Mindset Shifts for a Better Workday

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Article originally written for Wekudo and can be found here.

It should come as no surprise that your attitude at work can impact your career. A bad attitude can be detrimental, while a positive one can have major benefits for you and those around you. Like most things, a shift in attitude and perspective begins at the individual level. Here are three mindset shifts I’ve personally adopted that have made me happier (and probably more pleasant to be around) at work.

The business professional dress code is a privilege, not a burden. Waking up early to straighten my hair, lint roll my slacks, and slip on a pair of heels has never been my idea of an ideal morning. I’d much rather slip into some comfortable jeans and pull my hair into a ponytail. As a result, I often found myself scrambling around my closet each morning desperately trying to find something suitable for the office.

This year, I decided to change my perspective. During an afternoon at the mall, I realized that I had endless options of what I could wear to work. There are entire stores dedicated to clothing for career women, full of beautiful blouses, pastel pumps, and flattering pencil skirts. It feels so silly to only realize it just now, but I finally discovered that dressing up for work could actually be fun–it just took an attitude shift for me to realize it.

It’s up to you to define your own work/life balance. Yes, it’s important that our supervisors and colleagues respect our personal lives and allow us the freedom to find balance between work and everything else. But what we each need to realize is that work/life balance looks different for everyone. What works well for your boss may not work well for you. I have coworkers who never take a lunch break–they simply eat while working and are perfectly content to stay at their desks. Personally, I find that a lunch break–even a 10 or 15 minute one–is hugely beneficial to my morale, productivity, and overall happiness.

Little things, like how you use your lunch break, when and where you spend your working hours, and how you portion out your vacation time can look different for each employee. Take the time to really identify what you need to feel balanced and in control of your life, and then apply those concepts realistically around your work schedule.

I apply this strategy during busy season at work when I need to put in extra hours. I used to log my overtime by staying late at the office, which inevitably resulted in me going home exhausted and hungry for a very late dinner. I’ve since realized that it’s much more effective for me to leave at a reasonable time, get in a quick workout, eat dinner with my family, and then log back on remotely to finish up my work. The amount of tasks I’m able to accomplish remains consistent, but my outlook and happiness is far better just by taking control of how and when I do my work.

Embrace the distractions that serve you. I admit, this mindset shift is a little different, but bare with me. I’m sure all of you can relate when I tell you that my productivity is constantly hindered by time-sensitive emails, lengthy phone calls, and coworkers stopping by to ask questions. Many of these distractions are just that–distractions (with little to no tangible value to me or my workload). But I’ve realized that some of these “distractions” really do serve me, and I’ve altered my mindset to embrace these positive tasks.

When I was asked to give a last minute presentation while I was already swamped with year-end work, I immediately felt overwhelmed and irritated. Then, I realized that giving this presentation would be a great development opportunity, and that the rushed nature to create a slide deck and talking points would be part of the fun. The attitude shift really altered how I approached the extra work.

Even small tasks, like being asked to retrieve an item out of storage, can be a major annoyance during a busy day. Instead of being irritated, I’ve started approaching the task as a good excuse to stretch my legs and get away from the computer screen.

Despite what the distraction is, I’ve found that embracing the tasks that serve me has been majorly beneficial to my attitude and outlook.

No matter what your workday looks like, never underestimate the power of a good attitude. Identify some of your major annoyances in the workplace and approach them with a positive mindset instead. I’m sure you (and your colleagues!) will be glad you did.

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