Whether you’re working from home or back in the office (or balancing a hybrid of the two), enjoying what you do and how you do it is crucial to not just the longevity of your career, but the richness of it. Putting your head down and clocking in and out every day may be a strategy used by some, but, given that we spend the vast majority of our lives at work, that’s not a strategy that will lead to any sense of life satisfaction! Keep reading for some ideas about how to ensure that you’re engaged and happy at work.
Take stock of your skillset
Let’s be honest, we don’t spend enough time celebrating what we’re good at. Instead, it’s those skills we need to develop that get most of our attention. But if you want to feel like your work is valuable and meaningful, you need to remind yourself what you bring to the table.
Taking stock of your skillset means not just listing the tasks that are requirements of your job, but thinking more broadly about how you solve problems, communicate with colleagues, strategize for the future, or envision new ways of doing old tasks. What do the people in your life come to you for? Remind yourself of your own value and what you offer at work.
Reflect on your goals
When you walk in to work (or sit down at your desk at home), it can be easy for daily tasks and small fires to hijack our attention. Take some time to remind yourself of your goals when it comes to your contribution at work. Again, this isn’t an exercising in listing your job responsibilities, but instead thinking about how you want to make your workplace or your organization’s contribution to the world more meaningful.
What impact do you want to have on your workplace? Once you’re clear on your own goals, ask yourself: Are my goals aligned with the goals of my organization? If not, how can you bring them into closer alignment?
Take some time to remind yourself of your goals when it comes to your contribution at work.
Assess how you show up at work
Part of understanding how you want to contribute to your workplace or your organization’s goals is taking a good look at how you show up at work. That doesn’t just mean “Do you roll in five minutes late every day?” but rather, how do you present yourself? Do you make an effort to build relationships with your colleagues? Are you mindful of your word choice and tone when you’re chatting with coworkers or emailing clients? Are you able to address issues as they arise at work, or do you avoid conflict at all costs?
Often, especially after we’ve been working somewhere for a long time, we can begin to pay less attention to these things and tend to operate on autopilot. You send short, terse emails because that’s how you’ve always done it. You don’t really think to ask how your coworker’s kids are doing because you’re too busy. You steer clear of conflict because you don’t want to deal with it. It’s understandable, but it’s when we start to detach from our workplace that we lose our enjoyment in our work.
Evaluate your coping skills
When conflict does arise at work – and it will – how do you manage it? When you’re stressed out about an upcoming deadline, or unhappy with how a problem was dealt with in your department, what do you do to cope?
We often react to situations without really understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing, which can lead to some pretty unhelpful behaviours. Evaluate how you handle unhappiness at work – do you retaliate, avoid, work less, set boundaries, or try to solve the problem? Sometimes it’s helpful to remind ourselves that there may be more productive ways to cope with challenges that will ultimately lead to the increased enjoyment of our work.
Create helpful habits
Staying engaged and happy at work can often be bolstered by simply introducing a few new habits to make our lives easier. If your workspace is a mess and you’re constantly losing that flash drive or wasting time looking for tools, take a few minutes at the end of each day to put everything in its place (or take a few hours to find a place for everything and then maintain that system each day).
Consider when your energy levels are the highest over the course of the day and schedule your most challenging tasks and responsibilities for those times, leaving the less challenging work like filing or data entry for when your energy is the lowest. Ensure you’re taking all your breaks each day so that you give yourself an opportunity to rest and recharge, instead of pushing through the day and burning yourself out.
While there are certainly a number of barriers to our happiness at work that we can’t control – those that are at the organization or leadership level – there are plenty of things we can do for ourselves to ensure that we feel engaged, productive, and purposeful. Take the time to reflect on where you’re at and try one of these tips – investing in our approach to work is ultimately an investment in our lives.
Consider when your energy levels are the highest over the course of the day and schedule your most challenging tasks and responsibilities for those times.
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