Five ways to be happier at work

Is work related stress or anxiety the biggest threat to your health and workplace wellness? Many of us will be familiar with the symptoms of being overworked, so why don’t we take steps to reduce the harm it can cause?

Spring is about to arrive, and while you’re cleaning the clutter from your office or house, what about your mind? Taking care of yourself should be part of your job, but many of us are suffering in silence from an emotionally and physically draining sickness called 'being busy'.

We’ve wrongly come to accept that overload is okay. Being busy often equates to success; when your business is booming you need to run a mile a minute and keep a million balls in the air at once. And being too busy is no big deal, right?

Wrong. Being busy implies stress. Three quarters of people believe there is more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. Yes, stress can be helpful and motivating but too much and too prolonged stress can be a downward spiral. But chronic stress can be very damaging.

Here are five tips to spring clean your mind and stop feeling busy all the time:

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1. Eliminate the word 'busy' from your vocabulary

The Washington Post recently published some research that shows why the word 'busy' should be avoided. The research on the psychological aspects of language use explained that the words you use have more power than you think. Busy doesn’t recognize the good things you are doing. When you stop describing your life as 'busy', you can feel happier and less stressed.

2. Proper stress management 

You’re going to experience stress, left unmanaged it will destroy your productivity and health. Instead of feeling even more stressed when you take 'me time' to go to the gym, take a vacation or simply get a good night’s rest, think of it as part of your job. Studies show we are 20 per cent more productive when we work from a happy state of mind. Ditch the guilt by re-categorizing your life balance as a mandatory job responsibility, and put it in your calendar. 

3. Do not dive straight into work

If the first thing you do when you wake up is check your email, your phone or tackle yesterday’s lingering problem, stop. Throwing yourself into work immediately can harm your long-term productivity. It’s like going on a run without stretching first. You need to warm up first so you can better focus on work when it is time.

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4.  Stop multitasking

It may seem efficient on the surface, but multitasking can take more time in the end and involve more error. Research shows that shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 per cent of your productive time. Unfortunately, the busier you get the more multitasking you end up doing. Instead use the 80/20 rule; identify the 20 per cent of your tasks that are really effective and do them one at a time, and start with the most important task first.

5. If you're the boss, set the example

As a founder of a business or manager, it’s important to show that excessive busyness is not a good business model. Too often the perception that hard work is the only way to rise in a company keeps employees working themselves into illness. Prioritize keeping your team healthy and productive. Set priorities for all work so your employees can schedule tasks over a reasonable period of time.

"Busy" is worn like a badge of honor these days. We live in a world where we have more and more to do with less time to be at ease. We’re less able to stand back and think and worker smarter. When you don’t allow the time to slow down, you not only risk your health but also your business. So the next time someone asks "How are you doing?" and you respond "busy" treat it like a stop, drop and roll moment.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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