One measure of true professionalism is your ability to maintain a high level of productivity no matter your emotional state. But few of us can master this completely; we’re neither Vulcans nor secret agents. It might prove easier if would could easily separate how we feel about our job conditions and the people we work with from the work itself, but few of us can.
It stands to reason that job happiness affects productivity. In fact, you know it does. Think about the last time you had to do something you didn’t like, whether it was a workplace task or a household chore. Did you really give it your all, or did you just rush through it as fast as you could, cutting corners when possible, not caring much about the quality? I suspect we’ve all done this at work at some point, and the result was decreased productivity—not just for you, but also for your team and, ultimately, the company. Little acts of self-sabotage can eventually pile up to the point where they damage workflow and slow financial progress. If they pile up too far, someone’s going to notice and deal with the problem.
Many of us refuse to accept that we’re unhappy with our jobs, especially if the job is the culmination of hard work and tons of costly education, or pays handsomely. But think about it. Do you absolutely hate having to get up in the morning, even when you’ve had enough sleep? Does starting a new workday depress you? Does the feeling linger past that first cup of coffee of tea? Do you live for the weekend?
If so, welcome aboard the Unproductive Express.
Take the initiative to correct this disorder. Is there an aspect of your job you hate? Fix it, whether it’s a broken relationship with your supervisor or a nagging feeling you need more training. Take advantage of any program the company offers that may help, but take up any slack yourself. If your find that clinical depression, a sleep disorder, or emotional problems contribute to your unhappiness, work with your doctor to offset the problem with medication or therapy.
The state of your health is especially important. Do you get enough restful sleep? That alone can limit your productivity considerably. So can poor diet, lack of exercise, and ignoring your mental health. It’s not very hard to address these issues, even if you start slowly—say, by using the stairs instead of the elevator.
Boredom may be your worst enemy. Shake things up a little. Shuffle the items on your to-do list. Keep enough on your plate to stay productively busy, and jump to a different task when boredom threatens to derail you.
In addition, don’t be a stick in the mud or hole up in your cube all day. Limited socializing helps you lubricate the productivity process by forging stronger bonds with your teammates. Get to know your immediate coworkers better, and make friends with them if you haven’t already. Attend social functions, and learn what you can do to make each other’s jobs easier.
Events outside work will inevitably affect your work productivity at some point. You won’t perform well or even care about doing so if a family member or beloved pet is ill or if you’re about to welcome a new addition to the family. That’s as it should be. Minor distractions you can work through, however, as long as your workplace environment helps keep you on an even keel.
To some extent, you have a choice about whether or not you’re happy at work. Make the decision to work steadily toward happiness, if for no other reason than to increase your personal and team performance level. How you do this is up to you, so seek the counsel of others and do your own diligence before picking a solution—but do something, as inaction will only make matters worse.
© 2015 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, a.k.a. The Productivity Pro®, helps professionals achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. For over 20 years, her keynote speeches and workshops have helped leaders boost personal and team productivity, increase results, and save time at work. Laura is the author six books, most recently Execution IS the Strategy. Widely regarded as one of the leading experts in the field of performance and workplace issues, Laura has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today. Connect via her website, Facebook, or Twitter.