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7 Proven Steps to a Better Workday

Build these activities into your routine. You will get more done and feel better doing it.
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While making a big sale or launching a new project can transform an ordinary workday into a great one, there's also the other side of the coin to consider: boredom, burnout, and anxiety can make the hours drag on endlessly. But you can minimize or even eliminate those problems by giving your daily routine a simple tune-up. Here are seven things you can do to make every day as satisfying as it can be.

1. Wake Up Early

Feel like you're playing catch-up even before your day starts? You’ll feel a lot less frazzled if you wake up early and take a calm approach to your morning routine. Set your alarm clock for at least an hour before you need to leave for work; this will give you time to linger over a cup of coffee and actually enjoy a real breakfast. A calm and relaxed morning at home will start your day on a positive note, paving the way for a better day at work. Often the key to making this part of your routine is to get to bed earlier.  

2. Create a To-Do List…

...and stick to it! Optimize your time by writing out a list of what needs to be done, starting with the most important items first. While you're at it, get your calendar out and make "appointments" to take a break or two during the day, along with a specific time to have lunch.

3. Eat Healthy Snacks

If you're eating a big, fat-laden meal at lunchtime, you are more likely to be sleepy, foggy, and irritable later in the day. Avoid the afternoon slump by packing healthy snacks, including fruits and vegetables, to keep your brain clear and your body energized.

4. Walk Around

Research shows that prolonged sitting is a risk factor for illness and death. Get up and walk around for 10 or 15 minutes several times during the course of the day. In addition to improving your overall health these quick, active breaks will boost your endorphins and improve your mood. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can; even standing at your desk rather than sitting can be beneficial.

5. Get Outside

We've all just been through the most irritating winter in recent memory, and now we can make up for it. Most buildings have tables or benches outdoors, so grab your lunch and head outside. Escaping artificial light and sitting in the sun, even if only for 20 minutes, will help your body soak in some vitamin D. Breathing fresh air and simply being outdoors will do wonders for your outlook; you'll go back inside feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever is next on your agenda.

6. Stay Positive

Be conscious of the vibe you send to others and try to radiate only positive energy. Smile at your coworkers, have friendly conversations with the people on the elevator, and try to banish negative thoughts. Your confidence and positivity will rub off on your coworkers and higher-ups, creating a happier workplace for everyone. And by doing these things, you can train yourself to feel happier each day.

7. Beware the Couch

As appealing as the couch and a glass of wine sound after a long day of work, your body and mind will thank you if you get active before you relax. Go for a run or walk, practice yoga, or hit the gym after work. Physical activity releases endorphins that not only make you feel great immediately after your workout but continue to lift your spirits over the long run.

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Last updated: Mar 12, 2014

PETER ECONOMY

While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.




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