I'd like to write about something a little different today. Work has always been a hard, frustrating thing, and with the changing face of so many industries and the continued economic troubles, that's as true now as ever. But with how much time we spend at work, is just trying to get through or survive it really the best approach? Here are five suggestions for how you (or I, or anyone really) can enjoy work more today.
1. Set Professional Goals. Why is World of Warcraft so popular? Personally, I think it's because people like the sense of progress, like they're building toward something and growing in some way. In real life, we can't gain experience points or reach level 99, and most of us don't get to unearth great relics of old.
But that doesn't mean we can't set goals and learn and grow in exciting ways. Take a minute to think about yourself as a professional, and where you'd like to be in 1, 5, and 10 years. Then take steps to drive those goals. Maybe there's a new technology you want to learn more about (databases, virtualization, cloud computing). Maybe you want to learn more about the business you're in, or learn how to use a new software tool. These goals can definitely support the needs of your business (it's great if they do), but the reasoning shouldn't be for the business. It should be for you.
2. Set Personal Goals. Yes, I think you should have personal goals at work too. These goals could be related to health and wellness (learn better ergonomics, eat healthier lunches, work out during lunch breaks more), could be related to personal relationships (take time to meet more people in your organization, build social relationships with these people outside work, etc.), or something different altogether. Take 10 minutes out of your workday to learn a new card trick or memorize the lyrics to a song or solve the newspaper chess puzzle. It's not going to hurt your work productivity—it'll actually make you more productive, and happier.
3. Listen to Music. Even if you're in a lot of meetings or interact with a lot of people, you can still find times in the day to listen to music. Most people that I talk to are much more relaxed (and time goes by much faster) when they listen to music. Use headphones to avoid disrupting others. And think about what kind of music you're listening to, and what emotions it conveys. Is the music happy, peaceful, and tranquil, or angry, stressed, and urgent? This will affect your mood in small ways.
4. Make a Short Personal Call Every Day. Call one person every day—a spouse/significant other, family member, or friend. When you work every day, you rarely have time to call people, especially since you're so tired when you get home. If you don't have time for a call, send a text message. If that person is working, leave a message. You'll find that you have more and better personal relationships for it, plus it breaks up your day and gives you little things to look forward to each day.
5. Decorate Your Office/Cubicle. OK, I haven't actually done this one, because I'm not a very visual person. But if you are, take a little time to decorate your office. It doesn't have to be in a distracting way (like the people that have 40 photos taped in a giant border around the computer monitor), but just in small ways. Do you like the beach? Hang up a picture of a beach scene, and on a really stressful day, take a few minutes to imagine yourself there. It sounds silly, I know, but this stuff really does work if you take the time to do it.
Anyway, not the most technical information I know, but sometimes the simplest advice (and the kind of thing you expect to see in one of those accursed email forwards) is the best advice. If you try all of these things (and I mean really try) and you still feel stressed every day, then it's probably worth re-evaluating whether you're really in the right position, field, or company.