The thing about work is that it isn’t fun. If it were, it would be called play. Most people grumble about going to work, and look forward to their time-off – especially when it is paid. And yet, polls show that most people, given the choice, would prefer to work. It’s when we get to the office that we begin to moan and groan. What’s the point in that? If we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, we might as well enjoy it! Here are some ways we can accomplish that:
First, prepare yourself mentally. Think about what you are accomplishing with your work. No matter how meaningless you think the job is, if it was totally irrelevant, you wouldn’t be paid for doing it. There must be someone you are helping, or some good you are doing – and when you focus on the good you are doing for another person or persons, it’s quite a wonderful feeling. Then, think about what you will accomplish with your paycheck: paying tuition, covering the rent or mortgage, grocery bills, etc. all of these are important expenses. Consider those millions of people who are un-employed, under-employed, or work long days for pennies per hour. Aren’t you lucky to have a job you can go to every day?
Second, make the most of your commute. The average American wastes almost an hour a day traveling to work. The stress and tedium of this wasted time takes a toll, so try to utilize it effectively. I bike 7.2 miles to work everyday. It’s a wonderful workout, and I actually get to work faster biking than if I would drove, even with my slow, cautious riding. In fact, studies show that if you work within ten miles of your home, your quickest option is biking. Using my bike I am also eliminating the stress of fighting traffic and finding parking, not to mention the money I save on gas.
However, if you must drive to work, get a collection of shiurim or audio books to listen to while you are in the car. If you take mass transit, then you have the option of catching up on saying Tehillim, learning, or decompressing with a good book. Today, with the plethora of cheap e-readers, there’s no need to shlep cumbersome books – making it more convenient to read on the train or bus.
Third, make your personal workspace as homey as possible. If possible, put up personal photos, funny quotes, or heartwarming cut-outs. Organize your space so that it’s neat, orderly and well-lit. Clutter causes distraction and in-efficiency. At least once a day, either when you first come in, or when you are getting ready to leave, spend a minute or two decluttering your space.
Fourth, be one with nature. I am lucky enough to enjoy a window by my desk, but if you don’t have that option, a small plant or bonsai tree will bring some green energy into your workspace. Even pictures or a nature slideshow on your computer can do the trick. Just take a minute to imagine yourself within that beautiful scene to reap those benefits.
Fifth, control the noise level around you, as best as you can. Generally, it’s not a good idea to ask your co-workers to lower their voices when they are on the phone or speaking near you. It can easily back-fire. Instead, pop in some earbuds or noise-canceling headphones. If possible, listen to some light classical music. You’ll still hear if someone is calling you, but you’ll be able to tune out all the incessant noise.
Sixth, be collegial with your co-workers. Although spending hours chitchatting over the water cooler is not halachically correct or fair to your boss, forming good relationships with the people you work with is actually an important component of longevity, according to a study done at Tel Aviv University. So feel free to spend a minute or two shooting the breeze with your co-workers. But keep the conversation positive. Complaining about your boss or other colleagues will not only foster bad relationships, according to a study in the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, it can cause you to become depressed.
Seventh, don’t spend your lunch break at your desk. A quick walk around the block is more energizing than the cup of coffee and chocolate bar we crave during that afternoon slump. And don’t forget to sit up straight! A big cause of back and neck pain is poor posture at the desk. Even better, every hour or so, take a quick stroll around the office ending with a couple of deep stretches.
Healthy and happy employees make productive, long-term employees. If you have a specific need, such as a private place to pump if you are nursing or a flexible schedule, don’t hesitate to speak with your boss. Be factual and clear, laying out how you envision your plan working. Odds are, he or she will be willing to hear you out and you’ll love your job even more.
About the Author: Pnina Baim holds a B.S. in Health and Nutrition from Brooklyn College and an MS.edu from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Program. She works as a nutritionist, a certified lactation consultant, a home organizer, and in her free time writes as much as possible. She is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at amazon.com. Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at email@example.com.
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