Office attitude: 5 ways to feel happier at work

Oct 13, 2011 at 5:01 p.m. ET

Even if you love your job, being at an office for 8 (or often more) hours a day can take its toll on even the most career-oriented among us. But workspace happiness is not as elusive as you might think. We’ve put together some simple but effective ways to inject more pleasure into your workday, aimed at boosting both your attitude and your productivity level.

Happy woman in office

1Make yourself at home

We realize you're not actually at home and work is a place to do, well, work. But bringing some of the comforts of home into your workspace can make the day so much more pleasant. Creating an atmosphere that feels less sterile and more familiar is often much more conducive to productivity because it helps you feel at ease. Workplace happiness can easily be boosted with some of your favorite items from home.

  • A vase you love filled with fresh flowers
  • Your favorite cardigan or sweater for chilly days
  • Photos of your friends, kids, pets and family members
  • Souvenirs that make you smile
  • Live plants if you have enough light are a great and homey touch
  • Office accessories in a cheerful color palette

2Take outdoor breaks

So simple, but so important -- taking breaks is a must if you want to feel better at work, especially breaks that involve stepping outside, even for just a few minutes. We understand you have things to do and you can't go strolling in and out of your place of work whenever the mood strikes you, but getting fresh air and a bit of exercise is paramount to maintaining workspace satisfaction. A short walk around the block or even just up the street and back can get your energy up, ideas rolling and blood flowing -- exactly what you need to be productive and feel good while you work. If you can't get outdoors, take a walk up and back down a few flights of stairs, roam the halls or do some stretching at your desk.

3Pack snacks

While the office cafeteria might be okay in a pinch or even for daily lunches, save yourself some money and feel better all day by packing healthy snacks to keep at your desk. Getting hungry means a potentially disastrous dip in your mood. For many people, hungry equals cranky, so do yourself (and your coworkers) a favor and don't get to the point where you're tempted to elbow people out of the way to get to the head of the cafeteria line. Some simple snack ideas include raw nuts and seeds (make yourself a trail mix and throw in some dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries and raisins), apples, and granola bars. If you have a fridge in your office, think about low-fat yogurt or hummus with vegetables for dipping.

Staying well hydrated is equally important for an even-keeled mood. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk all day so you remember to sip. Jazz it up with slices of lemon, orange or cucumber.

4Get organized

An organized desk is a happy desk, so take stock of your surroundings. If piles of paper are starting to overtake your work area, it's time to tidy up. We don't know about you but when our workspace is a mess, we feel disorganized and out of sorts -- neither of which are conducive to happiness at the office. Get rid of anything you don't need (memos from last month, pens that don't work, books you're never going to spend your lunch hour reading) and invest in storage (in cute colors) for the things you do need. You might also want to keep a box of tissues, screen cleaner for your computer and hand sanitizer close at hand for any mess that might pop up. If you have room, a dry-erase board is also a simple way to keep track of must-dos that might get lost in the shuffle of your iPhone or email reminders.

5Interact face-to-face

With so many ways available to interact electronically it's a wonder we ever even see each other in person anymore. But as convenient as email, texts and instant messages are, they can also be a pretty hollow means of communicating. Feel better about yourself and your workspace by making a point to interact face-to-face when you can. Instead of emailing that nice guy in the graphics department, walk over to his desk. Rather than sending your assistant an instant message, see if she has time for a quick coffee to go over the day's to-do list. Spending time with the people you work with will help boost your workspace bonds and help improve your mood. Smiley faces and "LOLs" are alright, but a genuine laugh shared between two people can do wonders to make you feel great for the whole day.

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