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8 Ways to Feel Good at the End of the Work Day

8 Ways to Feel Good at the End of the Work Day


    At Lifehack we talk a lot about happiness, and (in my opinion) general happiness is the accumulation of many days of contentment with one’s circumstances.  Therefore, being happier isn’t necessarily a matter of making massive changes in your life.  In fact, it’s often more about minor adjustments.  Here are eight small things you can do so that you feel better about yourself at the end of the day.

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    1. Cut the Fat

    Where you can, eliminate parties from your work who don’t really need to be involved.  The more cooks, the less likelihood there is that anything delicious will be made in the kitchen, and this inevitably leads to frustration.  Instead of spending every day in consensus-building meetings, strive to gain greater control over your work responsibilities  – consulting managers or mentors when YOU feel it will be helpful.

    2. Set an Aggressive Deadline

    Most people work more efficiently under pressure, and short-term deadlines ensure that you will actually have something tangible accomplished at the end of each day.  It’s better than spending chunks of time surfing the web, which may feel good in the moment but won’t put a smile on your face on the train ride home.

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    3. Jot Down Your Accomplishments

    Meeting several tough deadlines in a row, and achieving quantifiable results while you’re at it, is something of which to be proud.  Don’t sweep it under the rug.  Keep a running list of what you’ve achieved this week and look at it frequently, especially every time your thinking turns dark (e.g. “I’m wasting my life”, “I’ll never get promoted”).

    4. Have a Focused Conversation

    No matter how busy you are, make an effort to stop multi-tasking so that you can spend a few quality minutes with the people who matter.  This means actively listening, contributing as appropriate, and ignoring potential interruptions.  When all of your attention is on the discussion at hand, it’s much easier to build relationships, collaborate effectively and resolve conflicts.

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    5. Help a Colleague

    One of the most attractive aspects of volunteerism is that it helps the giver feel good about herself in addition to providing a service to society.  A non-profit related activity will obviously fit the bill in terms of increasing your positivity each day, but you can achieve the same effect by going out of your way to assist a colleague who is struggling.  You might take a project off his plate, show him how to use a new application, or offer to run his broken smartphone to the repair shop while out to lunch.

    6. Walk Outside

    Our energy peaks and flags at different times of the day depending on our natural body rhythms.  When you feel like you need a boost, grab your jacket and take a walk around the building or block.  Not only will the fresh air perk up your mood, but it will also remind you that you live in a world that extends beyond the sterile office environment.  And getting exercise, even when it’s of the light variety, will improve your overall health and well-being.

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    7. Eat a Colorful Plate

    Many of us make the mistake of thinking that we’ll be more productive if we forego lunch and eat a candy bar at our desks, but this is not the case.  Skipping meals regularly leads to increased fatigue and depression, and decreased mental acuity.   You’ll feel so much better when 6PM arrives if you stop, go down to the cafeteria, and eat a hearty lunch comprised of at least two-thirds fruits and vegetables.  As a general rule, the more colorful your plate is, the more nutritious.

    8. Don’t Compromise Your Values

    Don’t let anyone, senior executives or otherwise, talk you into doing something you feel is morally wrong.  You may get caught or you may not, but committing ethical violations is a fast way to destroy your sense of self-worth.  Tell the person asking that you don’t feel comfortable in an assertive but non-judgmental tone.  If you are pressed or the situation becomes otherwise intolerable, consider speaking to your HR representative.

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    (Photo credit: Time Card via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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