If your work routine needs a pick-me-up, consider implementing a few of these to make your workplace more fun, healthy, and productive!
Work can be stressful, time consuming, frustrating, and maybe even a little soul-crushing at times. It doesn’t have to be this way. Work can be fun, productive, stress free, and leave you feeling content and fulfilled at the end of the day. It mainly comes down to finding ways to enjoy what you do, laugh and smile more, and let go of any aspects of your job that drag you down. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Do desk yoga.
You can do some small yoga stretches and moves without even standing up from your desk. This keeps muscles from getting sore and tired while improving circulation and focus. Encourage your coworkers to join in so they don’t look silly doing nothing while you stretch and twist around in your chair.
2. Stand up and stretch.
Sitting all day is literally taking years off your life and contributing to weight gain. Your body relies on your movement and muscles to move lymph fluid. Set an alarm on your phone or in your outlook calendar to remind you to stand at least once an hour. Get up, hop around, do a few jumping jacks, and stretch a bit.
3. Take a nap.
Not every job will let you do this, but don’t be afraid to ask your boss about taking a 10–15 minute nap in the middle of the day. There’s plenty of research to bring to prove you aren’t just being lazy. A short nap improves memory, helps your brain absorb and accept new concepts, and boosts productivity and focus for hours afterward.
4. Add some color and life.
Living plants create oxygen and contribute to a better mood at work. Just having something natural next to you can lower your stress levels and reduce blood pressure. Place some fresh flowers or green plants on your desk, on your file cabinet, and around the office. Watch them grow, and bask in the oxygen.
5. Eat healthy snacks.
Work doesn’t often leave us a lot of time to eat well, but you can control your snacks. Bring seeds, nuts, and fresh veggies to work and snack on them as you need them. This will keep your blood sugar level throughout the day, supply plenty of the healthier calories you need to stay focused, and keep you from overeating during your lunch break.
Meditation can be done almost anytime and anywhere. You can do simple meditations at your desk by just closing your eyes, breathing, and letting your mind clear. This can relieve a lot of the stress that builds up during the day.
A pre-workday workout sends fresh blood to your brain, increases circulation, improves memory, and is all around good for your heart and your body. Even days when you don’t manage to get a workout in during the early morning, you can slip some exercise in during the day. Do some jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit ups next to your desk. Hide some foam balls in your drawer and instigate impromptu dodge ball fights between cubicles. Take a quick jog around the building. Run the stairs during your lunch break. There a million ways to get your heart pumping and break up the monotony of work.
8. Smile and be friendly.
A positive attitude is contagious and makes for a completely different workplace. Don’t just hide away in your cubicle and take off by yourself for lunch. Smile and chat with your co-workers. Walk around in the morning and say hello to everyone. Give out high fives. You’ll make friends and feel like your work environment is more like a close, happy family.
9. Make a list or schedule
Don’t overdo your list as this can contribute to an overwhelmed feeling, but a modest list of tasks and goals can do wonders for your morale. You get to mark accomplishments off and feel satisfied with your productivity. Start with a few easy tasks to get the ball rolling and your confidence boosted.
10. Be yourself.
Don’t just slip on a work mask to cover up your personality. That’s the perfect way to feel lost, identity-less, isolated, and unhappy. Be a little crazy now and again. Crank your music for a moment while you dance in your cubicle. Throw a paper airplane down the hallway. Push a co-worker through the break room on a rolling chair. Make weird faces in the bathroom mirror. Do your practically famous impression of Bill Cosby. Tape a couple sheets of paper towel to your shirt and run through the office like you’re a superhero. As long as you aren’t damaging company property, being too annoying, or really hurting anyone, you’ll be fine, and people will actually appreciate the break in routine.
11. Do Less.
Taking on too much work is the same as being lazy. Either way, things get overlooked and less gets done well if at all. That means it is okay to say no at times. Take on the workload you know you can do and do well. You will come across as a better employee if you can tackle every task you take on with excellence and skill than if you try to do everything and provide subpar performance.
12. Turn off distractions.
Sometimes you need to shut off your phone and Facebook to get work done. These distractions may make work more bearable at times, but if they keep you from finishing tasks, then they are also eating into your free time as you have to skip lunches, work extra hours, and give up on other fun moments to finish your work and meet deadlines.
13. Go to fewer meetings.
If you are in charge of scheduling meetings or can opt whether to attend them, do fewer. Most meetings are a waste of time. They go over what people already know, are already doing, and very rarely provide much in the way of motivation, learning, or progress unless they are short, simple, and direct. Anything new can usually be sent out in a short email or just walked around to the department heads to discuss with their teams in a less formal setting. Don’t waste your time and everyone else’s with endless, repetitive meetings.
