing for 15 minutes. We may think that multitasking makes us more productive, but research indicates otherwise. Not only are there the possible deadly consequences, such as when talking on a cell phone or texting while driving or operating heavy machinery. Family life and relationships suffer from our distracted behavior. Studies show that heavy multitaskers have more trouble focusing and they experience more stress.
Repeat a colleague’s words back to him or her to show you’re listening today: The next time you speak to a colleague, pledge to practice active listening. While the other person is speaking, focus your full attention on what he or she is saying. Look at the person in the eye, and when it’s your turn, repeat back what he or she has said. When talking to co-workers, it’s all too easy to half-listen while you think about your own response or what’s for lunch. Active listening helps avoid misunderstandings because you have to confirm what the other person actually said. Tuning in fully also promotes openness between people, because having someone listen attentively makes it more likely you’ll open up, sharing details and thoughts you normally wouldn’t.
Plan to tackle the toughest task on your list at the beginning of the workday: Identify the toughest task you have on your plate, and take steps to address that task first rather than putting it off until later in the day. Have a tough phone call to make? Want to address a problem with a co-worker? Get it done first, and then the rest of your day will feel like a breeze. There’s nothing worse than having something you’re not looking forward to doing in the back of your mind all day. At best, it’s bothersome, and at worst, it’s a distraction that can have negative effects on your other duties. Taking care of your toughest task first thing will help you relax and get through the rest of your day with less stress. It also gives you a lift because you’ll feel proud that you were able to get it done so early. It’s a true win-win!