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Career Advice

5 Productivity Hacks That'll Make a Bad Job Better

Posted by Sarah Greesonbach

August 17, 2017

Some days, it seems like everything about your job is boring – your cubicle, your coffee cup, heck, even your outfit makes you want to take a nap. For many people, that sends them straight to hunting for a new job on Glassdoor. But you know what? What needs to change may not be your job. It may just be your daily routine. 

John C. Maxwell once wrote, “You’ll never change your life until you change something that you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” And it’s true. Successful people around the world all speak wonders about the power of a routine or a daily habit, which means that you might be one or two good habits away from putting out the best work of your life. 

Ready for a better workday? Here are 5 simple habits that can help you make your workday awesome, no matter where you work: 

Track your time


One of the most eye-opening habits you can develop in pursuit of a better workday is tracking your time for a week, either with pencil and paper or an app like ATracker or HoursTracker. You may be shocked to find out exactly how much time you spend in meetings overwhelm or how many times a day you stop what you’re doing to talk to your work friend. Identifying time-suck hot spots will allow you to make informed choices about your daily routine and pick out areas where you can tighten up how you spend your time. 

Tracking your time will also help you identify opportunities for pairing good habits with bad ones, like drinking water every time you check Instagram, or reading a nonfiction book during lunch instead of feed hopping your favorite blogs. 

Get creative first

For so many of us, our electronic habit starts with a random overview of email, social media, and news updates. But in reality, this fragments our concentration at what is often our most creative time of the day. 

Whether you’re revamping your wake-up-at-home habit or your sit-down-at-work habit, start your day with something focused and helpful, like journaling or reading from a particular book. If you have trouble staying focused online, use an app like Freedom or Anti-Social to block off time-wasting websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or your favorite news site during the morning hours. 

Pencil in a morning walk

You don’t have to wake up at 4AM and rock a P90X DVD to reap the rewards of exercise (though your abs might thank you for it). As little as 7-15 minutes of movement can give you enough of a cognitive boost to be beneficial (and there’s a video designed just for that). This boost will help you immediately after exercise, but it also improves long-term memory, cognition, and concentration, making for a better workday everyday. 

Drink water (soda doesn’t count)

Speaking of cognitive performance, did you know that even a mild level of dehydration can alter your mood and your ability to process information? That’s just to say a daily habit of hydration will reap big rewards in how you feel and how you think throughout the week. 

Keep a cup on your desk, and fill it and drink it every time you get up. Or keep a large water bottle handy so you can always have access to a drink and track your consumption all day. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces every day. 

Batch your email

For concentration’s sake, it’s time to stop being so available. Checking email a few times an hour is another daily habit that fragments your concentration and leads to the dreaded, “I worked all day but nothing got done” syndrome. Instead, it’s time to batch your email, checking and responding to messages one or two times per day.  

Batching email helps more than just your in-the-moment workflow – as it turns out,  switching between tasks and email frequently leads to a buildup of “attention residue” that can slow down your ability to process information and solve problems. 

Of course, if you work in a highly responsive workplace this may not be an option. In that case, speak with your manager to see if you can sponsor a team initiative to help people focus more and email less. 

Your daily habits have a huge impact on your happiness and performance in your job. Before you give up on being happy in your current job, see what you can do to change incorporate small but powerful habits into your daily routine to build a better workday where you work. 


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