14 Moves That’ll Make You Happier at a Job You Hate
It’s easy to tell someone else to quit a job that makes them miserable. But when it’s your job (and your livelihood on the line), it’s not always so straightforward. Maybe you recently moved into a new apartment, or signed a contract that literally says you can’t bolt for a certain amount of time, or just started a few weeks ago. It sucks, and trust me, I’ve been there.
Even though every minute you spend at your desk makes you want to scream, there are a few ways you can make the workday a little more bearable if you’re stuck at your job. Here are a few things you can try this week:
1. Listen to Something That Gets You Pumped Up
Sounds corny? Tell that to my running playlist, which I listen to even when I’m not working out. If you’re nodding your head to a pump-up song when you arrive at work, you’re doing something right.
2. Make Yourself Breakfast
Work is hard enough, but it’s only more miserable when you can’t find the time to eat breakfast. Make yourself something before you head out the door, even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.
3. Watch the News
I never thought I’d say this, but I watch the news every single morning. Sometimes it makes me smile, and other times I see something that makes me want to crawl back into bed. But it gets me thinking about something other than work, which I think is incredibly helpful.
And if the news isn’t for you, try a podcast.
4. Make Your Bed
A retired Army general suggested that making your bed is the ideal way to start your morning. It’s a small task, but it’ll make you feel accomplished and set you up to tackle everything else on your plate.
5. Get Away From Your Desk for Lunch
Seriously, put time on your schedule to get up. And then actually get up when it’s time.
Can’t do that? Treat yourself to a lunch you actually look forward, whether that’s delivery or something you pack. (And for your convenience, we have 52 lunch recipes for you!)
6. Seek Out a Project That’ll Make You Happy
Chances are that you don’t hate everything about your job. Find the one thing you’re actually excited about. And once you’ve gotten everything urgent out of the way, turn your attention to the thing you want to do.
Don’t have a project that makes you happy? Pitch it to your boss (here’s how). Not sure what would make you happy? Fill out this finding your passion worksheet.
7. Give Yourself Social Media Breaks
I’m not suggesting that you waste all of your time on puppy GIFs and your friends’ gossip, but go ahead and block out some time to space out for a few minutes. I know how hard it is to give yourself this permission, but unless your boss is a complete monster, chances are that he’s doing the same—even if it’s not on his calendar.
8. Text Someone You Care About
My closest friends and I are all in different cities, so we use an app to update each other on life things…and tell bad jokes. And when you’re miserable at your job, those moments can be a lifesaver.
9. Leave When You Know You Can Leave
I know it’s not possible to leave at 5 PM every night (or, ever). But when you’ve wrapped up everything you needed to do, go ahead and get the heck out of the office. And if you’re staying late all the time, create a calendar event for each weeknight to remind you to leave.
10. Take Your Work Email Off Your Phone
I’ve never reported to a boss who said that checking email on the weekends was required. So if your manager doesn’t mandate this, don’t do it to yourself. Looking at your inbox during your free time will only build up stress for the upcoming Monday.
And if your boss still sends weekend emails, check out these templates to get her to stop.
11. Write Out What You Dislike About Your Job
Sometimes there’s so much wrong with your work situation that it all gets jumbled together into one big mess. But writing out exactly what you dislike can help guide how you move forward.
Don’t like talking to customers? You’ll know that your next search (whenever you decide you can start it) should probably focus on jobs that would take you away from those kinds of roles, rather than putting you into another one.
12. Build Your Quitting Timeline
Want to quit your job? You’re not alone. But you can set yourself apart by simply writing down an action plan to quit.
If you have a contract, confirm your end-date and create a quitting timeline around it. But if you’re at-will, figure out when you want to leave and design your to-do list around that date. More importantly, make sure you’re doing something every weekend to achieve it.
13. Learn Something New
This tip has two parts. For your next job, figure out if there are any skills that you’d need to be an even stronger candidate. Then, research and practice the heck out of those things. Your work might not manifest itself in a new role ASAP, but this is a great way to stick to your established quitting timeline.
But also, don’t be afraid to do something fun for yourself. In the past, I’ve taken my crappy jobs as reasons for learning how to cook new things. It might be a different hobby for you, and that’s totally OK. Find something that relaxes you, and give yourself the freedom to learn it.
14. Reach Out to People in Your Network (and Tell Them About Your Plans)
I know—weekends, right? Can you think of any time that’s less ideal for networking?
Well, unless your miserable job is to sit around searching for a new gig, you probably can’t dedicate a lot of hours to searching during the week. So, set aside a little time on the weekend to write those networking emails you want to write. That way, when you’re ready to really kick off the search, you won’t have to re-activate your network.
Oh, and if you’re afraid of getting lost in the shuffle, save your drafts and schedule them to go out on Monday morning instead.
If I had a cure for the way you feel about work, I’d ask for your mailing address and send it to you right this second. But unfortunately, that’s just not realistic. Still, a few simple tweaks to your approach can make you feel a little less anxious about being stuck at a bad job.
Your work might be miserable, but that doesn’t mean every second of your day has to be, too.