11 Ways to Have a Good Day at Work

1. Wake up 20 minutes early.

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Get out of bed, take a shower, eat your oatmeal, brush your teeth. Don’t putt around the house because you think you’ve got the time to spare—instead, use the extra time to show up to work early. Not only will it impress your boss but it will also give a calmer start to your morning. There’s never a need to curse traffic lights or school buses when you’re 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

2. Write down your goals for the day. 

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Think about the top three things you need to accomplish during the day and jot them down. Next to them, put how much time you’ll devote to each task. When the time’s up, move on to the next one.

3. Exercise.

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Whether it’s before work, on your lunch break, or after work—try to incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and increase endorphins. Less stress and more endorphins make for happier days.

4. Focus on one task at a time.

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Multitasking is overrated. When you’re answering emails while talking on the phone and scribbling down notes, nothing gets your full attention or your best effort. Concentrate on one task and complete it before starting something new.

5. Dress well.

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Dressing well doesn’t mean spending $500 on a new pair of shoes. It means wearing work-appropriate clothing that’s comfortable and flattering. Feeling good in your outfit will give a boost of confidence to your day.

6. Take meetings on foot.

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Skip the standard sitting meeting and take your talk on the walk. You’ll get exercise, fresh air, and new ideas. Bring along a small notebook or an audio recorder (found on most smartphones) if you need a way to keep notes.

7. Take breaks.

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Take breaks from your computer, your desk, and even your building. Breaks are important for both your physical and mental health. Stand up, look away from your computer, do a few squats, or maybe chat with a co-worker. Short breaks throughout the day will rejuvenate your body and mind.

8. Think positively.

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This one may seem obvious—if you want to have a good day, have good thoughts. Sometimes it can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you have co-workers who love to complain. Their negativity is not contagious, no matter how much it might feel like it. Find ways to remind yourself why you like your job. Smile!

9. Eat snacks.

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Snacking throughout the day will help to keep your energy high. Strive for a balance of protein, fiber, nutrients, and healthy fat in your snacks. Nuts, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are all great foods to keep in your snack arsenal. 

10. Listen to music.

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Most radio stations offer free online streaming. Find your favorite one, or use music services like Pandora or Spotify, and jam. If you can’t concentrate with music playing, get a pair of noise-canceling headphones to block out chatty co-workers.

11. Drink coffee.

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Caffeine sometimes gets a bad reputation, but coffee actually offers a lot of health benefits. Besides the boost to your energy, coffee provides antioxidants and can reduce stress.

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Finding Career Satisfaction

It’s pop quiz time.

What percentage of people picks the right career on the first go-round? (And by “right,” we mean it in the most subjective way possible; “right” by that individual person’s standards, and their standards only.)

A. 50%
B. 25%
C. 85%
D. 5%

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Answer: D. 5%

According to Neil Howe, economist and historian, only five percent of people know what they want to do as soon as they start their career. They get the job, stick with the same field until it’s time to retire, and live happily ever after.

For everyone else – the 95 percent – the “happily ever after” still comes. It’s just preceded by some careers they’re just not that into first.

All right, so if you’re in the 95 percent (and, statistically speaking, you probably are) how do you figure out what career is right for you?

1. Think.

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What’s your personality like? Are you outgoing and extroverted, or more reserved and introverted? Do you base decisions strictly off logic and reason, or do you take into account emotion and circumstance? If you’re having trouble answering those questions, the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a great tool to help you understand your personality preferences and learn how to apply it to your professional life. More information on MBTI can be found here and here.

How about your interests? If you had absolutely no responsibilities tomorrow – no work, no errands, no chores – what would you do? Whatever you choose, think about how you could parlay it into a career. For example, if you’d spend the day working on your car, you probably like cars. Would you like being a car salesman? A mechanic? An engineer?

Important to consider, too, is your lifestyle. If you want to star in blockbuster movies but you’re not willing to move or travel, then the silver screen probably isn’t for you. If you’re passionate about an idea and are fine with working beyond the average 9 to 5, then maybe you should open your own business.

Once you’ve figured out what’s most important to you when it comes to your lifestyle, it should be easy to eliminate potential careers from your list. Adding potential careers, on the other hand, can be a little bit trickier. This leads us to the next point.

2. Try.

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You won’t find a career you’re happy with unless you actually try something new. Apply to a new job. Take a course. Shadow someone in a position you think you might like. Volunteer.

For the most part, trying is low risk. The highest risk, potentially, would be quitting your old job to start a new one, and the worst that could happen is that you don’t like the new job. But remember, you didn’t like the old one either! So, really, what’s the problem? As the proverb goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics online for insight into employment outlook and wage estimates for careers you’re considering.

3. Evaluate.

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You’re in a new field, new job, new desk (or no desk). Are you happy? Do you find yourself watching the minutes tick by while you’re at work, or does time fly by without you even noticing? Do you feel challenged or bored? The faster time goes by and the least bored you feel, the better.

Of course, there are other things you’ll have to consider too. Salary, growth potential, benefits, work-life balance … the list goes on. You’ll know when it’s right for you.