Blue Monday: Habits of happy workers

Blue Monday – purported to be the saddest day of the year – has rolled around once again. It’s no surprise that so many people feel down in the dumps; the Christmas and New Year cheer have been replaced with wet and windy commutes, and the guilt of broken resolutions weighs heavy on your shoulders.

Whether you’ve been stuck in the rain at the bus stop, felt snowed under with work, or missed drinks with friends after working overtime, we’ve got the tricks of the trade to help you tackle Blue Monday, and improve your work life from today. Here are five habits that help happy workers feel great every day.

  1. Only make the promises you can keep

You know the scenario – whether it’s over email, whilst you’re making a coffee or even during your lunch hour, there’s always someone who asks you to do a little extra something. You want to be a proactive and engaged employee, so you say you’ll help out.

You had started the week with a manageable task list, but suddenly it’s 3.30pm on Thursday and there’s still so much left to do! You realise with a sinking feeling that you’re going to have to break a few promises, leaving you feeling guilty, and your colleagues scrambling to get the work done.

From today, we want you to stop making promises you can’t keep. Happy workers understand that it’s great to help out their colleagues, even if it means a little overtime, but they never make a promise they can’t keep. If you do this, not only will you relieve yourself of the burden that guilt and worry brings, but when you do take on extra work, your colleagues and managers will trust that you’ll get it done.

  1. Find your optimum work/break balance

If you start the day with good intentions, working furiously ‘till lunch, only to find yourself slumped and procrastinating in the afternoon, you’re probably going to feel unfulfilled by the end of your working day. The hours will drag as you’re counting down the minutes to home time, but you’re struggling to motivate yourself to do the work on your to do list.

Today, spend some time researching personal time management techniques that include regular breaks. The Pomodoro (meaning ‘tomato’ in Italian) Technique is popular, as it requires 20-25 minutes of intense concentration followed by a five minute break. Follow the technique four times in a row, and you have 15 minutes to reward yourself for your hard work.

Establishing a proper work/break balance is essential as you’ll stay motivated all day, and still get the breaks you need to replenish your energy levels. Happy workers understand how to take both breaks and avoid procrastination, and their work life massively benefits from it.

  1. Turn colleagues into friends

If your company follows the typical 9-5, five days a week structure, chances are that you spend more time with your colleagues than your family and friends. When you realise this, you can start to resent these people, with whom you have nothing in common besides your job.

Take the time today to talk to one or two of your colleagues about something strictly not work related. You might have been brought together through a company you both work for, but chances are that those who have followed a similar career path to yourself may actually have something in common with you. Then, you can start looking at work as a chance to spend time with friends, rather than strangers.

Happy workers try to build personal connections with those they work with because they understand that a team who like each other will work better together.

  1. Avoid negativity… and negative people

If your lunchtime is spent listening to your colleague complain and moan about work, or being subjected to the latest office gossip, it’s all too easy to adopt their negative attitude. You may also find yourself noticing problems that didn’t exist before being subjected to the negativity, thanks to your colleague pointing them out.

To make sure 2016 is much more positive, it’s time to distance yourself from negative people. You don’t need to burn any bridges, but rather than nodding along to complaints, start offering solutions. They’ll either take your advice and become more positive, or eventually stop coming to you to moan.

Happy workers aim to surround themselves with positivity, and that means interacting with positive people. They acknowledge problems exist, but aim to solve them. If the problem can’t be solved then they just don’t dwell on that which is out of their control.

  1. Set yourself goals – and make them happen

Day in, day out, you do the same thing. Monotony gets you down, and you find yourself another year older without having gained anything. This can make you feel stagnant, and even worse, complacent.

It’s time to sit down and write down your goals for the year. Whether it’s learning a new skill or climbing your career ladder, identify what you want in your professional life and figure out the steps you’ll need to take to make them happen.

Those who are both successful and happy at work have a long-term plan, and take the steps to make it happen. Sure, the plan may change, but by having your goals physically written down, you can approach each day feeling like you have something to work towards.

Every job has its ups and downs, it’s up to you to focus on the positives. Being happy at work is essential for a happy life, so take the steps to build the habits into your daily life and you, too, can become a happy worker!