Had a bad day at the office?
As a child, when someone asked you “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, it’s unlikely you would have said, “Oh, I’d love to spend my days in a small, beige laminate 3 x 3 space with my very own lockable cabinet.”
Yet many of us do and regardless of whether you’re doing a job you enjoy or not, your work space has the power to suck the very life out of you! Arriving early, you boot up your computer and wander round to the kitchen to let your sandwich hang out in the fridge with mouldy lunches long forgotten.
By the time you’ve trawled through the sea of red emails crowding your inbox (that appeared seemingly out of nowhere overnight), it’s time for a heart starter coffee.
Grabbing your regular coffee buddy you make your way to the usual cafe. While your skinny latte’s making its way into a polystyrene cup, you shoot the breeze with the other workstation warriors you see most mornings.
Back at your cubicle, you try to get your head into that report you’ve been writing for days. Just as you’re starting to make progress, it’s time for an important meeting. (Oh joy, another hour of your life to be wasted in a windowless meeting room, listening to endless discussions about who knows what.) You look interested whilst pondering how to make it across the road to your next back to back meeting on time.
After downing your lunch at your beloved workstation and catching up on the latest online news or Facebook goss, it’s time to do battle with those now even more out of control emails. (Doesn’t anyone pick up the phone or get off their bottom and come round to talk anymore?) By 2pm it feels like you’ve spent more time looking for things than getting them done.
An urgent request to prepare slides for your boss’ presentation to the board tomorrow suddenly shoves everything else onto the backburner. Yes, it was scheduled 3 weeks ago, but for some reason it slipped his mind and now it’s up to you to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. And if he could have the preso by 5pm so he’s got time to read it over, that would be great thanks.
By the time you head out the door to battle the peak hour traffic, you’re exhausted. You’re racing to pick up the children and you’ve no idea what’s for dinner! Somehow none of this was part of the plan when you started your career and surely there’s more to life…
Sound familiar? Read on!
These Workplace Warrior Survival Tips will make life bearable while you hatch your freedom plan.
#1. Take Control of Your Space
Make time to clean up your workstation and ruthlessly biff anything you no longer need. Keeping your physical space uncluttered goes a long way to regaining your overall sense of control and freedom. Within the boundaries of your work place, personalise your workstation or desktop with images that inspire, amuse and motivate you.
#2. Schedule Self Appointments for the Important Stuff
Given how much our workdays are dictated by electronic calendar invites, I’m constantly surprised how few people book an appointment with themselves to get the real work done. Block out Real Work Time, get your head down and instantly feel more fulfilled by what you are able to get done. If you need to work uninterrupted, book a meeting room or work from home, disappear and focus on the task at hand.
#3. Decide what Meetings You Really Must Attend
The ‘need to be needed’ and ‘in the know’ drives many people to attend meetings they can neither learn from nor contribute anything meaningful to. If the meeting invite doesn’t state a clear purpose nor included an outcome oriented agenda, politely decline and reclaim productive hours back into your week. If the outcome of the meeting you declined is important, you’ll find out about it one way or another.
#4 . Get Out at Lunchtime
The work will always be there and heroically downing your sandwich with one hand whilst answering emails with the other, won’t get it done any quicker. Research shows that those who clear their heads with a brisk walk or go for a run during their lunch break, are significantly more productive in the afternoon. Use the headspace time to regroup or decide what you’re going to cook for dinner!
#5. Plan Your Great Escape
If your current job isn’t remotely linked to what you really want to do, it’s time for a change. Decide what your dream work looks, sounds and feels like. Find out what it involves and research the options. Create a plan to bridge the gap between now and your ideal future. (The Great Life Redesign provides a simple blueprint to make this easy).
#6. Change How You Look at Things
Once your Great Life Redesign vision and plan are crystal clear, the work you’re doing now becomes your ticket to freedom! Having clearly decided your future, your current role becomes a necessary, temporary transition job, rather than your life’s work. When each day is deliberately bringing you a step closer to your dream, today’s job takes on a whole new meaning.
Better still, when you’ve packed your Thrival Kit with resilience, perspective, courage and success, each day becomes noticeably easier.
Life’s too short to be chained to a workstation merely marking time to pay the bills. Focus on what you really want, play to your strengths by doing more of what you love and do well.
Plan your escape and enjoy each day as it comes.
Do you have a favourite workplace survival tip that gives you more freedom? If so, please share, I’d love to hear it.