Want to have the best workday ever? Day after day? It’s not as difficult as you think.
These 10 tweaks to your everyday behavior will virtually guarantee you a day that’s not just enjoyable but allows you to get more done than you ever thought possible.
1. Start with 15 minutes of positive input.
It’s easier to achieve and maintain a positive attitude if you have a “library” of positive thoughts in your head, so you can draw upon them if the day doesn’t go exactly as you’d prefer. Start each day by reading (or listening to) an inspirational book to ensure that you have just such a resource at hand.
2. Tie your work to your life’s goals.
Always remember that there’s a deeper reason why you go to work and why you chose your current role. Maybe it’s to support your family, to change the world in some way, to help your customers, to make a difference: Whatever the deeper motivation, remind yourself that this workday–today–is the opportunity to accomplish part of that deeper and more important goal.
3. Use your commute wisely.
Most people waste their commute time listening to the news or (worse, especially if they’re driving) making calls, texting, or answering emails. In fact, your commute time is the perfect time to get yourself pumped up for the day, and there’s no better way to do this than to listen to music that truly inspires you and gets you in the right mood. Don’t depend on a DJ: Make your own mixes!
4. Stick a smile on your face.
It’s likely, if you followed the first three steps, that you’ll already be smiling. If not, stick a smile on your face anyway.
It doesn’t matter if it feels fake: Research has shown that even the most forced of smiles genuinely reduces stress and makes you happier. Does this mean you should be grinning like the Joker in the Batman comics? Well, yes, if that’s the best you can do. But something a bit more relaxed might be less alarming to co-workers.
5. Express a positive mood.
When most people are asked social greetings–questions such as “How are you?” or “What’s up?”–they typically say something neutral (“I’m OK”) or negative, like “Hangin’ in there.” That kind of talk programs your brain for failure.
Instead, if anyone inquires, say something positive and enthusiastic, like: “Fantastic!” or “I’m having a wonderful day!” It’s true that there are some people whom this annoys–but these are people you should be avoiding anyway. (See No. 7, below.)
6. Do what’s important first.
Everybody complains about having too much to do, but few people do anything about it. As I explained in “The Surprising Secret of Time Management,” 20% of your activities are going to produce 80% of your results. So do that 20% first, before you get to the 80% of your activities that is mostly wasted time. You’ll get more done, and you’ll get better results.
7. Avoid negative people.
If you’ve been following Steps 1 through 6, you’ll probably find that the most negative people in your orbit will be avoiding you, while the positive people will want to hang out with you and help you. Though it’s true you can’t avoid all the Debbie Downers, you can certainly find something else to do when they start grousing about stuff they won’t or can’t change.
8. Don’t work long hours.
Long hours are simply a bad idea. For one thing, as I have pointed out before: Long hours, after a short burst of productivity, actually make you less productive. But frankly, if you’ve followed Steps 1 through 7, you’ll be getting so much done that you won’t need to work those long hours.
9. Wind down and relax.
Once you’re done with the workday, fill the remainder of your hours with nonwork-related activities that bring you joy and help you relax. The analogy of “recharge your batteries” is valid. Failing to take time to relax and stop thinking about work guarantees that you’ll begin the next day with a “hangover” of resentment that will leach the joy out of what can, and should be, a positive work experience. overconcentration.
10. End your day with 15 minutes of gratitude.
As I pointed out in “The True Secret of Success,” exercising your “gratitude muscle” is the best way to make certain that you experience more success. Before you go to sleep, get out a tablet (paper or electric), and record everything that happened during the day about which you are (or could be) grateful.
You’ll sleep better and be ready for tomorrow–which will probably be even more fabulous than today.
But What About …
Now, I know some of this can sound like a stretch. It may take a leap of faith to give this approach a try. But before you push back too much, let me answer some of the questions I sometimes hear.
- What if something really horrible happens during the day? You’ll be much better prepared to deal with challenges than if you were already halfway to miserable–which is how most people go through their workday.
- What if I simply have to deal with a negative person? Tune out the negativity. Learn to shrug it off. If the negativity becomes too much of a burden, start using the extra energy you’re producing to reorganize your team or (if the person is outside your company) find a different partner.
- What if I’m too depressed to do any of this? If that’s the case, you may need professional help. None of these tricks require more time and effort than making yourself miserable, however.
- Do these tricks really work? Yes.