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How to Stay Positive in the Workplace

How to Stay Positive in the Workplace
Cube Dweller
    Happy Cube Dweller

    Last week I wrote an article entitled “How to do a Simple Productivity Audit”. One reader who called herself “Cube Dweller” pointed out that she has little control over what she does and how she does it. As a result the tips I had advised were of no use to her or to the millions like her. So I started to think, what if you have no control over your day or the way you organize it?

    Micro Managers changing your focus every time they walk your way. Supervisors changing the rules of the game just when you got used to the previous ones. All of this can be frustrating to say the very least, so if you have no control over your job and how it is organized, is there anything that you do have control over?

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    Attitude

    The answer is something that is truly yours to own; your attitude. How you chose to react to your circumstances is within your own control, and no manager or supervisor can say otherwise. Nelson Mandela chose to react with dignity when he was released from Robben Island after 27 years of incarceration. He could have reacted with anger, but he chose compassion and forgiveness.

    When you are dumped upon, or your movements controlled or restricted, you can chose to react with frustration and anger or to react with joy, gratitude and positivity. Far-fetched you may think but isn’t being happy what we all want?

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    Happiness

    Wayne Dyer says it well when he says “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” We all share the same goal in life, and that’s not to win the lottery. It’s to be happy. If we look closely at all the goals we have, if it be run a marathon, write a book, or get a promotion, we believe that the experience that we will gain from achieving these things will take us closer to a happy place. So rather than struggle every day to achieve happiness, can we not just be happy now?

    Gratitude

    Again my cube dweller may tell me he or she has nothing to be grateful for when it comes to the workplace, other than the fact that they have a job, but stepping outside the workplace and looking at your life holistically. What are the things you are grateful for? Your family, friends, health, wealth, nationality, intelligence? Make a list of all the things you are grateful for. It is difficult to feel sorry for yourself when you are feeling gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful tool which can help you through difficult times.

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    Acts of Kindness

    When you do nice things for others not only does it contribute to a sense of well-being and satisfaction, it also means that the good will come back around to you. As it says in the bible, “What you sow so shall you reap.”

    Strengths

    Are you using your personal strengths? According to Martin Seligman the father of Positive Psychology, if you know your strengths and are using them for the greater good, you are much more likely to have a happy meaningful life. If you are working in a job that uses your strengths you are lucky, some people have to work difficult or boring jobs to feed their families, but hopefully these people use their strengths in different ways outside of the workplace. Ideally if you can use your strengths in the workplace it would make for a larger portion of your life where you feel you are making a difference. It may be something you want to consider, up-skilling or working towards having a job in the future that uses your talents and skills and makes you feel like your days are spent contributing to the bigger picture. If you can do this you will more likely be a happier soul.

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    So can there be positivity in the workplace? If you try to focus on what’s good in your life as opposed to what is bad, that will be a good place to start. Remember you are in control of your life and your thoughts; it is up to you how you choose to react.

    If you have any other tips for bringing positivity into your life and your workplace I would love to hear them.

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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