Work doesn't have to be a slog. For a lot of us, our lives are defined by our jobs. "What do you do?" we're always asked at parties. If you don't like how you answer that question, it might be time for a change. Whether you want to learn to enjoy the job you have, or find a job you love, you can learn.
Take regular breaks. Studies show that workers who take short breaks more regularly are happier and more productive than workers who take one long break during a shift. If you have any control over the way you take breaks, it's better to give yourself 5-10 minutes every hour or two, instead of an hour off in the middle of the day.
It's also important to take time off and stay away from work for a while, as well. Taking some time off helps to energize workers and allow them to come back to work more productive. If you have vacation time, use it. If you don't, allow yourself the occasional "mental health" day if you can afford it. Call in sick. It's necessary to help keep yourself happy and productive.
Get to know your coworkers. If you work with a bunch of strangers, your job will be a lot less enjoyable. Try to get to know a few people at work that you can talk to. This gives you something to look forward to when you clock in for the day.
Try to organize after-work drinks, or birthday celebrations whenever possible. Giving yourself a time to socialize about non-work-related stuff will help you to bring everyone closer together and make your work relationship stronger as well.
Avoid coworkers who regularly complain about work, or who try to slack off while you're at work. Hanging with this crowd will always have you feeling bummed to be at work, instead of energized about the day. Try to hang out with the more positive crowd at your job.
Find little ways to improve your work skills. One way to entertain yourself at work is to give yourself little challenges to improve. This will not only keep you in good standing with the management, but will also give you a little challenge in addition. If you're the competitive sort, this can be a great way to motivate you to improve.
Give yourself a work-related challenge in the short term. If you work at a restaurant, aim to get all the prep work done as early in the day as possible. Keep track of your record times. If you're in an office, see how many different spreadsheets you can complete before the day is out.
Stay focused on quality over quantity while you're at work. If you've just started a job making sandwiches, make it your first challenge to make every sandwich perfectly. Then make them without consulting your cheat sheet. Then make them quickly.
Decide to learn something while you work. Work doesn't have to be a forced march. Use it as an opportunity to learn something and improve your life, or as a chance to learn something about a particular hobby you have.
Decide to figure out how to do work-related things better. If you don't know how to do something on the computer, decide to learn on your own and then surprise your bosses with your initiative. Take on new responsibilities that will require you to pick up new abilities on the fly. Challenge yourself.
If you can work with headphones and stay focused and productive, try listening to informative podcasts while you work, or audiobooks. Learn something about science from RadioLab or listen to This American Life for some human stories.
Work under a different manager. Many people who are unhappy with work are really just unhappy with their bosses. Bad management can affect morale considerably. If you like your job in a general way, but feel like you just don't connect with your manager, ask about transferring or switching your jobs to work under a different superior.
This can be tricky if your manager does the scheduling. Talk to someone in the HR department if you work at an office, to avoid awkwardness. Or just say you're "looking for a new challenge."
Sometimes, it might just be a matter of switching shifts. If you can't stand the day manager at the restaurant where you work, switch it up so you're only working in the evenings.
Remind yourself what you're working towards. Work isn't always the most fun thing in the world, which is why you get paid to do it. But keeping steady employment allows you to do things you want to do, or live a certain lifestyle that you enjoy. It gives you independence. Remind yourself of this regularly and make a point of celebrating it.
If you're working at the entry-level for a while, Try to keep in mind that every day you work at that level is another rung closer to the top. Keep climbing the ladder at the company where you work. Keep succeeding and doing the best work you can.
If you're unhappy at your job, but are paid well, just Try to remind yourself what you're saving up for, or how you're using that money to help support yourself and your family. Keep things focused on them.
Leave your work at work. If you bring your work home with you, it's like you never leave. Make a point of finishing up your work for the day before you leave, then leaving everything behind. Don't take little things to do with you at your house. Just leave them at home.
Keep separate computers, if at all possible. If you have a work computer, keep your work stuff there. Only use your personal computer for fun things. Don't cross-contaminate them with stuff.
If you work from home, consider creating a separate "office" space where you can work, to separate your work and home life. Or head out to a coffee shop or library to do your work separate from where you eat and sleep.
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