Sanity Checks in the Workplace, or Ideas for Being Happier

Geoffrey James at Inc.com recently posted about 17 ways to be happier at work. Collectively, they’re a good reminder of the controllable elements of a work environment. The coworkers, bosses, amounts of work, or smell from your neighbor don’t have to be the determining factors of your relative happiness while at work. Thought about another way, some of these tips are excellent “sanity checks,” or methods for keeping your balance in the workplace. Here are a few that seemed particularly useful and ultimately could result in a few extra minutes of time for yourself and your work.

You have the same amount of time as everyone else. While this sounds like a very obvious reminder, the simple fact is that everyone is bound by the 24 hour time period which delineates a day. Those who look more productive, or alternatively complain about working all through the night, are relegated to the same hours as you. When you feel that the 24 hour time period isn’t enough for you, look for ways that others are making it work, find methods for productivity that work best for you, and don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. Accomplish what you can in the time you’re given, and stop complaining or worrying yourself when others seem more productive. If you stop worrying about them, you may find a few extra minutes for yourself.

Don’t worry about what others are thinking of you. It’s not your business, and you can’t control what they’re thinking. Inevitably, there are times when you begin to wonder: what does coworker X think of what I just did? What does my boss really think during my performance reviews? Is so-and-so eyeing my job? The time you spend wondering what your boss or your coworker thinks about you will only result in energy and time wasted. It will probably also hurt your relationships within the workplace, making your job a less enjoyable place to be. Remember that you are only responsible for your own conduct, and if you’re comfortable with the decisions you’ve made, the words you’ve said, and the things you’ve done, then there’s no reason to take any of those things back and there’s little reason to worry.

Make your workspace work for you. James suggests that you “trash everything in your work area that isn’t useful or beautiful.” Another way of thinking of this is that your workspace only aids your productivity as much as you allow it to. The right measure of utility and aesthetics can help you be more efficient and probably keep you calmer throughout the day. The balance is very achievable. Do you have a dedicated space for inbound work? Do you have papers filed in folders or binders that are easily accessible and easily searchable? What can you use to brighten the color of your workspace? Maybe bring in a plant, a colorful lamp, or a few more framed pictures of Fido.

Often, your relative success and happiness in the workplace is a result of how you conduct yourself and how you set yourself up for productivity and success. Don’t let uncontrollable factors become roadblocks and don’t allow things you can control to slip to the wayside because you don’t feel you have time or energy to deal with them. As much as possible, make the workplace work for you.

Do uncontrollable factors act as roadblocks for you? Tell us which roadblock requires a sanity check in the comments below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by tauben