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Dana Johnson

Book-obsessed twenty-something with a passion for poetry, hiking, and being happy with what I have.

Month

August 2014

Little Tips to Improve Your Work Life

I’ve been doing the corporate thing for 2.5 years now. What I’ve learned? That the littlest things can make a huge impact on your daily life.

Here are a few quick tips to make your time at the office (and those moments before and after) a little more enjoyable:

Drink water. If you’re anything like me, staring at a computer screen for hours on end will give you a killer headache. After months of popping ibuprofen constantly, I finally learned that filling up my water bottle 5+ times a day keeps my headache away. The more water I drink, the better I feel, AND drinking lots of water forces me to get up and walk around, which gives my brain muscles a little break.

Your office is like your room. Treat it as such. You spend the majority of your waking hours in your cubicle, make it feel comfortable. I don’t mean you need to bring in photos of your family, or purchase cute office decor… I simply mean that it helps to have comforts in your cube. A box of tissues, a hand mirror, a hairbrush, a coffee mug, deodorant, utensils, a blanket (I’m serious), etcetcetc…. All of these things will come in handy at some point.

Take a break when you need it. It can be hard to pull yourself away from your desk, but don’t underestimate the necessity of breaks. I bring an anthology to work with me everyday, and read a poem from it once or twice a day. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it allows me to focus on something I’m passionate about, pull myself away from my work, refresh my mind, then dive back in. You can benefit similarly by doing a crossword, having a casual chat with a coworker, or going on a walk.

Over the years, practicing these few little things have truly made me much more comfortable at work and have had a large positive impact on my attitude.

For some (much better) writing on similar topics, check out my articles on GenTwenty by clicking below:

 

Making the Most of Your Summer as a Young Professional

10 Ways to Give Back to Yourself Each Day

Whether Your Day Ends at 5pm or Not is Up to You

 

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Currently Reading: The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry

During college, I always disliked anthologies because they required me to lug around enormous, backbreaking textbooks, when we only read a fraction of the text anyway. Now that I’m out of school, I love the challenge that this anthology is awarding me.

As a nice little birthday present for myself, I decided to purchase a poetry anthology to sink my teeth into for the rest of the year. I’m taking my time with this one.

Edited by Rita Dove (go read “Thomas and Beulah”!), this book has a fascinating introduction about Dove’s process, and helps to frame the poems (and poets) that are included in this collection.

I’ve decided to work my way through the entire book- from Edgar Lee Masters to Terrance Hayes- and read each poem enough times over to at least understand the context of the writing. I don’t turn the page unless I feel comfortable with the page I’m on- Comfortable enough to discuss the poem openly in a room of academics. I make notes when I want to examine something further, and dive into deeper research. I circle words that need to be looked up. I dog-ear the pages of particularly striking poems. I’m having a blast.

What I like about this anthology is that there are no footnotes or parenthetical references; there is simply a small bio for each poet (date and place of birth, publications, an interesting fact), and the poetry itself. This means that every time something is in a different language, or references a work of ancient literature, I have to take the initiative to look it up. If I don’t, I’ll never learn!

This book is providing me with an interesting challenge, and is a great break from long work days. The most striking and beneficial thing I’ve noticed, is that poets I read in college never affected me the way they are now that I’m reading for myself. I recently Tweeted:

I read because I have a desire to learn. I want to be exposed to interesting poets. I want to challenge myself. I want to understand the framework of 20th century poetry, and come to conclusions based solely on the poems and their authors.

This isn’t the summer reading I typically do, but it sure is fun… And I think it will have a positive impact on my critical reading skills (one of my goals this year).

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