7 Small Things to Boost Happiness and Productivity at Work
Much has been written of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule or the law of vital few. Distilled to its essence, the principle states that 80% of results stem from roughly 20% of cause. The 4-Hour Workweek author Timothy Ferriss is a strong advocate for the idea when it comes to maximizing efficiency in the workplace. In the words of the much lauded author, “Simplicity requires ruthlessness.” Over morning coffee with Reiki master and personal trainer Jenni Finley, I was recently offered a new spin on the business rule. Finley invites us all to consider 80% of our happiness and well-being, in fact, stems from 20% of action. Could it be small adjustments yield the biggest results? Keep scrolling to find out how to tweak your day-to-day for maximum good vibes.
The vast majority of any given day is spent servicing tasks that do not yield the highest results. “On a regular schedule, you’ll sit and do that 80/20 analysis and ask yourself what’s the 20% of my life that’s getting me the most impact, the 80% impact, and how do I stop doing the rest,” says Ferris. The process of identifying time-killers in your routine, delegating them out, or eliminating them entirely frees you up to focus on what really pays, both emotionally and economically. “When I’m really feeling overwhelmed, I actually focus on the negative, which is a good thing. I focus on eliminating as much as possible before I focus on doing more. What can I get rid of?” he continues. Make a list of your daily tasks. Which 20% of sources are creating 80% of your success? Set a time with your team or supervisor to discuss action steps to free up your workflow. Spotlighting your energy on what matters most will leave you feeling more fulfilled in addition to maximizing gains.
“We take millions of actions and make thousands of choices every day. Twenty percent of your actions generate 80% of your happiness. Look through the lens of choosing actions to fuel your happiness,” says Finley. Define your positive 20% and gear up to guard it relentlessly. Ask what small actions make a big difference. Once you’ve clearly defined what motivates you, relate to those actions as sacred. “If the one hour you go to the gym or meditate leaves you grounded and centered for the whole day, that affects your productivity. Keep that hour,” says Finley.
Language creates and shapes our world. Have integrity with your word and honor your commitments, especially to yourself. “When a person knows he won't be able to keep his word, he honors his word by making that situation known to all the people who will be affected. He deals with the consequences of not keeping his word, cleans up whatever messes have been created, and makes new promises that restore workability to the situation at hand,” says The Three Laws of Performance author Steve Zaffron. Without integrity and authenticity, there can be no workability. Practice awareness, and when you give your word to something, do it.
A strong sense of contribution and self-worth is integral to a fulfilling workplace experience. Get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses as an employee. Make a list of your best talents. What achievements are you most proud of? What makes you feel most valued? Write it out. If you work on a team, set up a time to review personal goals with your immediate supervisor. Pinpointing your unique contribution will enable you to scale your role in the most effective direction.
Indulgences come in many forms. Think of this as emotional splurging. Invest in opportunities that contribute to your overall well-being. Be intentional and conscientious with your rewards. As personal trainer and businesswoman Jillian Michaels states, “Whenever you are making an important decision, first ask if it gets you closer to your goals or further away. If the answer is closer, pull the trigger. If it’s further away, make a different choice. Conscious choice making is a critical step in making your dreams a reality.” When you consistently align yourself with choices that leave you feeling empowered, your outlook becomes one of free-flowing positivity and growth.
If you have a major project or goal to tackle, break it down into small, easily manageable action steps. As a mental exercise, mapping out a play-by-play enables long-term goals to feel accessible and realistic. Track your progress and give yourself rewards for each benchmark. Incentivize your own growth, and ring in each day with a sense of accomplishment.
Setbacks happen. Having a clear sense of the endgame will make the small failures and occasional missteps feel like stepping stones, rather than dramas. Perspective is critical to maintaining positivity and forward momentum. Stay on purpose. In the infamous words of Saks Fifth Avenue founder David Campbell, “Discipline is remembering what you want.” It’s easier to hit a target that’s clearly marked.
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What is your best secret for staying happy on the job? Tell us in the comments below.