If you are in charge, give your employees some fun breaks instead of meetings. Take them bowling while you discuss sales. Go for a hike and talk about reaching goals. If you must go to meetings, smile and spread your happy, positive attitude through the group and hopefully you all can have some fun, laugh a little, and maybe even cover something new and helpful while you’re there.
14. Take a walk.
Get up and walk around your building. The fresh air, exercise, and change of scenery will make the rest of the day better. Fresh air lessens headaches and improves mood and focus too.
15. Don’t be a Drama Llama (my less sexist term for a Drama Queen).
You need to roll with the punches, adapt, and come up ready for anything. Freaking out about a change that negates your hard work for the past month while simultaneously dumping a ton of extra work on your pretty llama head may seem reasonable, but it doesn’t really do you or anyone else any good. All it does is make you seem hard to deal with, explosive, and overly emotional. Expect unpleasant surprises and take them with a good-natured shrug of your shoulders. These come with any job, so deal with them and don’t let them get to you. If you must, go outside, lock yourself in your car, crank up the rock, and sing/scream your way back to sanity. You can also head to the bathroom and meditate for a few minutes. Whatever you do, don’t throw stuff around your cubicle, rant, rave, and blow up at people who are just trying to do their job the best they can too.
16. Challenge yourself.
The human mind thrives on variety and challenge. If you are bored at work or feel underappreciated, take on a new challenge. Set your own private goals to take on a new aspect of your job and make it better. Give yourself something to do that excites you. Push your performance to a new level. Don’t just sit there and complain about how bored you are.
There is something satisfying about taking a mess and seeing it organized. Declutter your desk, your filing cabinet, and your computer. You will be more productive in a clean and ordered area.
18. Make work a game.
Make your tasks a game. See how many emails you can answer in two minutes. Enter sales units into the spreadsheet according to rules you made up. Compete with co-workers on how fast you enter them and give the winner fun lame prizes and trophies like a stack of the brightest purple post-it notes or the much coveted good stapler. Have fun and decide to enjoy your job.
19. Learn something new.
Many jobs have downtime and access to the internet. Learn something new. Read an article a day about quantum physics or how to refinish furniture. Even if you don’t have downtime or the internet, you can learn something from a co-worker, pick up a new task, or trade places with someone in another department for a day. Our brains long to learn new things, to grow, and to discover. Feed your brain and it will be happier, and since your brain is in charge of all the happy endorphins, hormones, and neurotransmitters, you will be happier too.
20. Use your vacation and sick days.
People often think they can’t take a day off and get ahead. That’s not true. Sometimes you need a day off to recover and recharge. You’ll come back energized and with fresher eyes.
21. Listen to music.
Most jobs let you get away with some quiet music or the use of headphones. Take advantage of it if they do. Music stimulates the mind and can alter mood. Choose music that makes you excited or calm, depending on what you want or need with the current task.
22. Talk to the head honchos.
Tell your boss or the executives that you’d like to improve morale around the office. Go to them with plenty of ideas and they may let you try a few of them. A few people did this and it created a “Culture Club,” a group of people who work on boosting morale and company culture each month.
23. Have a contest.
You may need permission first, but a little friendly contest amongst your coworkers can be fun and productive. Try designing a department logo, a company t-shirt, or best photograph. Be creative and make sure it stays fun and low key. Competition has its place and can increase both productivity and creativity, but keep it from getting too crazy.
24. Start with a laugh.
One of the best times to take a moment and watch a silly internet video is when you first get to work. Starting your day with a laugh will actually make you far more productive than just getting straight into the nitty-gritty and grind yourself down bit by bit. Take another break for another laugh halfway through your day for a second wind.
25. Give a gift.
Handwrite a note and attach it to a little gift or healthy snack and randomly leave it on someone’s desk. It’s nice, fun, friendly, and makes both your day and someone else’s. Make it anonymous or not, up to you.
Personalize your signature, your desk, your cubicle, your department. I just painted a green and orange stripe across my filing cabinet. I asked if I could first. It looks great and makes me take a little more pride in my area.
I use all of these and many more to keep me smiling and sane with all the deadlines at my own job. My co-workers know me for making odd noises, doing jumping jacks, listening to music, dancing like a cartoon character, and busting out the occasional velociraptor impression. I still have my job after all that too because I get a ton of work done while I smile and laugh often. You can do it! You can be happy and productive at work. The two are not mutually exclusive. Give the list a go and add what works for you in the comments below.