5 ways to have a better day at work

Two people giving each other a high five

Sometimes being at work is a drag, plain and simple. Even if you love your job, you could be stuck in a rut and in need of a morale boost. Conventional wisdom tells us that when we’re feeling this way, it’s useful to get a change of scenery and switch things up—and that’s good advice. But why not take it further? Here are five things you can try to give your day a lift, each of which comes with its own inherent rewards.

Get some exercise

We all know that exercise is good for the body and mind, but most of us still don’t get enough of it. So the next time you need to get away from your work—or your co-workers—make it doubly productive by squeezing in a workout. If suiting up for a run or spending an hour at a yoga class sounds too daunting, that’s okay. Simply taking a 10 or 15 minute walk can move the health needle, reset your creativity, and release endorphins that’ll send you back to your desk with reduced stress.

Have lunch with a stranger

Everyone you work with has an interesting story to tell, whether it’s about the project they’re working on, or the weird pet they had as a child. So find someone you’ve never really talked to, and invite them to lunch! Studies show that interacting with people we don’t know well can make us feel more connected to our communities, and influence our overall happiness. If you’re afraid it’ll be awkward to invite a random co-worker to eat together, just set up a batch of “lunch meetings” over the course of a few weeks. Explain in your invites that you’re on a mission to get to know everyone, and you’ll come off as a smart networker—just the type of person your colleagues will want to have lunch with.

Finish that thing you’ve been putting off

You know what we’re talking about—that one dreary little task you’ve been conveniently ignoring all week (or all quarter). The habit of putting things off is common, but it can breed stress while you periodically remember “that thing you need to do,” and berate yourself for ignoring it. Although procrastination is a complex mental process, there’s hope: you can defeat it by just getting started. In all likelihood, momentum will take hold and you’ll finally get it done—and then feel great. A sense of accomplishment that you can ride into a fully productive afternoon is a surefire way to have a better day.

Help somebody

Aside from the obvious benefits for the people being helped, charitable activities are widely associated with increased levels of happiness for the volunteers themselves. So do everybody some good, and incorporate a little charity into your workday. You can contact your local food bank to see if you and your team can spend a day helping out. Or, invite a local class or student organization to visit your company and learn about your industry. Websites like LinkedIn for Volunteers and VolunteerMatch.org can help you track down opportunities.

Skip work entirely

A recent survey showed that in 2014, Americans forfeited 169 million days of vacation. But taking time off to rest is important—especially for those of us with responsibilities like family that keep us working seven days a week. So do your best to use those vacations. It doesn’t have to be a grand trip; consider staying local and catching up on reading, spending time with your family, or simply binge-watching some TV. You’ll go back to the office a little more clear headed and relaxed.

There are lots of ways to break out of your routine if you’re feeling uninspired at work. Next time you feel sluggish, try one of the tips above. Not only will they help you mix things up, but they have their own benefits for your mood and productivity—benefits that could have you falling in love with your job all over again.