Small changes can make a big difference

Seven ways I’m making my working day happier

Having moved from a relatively secure, senior role within a successful health start-up to venture into the world of self-employment, I decided I should use the change in direction as a time to check in with myself about how I want to work.

I wasn’t thinking about any big five-year plan or life-long goals, they’d have to come later. I was just interested in taking stock of the small stuff. The every day details that cumulatively have a big impact on my overall happiness at work.

This list will certainly change over time but here’s seven small ways I’m managing to make my working day happier:

1. Starting the day with the worst job
Most mornings I look at Trello and realise that I’m lucky that there are lots of things on my ‘high priority’ list that I enjoy doing and want to start. But there are always jobs that I’m less keen on. A few weeks ago, I made a promise to myself to do the jobs I least wanted to do first. Barring the odd call, or early morning meeting, I usually get these jobs out of the way by mid-morning meaning I can then move onto the things I love.

2. Positively choosing to work on projects
We’re lucky enough to have found some fantastic clients to work with in our first few months. Each one is different and the variety of our work has been fantastic. This variety has given me a chance to think about the areas of my work that I really love and want to develop more of at The Happy Seven. Being self-employed can be tricky but finding great clients and positively choosing to work on stuff, rather than feeling obliged to, certainly makes my working day happier.

3. Stopping for a cuppa
I don’t work at home every day, but when I do I make sure that when the kids come home from school, I stop and have a cuppa. It doesn’t mark the end of my working day but it’s a really special break and one I look forward to even if immediately afterwards we’re all running around again.

4. Setting new rules for emails
Having a new email account has been like starting a new notebook. There are a few practical challenges at first but this simple change to my email address has been incredibly liberating. With my new email, I set myself new rules. I now only check my emails every two to three hours – and rarely after I’ve finished work for the day. After around a month, I’m  still sticking to my new rules and it’s making me much more productive when I am working. And much happier when I’m not.

5. Listening to music while I work
This is simple. Listening to good music while I’m working is not new for me but it is essential to making my working day happier.

6. Reading for the first part of my day
I love to learn new ways of doing stuff. Very often these new things relate to things I’m doing at work. With young(ish) children and a full-on workload finding quality time to keep up-to-date is often one of the things that I can finds falls by the wayside when I’m busy. Now I set aside the first part of my day to learn. Sometimes it’s only half an hour but its an incredibly satisfying time that I’ve come to value hugely.

7. Collaborating with good people
We recently ran a creative workshop for a client to develop concept ideas for the National Astronaut Programme. We were a small team that day and everyone in the workshop brought a different set of ideas and approaches. Each had a wealth of experience in their specialist area and even more experience in their everyday working lives. It was a full-on day that was hugely creative, at times challenging and filled with good humour. One key thing I remember about the day, was that we all listened, valued each other’s contributions and worked to get the best from each other. As I left at the end of the day I felt tired but very happy to have spent good time with good people.

By Nina Whitby