I think one of the hardest things for millennials to get a handle on is the forty-hour work week. If you’re like me, you spent four years in college taking classes at random times throughout the day and spending your free time drinking coffee with friends and studying late into the night. The thought process throughout college was always “as long as the work gets done!” Meanwhile, you have four to five months of intense work, followed by weeks of vacation time that is filled up with internships, vacations, and a carefree mindset.
Then you enter the “real world” and the idea of having months of vacation time is a thing of the past. Your workweek is long and monotonous and free time doesn’t exist. Getting work done at midnight? I haven’t seen midnight in years! (Ok, that’s a lie. Having a newborn, I’ve seen all hours of the night. However, that doesn’t mean anything productive is happening!)
It’s tough to stay inspired and not to get burnt out with this yearlong, grueling schedule – but it is possible. It just takes a little effort and realizing how lucky you are!
1. Change your perspective.
It’s easy to become a neg-bomb, spreading negative energy everywhere you go. However, when you realize that you are one of the lucky ones to have a job, it truly makes you appreciate the little things. I was laid off from a thankless job about two years ago. I hated that job, but once it was gone, I would’ve done anything for the little bit of money and a place to go every day. If you’ve never experienced unemployment, you are truly fortunate. Yes, it sucks waking up every morning and going through the motions, but at least you have some money in your pocket and you are ultimately advancing your career by staying employed. Count your blessings!
2. Get up and walk around!
The longest days at the office are those where I see nothing besides the inside of my cubicle. Even if I have no destination, I make sure to get up and go outside for a few minutes a day. A change of scenery will work wonders!
3. Listen to music or podcasts.
If you’re lucky enough to work in an office that allows headphones, use it to your advantage. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t listen to Pandora or stream my favorite podcasts. Not only does it help the time pass a little, it also connects you to the outside world. Need some podcast suggestions? If you’re a Bravo TV fan, you have to check out Watch What Crappens. I enjoy listening to 60 Minutes Podcasts and ESPN Podcasts,too. And of course, there’s Serial.
4. Set goals and accomplish them.
I’ve gotten in the habit of making a “to-do” list every Monday morning complete with every task I need to get done throughout the week. I like to challenge myself by trying to get my list done as early as possible in the week. Usually, I have to add a few items later than Monday, but that’s nothing like crossing off an entire list knowing how productive you’ve been. It’s also a great way to keep track of everything that you do on a day-to-day basis. This way, come review time, you can show your manager everything you’ve done!
I work in a cube-farm. Typical 7-foot, gray cubical walls separate me from my closest co-worker. It’s drab… really drab. And even though I work in a creative place, my officemates don’t believe in splashes of color anywhere. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t fix up my little corner of the world. I’ve decorated with personal photographs of David and Juneau (and when I get back from maternity leave, Finn will join as well). I bought a succulent that sits next to my computer and my desktop image is a photo of us on our wedding day. It’s little touches, but it makes it more personal and reminds me of what I go to work for everyday.