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Women in Focus

How to have a great day at work every day

by Alison Potter Published on 2 August 2013

Some days things just seem to go from bad to worse. From the moment you wake up – on the wrong side of the bed, naturally – to the never-ending to-do list at work, sometimes nothing seems to go your way. But that doesn’t have to be the case, there are actually lots of little things you can incorporate into your daily routine to ensure that you have a great day at work every day.

We sat down with Hypnotherapist Chloe Brotheridge, who helped us to devise a straightforward practical guide to making the most of your time at work, as well as helping to hone a happier and more successful you.

Start your day right

Firstly Chloe recommends that you always set up your day for feeling great, which starts the minute you wake up in the morning.

“At the beginning of the day write down 3 things you are thankful for, 3 things you're looking forward to and 3 things you do well. This really works wonders for improving your mood and setting yourself up for having a positive day,” she says.

It can make the world of difference taking a ‘glass half full’ attitude to things, so make an effort to squash negative feelings and instead focus on the positive elements. Not only does it make the bad stuff seem less bad, but emotions are infectious, so you will be lifting the mood of yourself and everyone around you.

Chloe says: “Mindfulness is the new buzz word in positive thinking. A recent Horizon programme ‘The Truth about Personality’ showed that 10-20 minutes of mindfulness meditation produced changes in the brain and result in increased relaxation and optimism.

“Try sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing. Notice either the air going in and out of your nose, at the back of the throat, or the rise and fall of your chest or belly. Start with 5 minutes per day and build up to 20. Measurable results can be seen in as little as 6 weeks.”

As well as taking on a more optimistic mental outlook, start being physically proactive to help your day run smoother.

Chloe recommends: “Make a list each day of the things you have to do, even the small tasks. It can help (if you can bear it!) to start with the most annoying or dreaded task. If you can get this out of the way, the rest of the day will be easy!

“On your list set a time frame for each task so you have planned out your day hour by hour. Then enjoy ticking each item off.”

Keep up the momentum

There’s an innate feeling of satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ve completed a job on your to-do list and popping a great big tick mark next to it.

To encourage you further, try splitting things into smaller, more manageable chunks, so you frequently get the positive reinforcement of getting things done.

“Make your goals SMART. That's specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. That way, you're really pinning yourself down to each goal and you'll know when you have actually achieved it,” Chloe says.

“So instead of trying to 'finish all reports as soon as possible', make the goal SMART and write 'I will finish the Taylor report by noon and then I will have a break'.”

Some afternoons seem to pass by in a flash when you have an engrossing or especially enjoyable job that you can lose yourself in. These are known as ‘flow activities’ and are a useful way to speed up your working day.

Chloe advises: “Try the 'Pomodoro technique' – set a timer for 25 minutes and completely focus on your task during this time. Then take a 3-4 minute break. This helps you to manage your time, focus your mind (so time goes more quickly) and makes you more efficient.”

You might have a mountain of work to do, but it’s important to your work output and your well-being that you take regular micro-rests to recharge. ​

Stop staring at your screen for hours at a time and go for a quick calming walk, or go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. The break will do you the world of good.

Chloe says: “Take a 5 minute holiday. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and use all your senses to enrich this experience. Imagine you're on a white sandy beach, sand between your toes, sun gently warming your skin. Envisage the smell of the sea air, the birds singing and the sound of the waves. Imagine as the breeze touches your skin that you're letting go of any tension in your body... then return to work refreshed!”

Make a positive permanent change

It’s unrealistic to expect things to go perfectly all the time, but what you can do is modify your attitude towards mishaps and mistakes, so that it doesn’t throw your whole day off course.

“Remind yourself that failure is not final and that errors are just stepping stones to greater success, since they teach us so much. Thomas Edison famously said of his many attempts at inventing the light bulb: ‘I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work’. Try to learn from mistakes and see criticism as useful feedback that will help you to do better,” Chloe recommends.

Effective communication is key in the workplace, so practise being assertive. Express what you think, feel and want in a direct, honest and helpful way – this will help you avoid conflict and feeling put-upon by your colleagues and seniors.

Chloe says: “The subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between a real and a vividly imagined situation. Practise some 'mental rehearsal': Imagine yourself dealing with situations confidently and assertively and envisage how you'll look, hold yourself, speak, the things you'll say and do and how others will respond to you."

“Athletes and public speakers do this all the time to prepare for events. With enough practice, your subconscious takes this on board as being reality and you'll be prepared to be confident and assertive in real life.”

Finally, the most important thing you can do to have a great day at work every day is to keep things in perspective. “Ask yourself: ‘In a year from now, will this still matter?' 99% of the time the answer is no.” Chloe adds.

Do you have a trick or tip for ensuring you have a good day? Tweet us @SofeminineUK!

by Alison Potter

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