“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
– Alvin Toffler

Making the Most of Your 9 to 5

Your office can be more than just a place to sit and work. For many, the workday represents a chance to meet new challenges and to contribute to something important. However, capitalizing on such opportunities requires the right mindset. Ensure that you’re getting the most out of every day at the office by following these four simple pieces of advice.

Make Smaller Decisions in Advance

When it comes to your productivity, every decision counts. Whether it’s what you’ll eat or how you want to color code your spreadsheet, your workday is full of decision-making. And each one of those decisions requires mental energy. To keep your mind available and ready for new challenges, make decisions on relatively simple things like meals and outfits the night before. Recent studies have shown that saving smaller decisions for your downtime gives you greater mental bandwidth to make the choices that count during the workday. With the basic pieces already put in place, you’ll be ready for whatever surprises may arise at the office.

Take on Big Tasks Early

When you know in advance that a time-consuming task awaits you at work, plan to address it as early in the day as possible. According to Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, the two hours after you wake up are when your mind is most productive. How you choose to use these crucial hours has an important effect on the rest of your day. By taking full advantage of this productive energy, you can handle your most important needs efficiently. You’ll have more space to complete other tasks throughout the day.


Give Yourself Room for Breaks

Just as your mind has times conducive to productivity, it also benefits from small breaks during the work day. In addition to helping you maintain your energy level, breaks help you sustain productivity and retain more information. When you give your mind space to relax, it may just reward you with the breakthrough that you’d been searching for. Take a long break or schedule them strategically throughout the day.

  • Take a Walk: A 20-minute stroll is good for both your body and your mind. Walks increase blood flow to the brain, helping you think more creatively.
  • Let your mind wander: When you daydream, you may be surprised where your mind takes you. In between visions of your fantasy vacation or your favorite TV show, your daydreams may drift into worthwhile ideas and spark some creativity.
  • Make Fun Weekend Plans: Make yourself happy and give yourself something to work towards. Sometimes thinking about life outside the office can be just what you need to get back on track.


Develop Positive Office Relationships

Whether large or small, effective companies are marked by cooperation, collaboration and positivity. When you’re surrounded by people you trust, the office becomes a more desirable and productive space to be in. Getting to know your co-workers can be both easy and fun when you take any of the following approaches:

  • Offer to Help: When a member of your team is dealing with a challenging project, offering your assistance is a great way to build a positive rapport while remaining professional. Even if they choose to handle the task themselves, your offer will speak volumes and can open the door for future collaboration and conversation.
  • Let People Talk About Themselves: Sometimes getting to know someone is as simple as listening. Next time you see a less familiar coworker in the break room, ask them about their day, their weekend or a shared interest. When you start a relationship by listening, you establish a precedent for honesty and friendliness.
  • Bond After Hours: Sometimes people prefer to open up once they are off the clock. Join your coworkers for an offsite lunch or happy hour to form a bond that still exists when the office is closed.

Whether it’s 9-5, 8-6 or somewhere in between, the time you spend at work should be a stimulating experience. By embracing positive habits and working towards collaboration, the office becomes a dynamic space for strong ideas, good relationships and energizing projects that make life more interesting and the day more satisfying.