This post is inspired by my love and respect for the movie Office Space, the 1999 comedy about corporate drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) who hates his soul-killing job at software company Initech. Instead of quitting, he decides to just “stop showing up.”
While we can all relate to Peter’s pain, there are ways to do better. We can sit and complain about our jobs, or we can flip the script and do things to improve our own mental health inside and outside of work. Here are a few ways to get through the day when you aren’t totally in love with your job:
Use your voice. This may seem like an obvious point, but sometimes supervisors or bosses may not be aware of the little things they can do to make work more enjoyable and more efficient. Let them know how they can boost morale around the office, be it by bringing in coffee for the staff or streamlining daily meetings into a platform like Slack. Speak up; your suggestion just may change the game.
Volunteer at an organization. If your day job isn’t fulfilling or you aren’t doing what you truly want to be doing, put your energy into an organization that may need your help. There is no shortage of volunteer work. I started out volunteering my time reading submissions for a local literary magazine and it blossomed into a job I absolutely love. No regrets!
The power of stretch breaks. Whether your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, to lift things or to walk around, stretch breaks are for everyone. I personally recommend stopping and stretching for five minutes every hour. Not only will this get your blood flowing and give you a break from your gruelling work, but you’ll also prevent repetitive strain injury. Yes, this is a real thing, especially for those who do monotonous tasks for more than four hours per day.
Professional development. Upgrading is one of the best perks, and most jobs will have free courses their employees can participate in to upgrade their skills in a current position. Who knows, this may even land you a promotion or put you one step ahead of someone who’s also bidding on a new role in the company. You grow and the company grows; it’s win-win.
Wireless earphones: listen to inspirational podcasts. Get motivated. There is power in words. We already know this, so give yourself a boost and check out some inspirational podcasts. Here is a great link to get you started. Select something that speaks to you. I love hearing about the happenings of the Canadian Literary Community, so my personal favourite is Fainting Couch Feminists.
Set daily micro goals. Work can be overwhelming when you think about the big picture projects and the outcomes they are expected to yield. But when you break things down into daily chunks and set small realistic goals for yourself, everything seems a lot more doable. I have become very accustomed to using Wunderlist. This app allows you to create reminders and organize your tasks into titled folders with due dates. Only the “due today” tasks are visible, taking away that overwhelming feeling.
Replace small talk with big talk. “How was your weekend?” If you are anything like me, you cannot stand questions like this. Ask me a generic question, expect a generic answer. In fact, I dislike them so much that I go out of my way to avoid all opportunities for social interaction because I know that the conversation will never go beyond weekends, weather and gardening. The hack? When someone asks you a mundane question (and let’s be honest, these questions are merely to mask awkward silence), respond with an exaggerated answer. What did I do this weekend? I climbed Mt. Everest twice and then I wrote this post about it. In other words, don’t be afraid to infuse a little humour into your day. Laugh big, live big.
Give yourself something to look forward to: the after-work treat. And finally, my favourite hack of them all. Treat yourself. At the end of a hard work-week full of hack implementation, grab your pals and stroll on down to the local hotspot and enjoy that glass of wine. You deserve it. Monday is just around the corner.