If it’s 9:45 a.m. and you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the rest of the day without stapling your hand to your desk, this post is for you.
It might be because you’re not feeling challenged, or because you’re not climbing the ladder fast enough, or simply because you’d rather be enjoying the sunshine outside than staring at your computer screen. The question is: is it the job, or is it you?
Taking advantage of the positive aspects of your workplace and tapping into your own potential to grow there could turn a ho-hum position into a resume booster and a stepping stone to your dream job.
Leave that stapler on your desk, and check out these six ways to get more enjoyment from your job:
1. Challenge yourself
Has your work become monotonous? Are you tired of doing the same things day in and day out? Make those mundane tasks more interesting by adding an extra challenge. For instance:
- Expense reports aren’t exactly fun, so find a way to complete them more efficiently—then see if you can beat your best time.
- Content generation can be hard, but invest a little more time and challenge yourself to write a great post or newsletter instead of one that’s just okay.
- Your SEO is performing well enough, but spend 10 minutes on Google Trends to test out ways to make it even better.
Sometimes boredom comes from complacency; you understand and become comfortable with what’s expected and decide you’re done trying to go above and beyond.
Make it your goal to try something new every day. Even if the goal you set for yourself seems miniscule, you never know what effect it might have on your work the next day.
2. Ask for help
No one has all the answers, so don't be afraid to ask your superiors or coworkers for the support you need to do your best work. Ask questions in a calm, thorough and thoughtful manner. And if you don’t understand something, don’t wait until the very last minute to ask about it!
Worried that asking questions will hurt your career? In fact, there’s a higher chance asking will actually move your career forward. If that isn’t the case, you’re probably working at the wrong place.
3. Find a balance
You're not helping anyone if you're burnt out. Take breaks, go outside, see your friends in the evening and put a limit on how many hours you normally spend at work.
Your personal relationships, interests and fitness are all connected to your productivity, attitude and ability to pump out high-level work. Don't ignore them. Are you experiencing any of these signs?
4. Partake in a passion project
Take the lessons you gain from work—the skills, the experience, the exposure to other talented people—and apply them to an outside project you’re passionate about. This project should be fun, challenge you to grow and add yet another impressive element to your portfolio.
Lots of ideas that started as passion projects have taken on a life of their own. Here’s some inspiration.
5. Stop trying to multitask
Scientific data proves that humans simply cannot multitask. I know being “able to multitask” is an interview staple, and I know you think you're great at Gchatting while you work, but you’re just not.
Focus on one thing and one thing alone, apply all your energy to that one task and do it well. You'll be surprised how much more you get done each day, how much better the quality is and how much more cohesive your work, communication and thoughts are overall.
Here are a few additional tips on how to be more productive online.
6. Do something kind for a coworker or client
This is probably the easiest, yet unfortunately most often overlooked, way to create a better, happier work environment for yourself and those around you. There are just four steps:
- Ask questions.
- Listen to the answers.
- Wait a while.
- Ask more questions.
Take an interest in people. Ask them about their plans for the weekend, then simply ask them how their plans unfolded when you see them next. How was the camping trip with the in-laws, the big date with the guy from the coffee shop or the process of painting the living room pea green?
Leave someone a sticky note with a book or music recommendation. Buy a round of coffees or bring in a few snacks to share. Text or email someone who was obviously having a bad day after work and just ask how they're doing.
None of these steps take very long. They show that you’re engaged, you’re invested in the people around you and you’re part of the community.
If you take a stab at these strategies and still find yourself reaching for the stapler, then maybe it is indeed time to start re-evaluating your career game plan.
What do you do to stay happy and productive at work? Tell us about a great example you’ve tried or learned from someone else!
Jeff Chenoweth is the Digital Marketing Manager at Ignite, the intrapreneurial innovation lab of Adecco, where he's helping to create a happier, more engaged workforce. Connect with Jeff via Twitter or LinkedIn.