THE BLOG
05/01/2013 08:22 am ET Updated Jul 01, 2013

8 Tips to Improve Your Work Day

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If you are like most of us, you are going to spend most of your lifetime at work; so you should enjoy it. The best way to ensure you have a good work day is to take preemptive measures.

1. Get a healthy breakfast

Don't go for the leftover cake with milk for breakfast or the doughnuts. Have a nutritious breakfast. You have heard it 1,000 times, but there is a reason for it. WebMD has a great article about healthy breakfasts. It makes sense. If you have no energy to do anything, your day is not going to be all that great nor will it be very productive. Breakfast is important, but it doesn't get you off the hook for the remainder of the day. Pack a healthy lunch with a balanced meal. Try not to eat out as much. Don't eat the same thing every day. Stay healthy and energized. You also need to consider your long-term health as a way to ensure you have good workdays in the future.

2. Wake up on the right side of the bed

If you start your drive to work with negativity, you may be spoiling the day. One thing that I think is kind of ridiculous is when people start dreading Monday during the weekend and start looking forward to Friday by Tuesday. It is almost as though people expect Monday to be bad. Perhaps Monday is just a self-fulfilling prophecy. It becomes bad because people expect it to be. If you think about it, Monday should be the day people look forward to because they can start thinking about Friday and don't have to worry about thinking about Monday again until the weekend. Anyhow, don't put yourself in a bad mood to start the day. If that means not getting on the bathroom scale in the morning, listening to your favorite music on the way to work, or reading a little bit of your favorite novel before starting work do it! Remember not to get grumpy about things you have no control over. There is no point in doing so. You can't change the weather, you can't change the traffic, and you can't change political and economic condition. The thing you can change is your outlook.

3. Leave for work a little early

It can be stressful if you jump on the freeway and realize traffic is backed up for several miles. Yes, your boss may understand, because it happens and is out of your control, but you may get set back in the tasks you have to accomplish. Regardless of starting later than normal, no one likes to sit in traffic an extra 30 minutes. While leaving early doesn't ensure you will not get stuck in traffic, it gives a higher probability that you will be there on time. Leaving early also allows you to review your plans for the day and mentally prepare yourself to accomplish the things you need to do. You may also consider not opening your email right when you get to work. You may feel an urgency to get started earlier rather than taking the time to prepare yourself if you do so.

4. Develop friendships at work

People need friendship. If you are going to be spending so much of your life working, you should develop friendships with those you work with. Some companies are becoming smarter and have learned that happy workers are better workers. Some have made fun contests or even have groups of people who play sports after work. Make friends at work and spend a few minutes at the water cooler.

5. Speak highly of your coworkers

You are probably going to spend a lot of time with your coworkers, don't say negative things about them. Things tend to travel through the grapevine. Try to avoid participating in gossip about other workers. Remember, if gossip gets out, you are still going to be seeing the person you gossiped about every day at work. A rule of thumb I have always followed is not to say anything that you would not feel comfortable saying in front of the other person. And all that is said in front of others should be done so to improve the other. Instead of gossip, try to say only good things about people you work with. Compliment teammates for the good they do, brag about your teammates to other departments, and share enthusiasm when others are rewarded. If you truly put forth the effort to only say the good, you will be respected and have much better work days in the future than dealing with drama and hurt feelings of coworkers.

6. Keep track of the positive things at work

One company I have talked to has a small meeting at the end of each day. Everyone on the team says something positive that happened during the day. I think more businesses should take this idea to heart. If you are accountable to find positive things, you may look for them more often than you otherwise would have. Share positive experiences with your boss and coworkers, keep a small journal of positive things at work, or at least take a moment to appreciate the payoff of your hard work. Take time to recognize your own achievements and be the first one to compliment others on the positive impacts they make.

7. Set goals

Be engaged in self improvement. Life is always better when you have something you are reaching for. Life gets boring when you stay in the same place all the time. Don't get too comfortable. Set goals for the day. Have a checklist of things that you must do to go above and beyond what needs to get done.

8. Make a choice

Learn to laugh at yourself every now and then. There are many things in life that are serious and should be taken as such, but there are also great opportunities to laugh at yourself. So next time you are over stressed and trip on the last step up the stairs, don't let it tip the scale and send you into a science fair volcano-like outburst. Instead, think of how funny it must have been if you were directly in front of yourself watching. Come to think of it, the outburst following the trip up the stairs may be even funnier. If nothing else, smile. Just try it and see what happens. Smile when you walk in and see the receptionist. Smile when you get another stack of papers. Smile at your boss and coworkers. Choose to be the one who smiles.

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