5 Ways to Improve Your Workday (That Have Nothing to Do with Work)

Struggling to get out of bed in the morning because you’re dreading what the day holds?

Dragging your heels as you get ready for another day at a job you don’t love?

Here are five tips you can use when you’re not at work to transform the time you are there.

1. Take care of your basic physical needs.

Sleep, food, and exercise are fundamental to keeping your energy high. When you aren’t taking care of your basic needs, your work can be impacted in so many ways.

You’ll be less effective. You’re more likely to be cranky and see the negative side of things. You’ll be less resilient to setbacks throughout the day. You’re likely to be less patient with colleagues and clients. You’ll be less likely to spot opportunities to enhance your career.

The exact same day can be an interesting challenge when you’re rested, well-fed, and well-exercised, and a total bummer when you’re exhausted, hungry or not nourished, and sedentary.

Taking care of your basic needs by getting enough sleep, food-fuel, and exercise is one of the single most important steps you can take to improve the way you experience your workday.

2. Find and maintain a hobby.

How whole is your whole life?

If you’re not passionate about work, and you’re not feeding your soul outside of work, it’s only natural you feel lethargic about going to work.

If you come home from the job you don’t love and just kill time until bedtime, you are not making your whole life very whole.

Even if you love your job, your body, mind, and spirit need to feel they’ve done something else in between leaving work yesterday and arriving today!

Strive to do something out of work that offers diversity or contrast in your day. For example, if you sit at a desk all day, choose an activity that gets you moving physically. If you have a very verbal, social job, choose something that allows you to be quieter and more reflective. If you are isolated at work, choose an activity in which you will meet lots of people. If you’re always inside to do your job, get outside. If you spend all day thinking about work-related topics, read a book that has nothing at all to do with those topics.

3. Create at least one morning (or pre-work) ritual you love and look forward to, and honor it daily.

If you don’t want to get out of bed because you’re dreading the race around the house to get out the door and off to work, it’s time to add something positive into your morning routine.

Instead of a morning full of “have tos,” add in at least one “get to.”

Maybe you get to sit for 15 solid minutes and read a magazine or a book with your coffee. Maybe you get to stretch or do yoga. Maybe you get to have 15 guilt-free minutes in bed, cuddling with your puppy or kitty, before you get up. Maybe you get to listen to music and just breathe for five minutes.

It’s incredible how adding just one morning “treat” ritual can transform your morning energy. This puts a beat between getting up and going to work—you’ll feel like you’ve done something for yourself and that can make you feel a whole lot more willing to jump into work—especially work that you’re less-than enthused about.

4. Get uber-clear on your boundaries between work and home.

Are you leaving work at work, or are you mentally carrying it around with you in the time you’re not at work?

Oftentimes, we carry our to-do lists, anxieties, perceived mistakes, and so forth home with us and aren’t really present enough to unplug and recharge in our out-of-work environments.

Identify clear boundaries, and then stick with them.

For example, will you check work email or complete work projects from home? If so, decide how much time you will allow for that nightly (or daily, depending on your schedule), and set a timer for that amount of time.

If you never really left work yesterday, no wonder you’re resentful of going back today! It may help to create a ritual at work that allows you to tie up loose ends and put the day to rest.

5. Develop at least one or two out-of-work friendships with coworkers/colleagues.

Being positively connected to the people around you fuels happiness! Having an out-of-work connection with colleagues can help you look forward to the work day because seeing them at work triggers those positive social memories, and gives you a bigger picture of the people you work with.

Keep your eyes out for someone you find interesting, funny, bright, friendly, kind, or quirky that you’d like to know better, and ask him or her to get together outside of work. If you hear a no, let yourself feel disappointed for a moment, and then congratulate yourself for having the courage and the proactivity to reach out!

When you do get together, try to follow a 50/50 “shoptalk” ratio—spend no more than half of the time talking about work. Learn about who the person is outside of the 9-5 (or whatever your hours are)! Then enjoy seeing them at work and feeling that wider sense of connection.


How does your out-of-work time impact your workday? Share in the comments below. And then share this post with anyone you know who needs a workday boost!

2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Improve Your Workday (That Have Nothing to Do with Work)”

  1. Hi Carrie,
    Those are five wonderful and wise tips! Thank you for sharing.
    I know of you through your extraordinary and coruscating cousin Kim McCoy! Kim and I work together, and her consumate professionalism and kindness, to say nothing of her amazing competence and capabilities, brings me much joy and happiness.
    I eagerly look forward to receiving your newsletter. Thank you!
    I hope our paths cross one day. Let me know if you ever make it to DC.
    Warmest wishes,

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words (about my blog *and* my wonderful cousin), Chris! I’m delighted you subscribed and look forward to having you as a reader–and, I hope, to meeting one day. 🙂

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