How to be Happier at Work

And, no, it's not about office chair races (although that sounds fun) It’s All About Your Focus


Maybe the reason you aren’t happy at your job isn’t because you’re in the wrong career, or you aren’t paid enough, or you aren’t appreciated, or your benefits stink, or…fill in the blank.

Then again, that could be it. You could have the worst job in the world, or maybe you’re doing something that you just don’t like. If so, go here.

There are a bunch of extrinsic and intrinsic work rewards that can make you happier. Read my earlier post about that here.

But after you’ve looked at all that, maybe the real reason you’re not happier at work is because in our “short attention span you must respond to me instantly” society most of your time is spent doing superficial work:

  • Reacting to emails, text messages, and phone calls
  • Putting out other people’s fires
  • Going to meetings that seem to accomplish nothing
  • Being interrupted every 5 minutes when you finally get to focus on your real work

Gee, I can’t understand why you don’t wake up with a smile on your face every morning and race back to your cubicle for more of that!

“You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances 
are you’ll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous.” 

While I was working on this blog post I allowed myself to be interrupted by emails, a phone call, and an Internet search on when and how Bill Walsh died. (Background: I watched a documentary on him last night and was curious. It turns out he was 75 and died of leukemia in 2007.) I even allowed myself to be distracted by a video on how to introduce yourself.

How do we get anything done anymore?

This type of fractured, distracted, superficial work environment can lead anywhere from mild unhappiness, to frustration, anger and depression.

Think back to the last time you were doing real work and someone kept trying to talk to you or ask you to do little, unimportant things. How did you respond to them? How did you feel?

Now think back to the last time you were in the flow or the zone and you knew you were doing great work. You knew you were at your best and Getting. It. Done.

How did you feel after a couple of hours of that? Even if it wasn’t your favorite part of your job, the fact you did it well and got it done felt good, didn’t it?

If it was something you really care about and you kicked butt, then you were on a high, weren’t you?

So, how do we get more of that?

The answer is focus.

If you can focus on the most important goals in your job and avoid the distractions of lesser tasks, you will be killing it at work and enjoying the great feelings that come from being in the flow.

If you focus on all the superficial, busy work that most people focus on, you’ll be the average, disengaged, unhappy worker bee.

So, where’s your focus?

Action steps:

1) To learn more about how to be in flow or the zone, read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (say that five times fast).

2) To learn more about the importance and results of focusing on your best work, check out Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport.

3) Get clear on the most important goals in your business and in your role in the business.

4) Set time aside to focus on those goals without distraction.

5) Explain to others how and when you will be in focus mode and unavailable except for emergencies.

6) Set a timer for 50 minutes, turn off all distractions, and GO!

7) Take a break, talk with friends, check messages.

8) Repeat.

9) Celebrate by wasting some time on Twitter.

Let’s GO!

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that I view as rude, snarky, mean or off-topic. Hey, this is to support each other and have fun! Let's Go!

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