When it comes to work, there are always some days you look forward to less than others. And at this time of the year, the dark mornings and cold days can leave you wishing for the couch rather than your desk.
So what can you do to bring back the energy to your workday?
Here are my top 5 tips to help you get more done at work - and enjoy doing it.
It’s never too early in the year to book a day off from work. Having a day to look forward to helps to motivate you on those long Monday mornings and gives you a sense of work-life balance.
Not only is a day off a great way to break up the long stretch between Christmas and Easter, but it’s also good for your performance at work. Taking a break allows you to de-stress and recharge to be more focused, creative, and productive.
Go one step further and schedule your morning and lunch breaks in your calendar, so you remember to take time for yourself during a busy day.
It can be easy to lose sight of your purpose at work if you are running from one task to the next. A lack of purpose means low motivation, poorer performance and a high likelihood that you will spend some of your time on job-search sites.
But there is a simple way to remember why you do what you do. Take a pen and paper and write down the names of the last five people you helped at work. You may have answered a question over email, picked up a coffee, or helped them solve a problem.
Focusing on the people you work with, rather than an endless to-do list, helps to strengthen your sense of belonging and combined purpose.
If you have a heavy workload, you might find yourself skipping breaks and working longer hours. It’s no wonder that you feel you’ve done a whole week’s work by Wednesday evening.
Looking at the outcomes you are trying to achieve is an excellent way to interrupt this cycle. Decide at the beginning of the week the results you want to achieve. What does success look like?
Identify three to five critical tasks to make that outcome happen and prioritise those. Track progress during the week and acknowledge what you have achieved.
This approach won’t make less important tasks disappear, but you will spend more time on high-value activities. The result is a feeling of a “job well done” as you close your laptop at the end of the day.
Regardless of where you work, imagining a day without interruptions is hard. Whether it’s your teammates, kids or fur-colleagues, someone else is always looking for your attention.
And even the moments you have to yourself can disappear if you are distracted by noisy phone notifications or other jobs you would like to get done.
It is difficult to make progress if distractions and interruptions fracture your day. Constantly switching your attention drains your energy and increases the time it takes to get the work done. If you’ve ever finished a hectic day, but it seems like you achieved nothing, then you know what this feels like.
Setting aside one hour a day to spend on the most important activity is a great way to improve the amount of focused time. Mute noisy notifications and tell others what you are doing to increase your chance of success. If one hour seems too long, break it into two 25-minute blocks with a 5-minute break in-between.
If you are unsure if you still like your job or the place you work, practising gratitude every day for a couple of weeks may be just what you need. Make a list every morning of the things you like about work.
These could be big or small things. For example, you may have a favourite coffee cup you use, a work bestie with whom you have daily laughs, or you can develop a new skill you are passionate about.
When you focus on the good things, you will be more aware of them throughout the day. The result is more pockets of joy in your workday!
My final advice is to embrace the good days and accept the others. Life doesn’t flow in a straight line, and neither does our work. Do your best for the day and then switch off to enjoy everything else your life offers.
Niamh Moynihan is the founder of Better Workday and author of Remote Working Essentials. She is passionate about helping people succeed at work while looking after their well-being