6 1/2 Steps On Getting Through A Long Day

Something tells me it's going to be a long day...

You can feel it. You've felt it since your alarm clock buzzed you awake this morning, since you wiped the drool from your cheek, and unknotted the sheets from around your legs, you knew, you felt it in your bones, that today was going to be long. You wished for anything to happen that would cancel work--an earthquake, a snow storm, an everything-must-go sale at Target--anything to make the boss say, "Due to inclement weather/$2.99 Dysons, the office will be closed today." Is that so much to ask? Yes actually, because we can control Target about as much as the weather. We can, however, control our outlook. Here are some tips to make this molasses coated day a little sweeter.

Step 1. Wake up slowly.

There's no need to "pop" out of bed to fool your brain into being awake. Any kind of sudden, vertical posture may result in a blinding head-rush and cause you to fall head-first into your dresser and ricochet half-naked into the hallway (not that I would know from experience). The key is to set your alarm ten minutes before you plan to rise. When it starts to scream into your ear, hit the snooze and close your eyes again. With your eyes closed, wiggle your toes. Then role your ankles in little circles. Start wiggling your fingers. Little movements like this will nudge your brain awake like you might a sleeping child. When we move/do things that prove we are conscious, our brain stops itself from going into the REM cycle where we dream and apparently become somewhat paralyzed. Wiggle yourself awake and you'll be in a better mood than you would have been otherwise.

Step 2. Hold the door.

As you approach the Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks entrance and see a line of approximately 43 people long, you will wish death upon all of them and their first born. Reel it in, Azrael, and do what you feel the least inclined to do: be kind. Hold the door open for someone who's also dragging him or herself behind you to the mile-long line. The word "thank you" makes people feel better. The moment in which someone recognizes that you've done something for someone is not unlike a boss saying thank you to make employees happy to work, or a struggling customer saying it to keep the tech support guy from slamming the phone down. It's a small step, but like waking up, we're taking this slow and steady.

Step 3. Laugh.

At anything. Even if it's nothing. Laughing does a whole bunch of stuff for us that rocks especially in the office:

  • opens mind
  • improves memory
  • boosts problem solving ability and creativity
  • reduces depression and anxiety
  • bolsters immune system
  • increases attractiveness (vaVOOM baby)
  • increases trust betwixt you and someone else
  • relieves muscle tension

By simply laughing out loud, you'll be doing yourself some good, which you can take a little solace in and another little step toward the end of this long, long, day.

Step 4. Ask for help.

You know you can do anything, you're Wonder Woman, you're Super Man, but even heroes need a hand. Conversing with co-workers will encourage a friendlier atmosphere when you can achieve something with them. Even if all they do is provide insight or advice.People love feeling like their opinions matter, or the experience can be qualified as "expertise." When people lie awake in bed wondering "What's it all for anyway?" most people take comfort in knowing that all they've learned up to now will somehow make someone else's day just a little better. When you're struggling, leave the cape on the hanger for a minute and go to someone else; make his day by giving him the chance to make yours. Don't forget to say thank you.

Step 5. Take a break

Studies proved that a good ole' diversion can increase productivity. Set a number of tasks before you take an little break before lunch--just a quick five or ten minutes away from work when you can watch something stupid. Don't feel guilty about the break and whip out War and Peace to make up for it. Embrace the fact that you are turning your brain OFF for the next five minutes with a photo montage of the grumpiest cat in the world. You are human. You aren't meant to do anything for too long and that includes trying to appear useful.

Step 6. Do a good job.

This requires patience. Schedules and deadlines tend to breath hard on our necks and we often want to DO EVERYTHING LIKE EVERYTHINNNG NOW just to get that bovine-breath devil off our backs. Getting things done immediately is an understandable goal, but it is not going to make the day go by faster. Juggling twelve balls always seems more impressive than the typical three, but imagine juggling flaming chainsaws instead of balls. Not only does it require more strength, it requires more focus as well. When you spend more time on one project, the more time it will take to complete. It's easy to jump from here to there to there to there back to here and over there again. That's called association. What we need is incubation--time to let our brains focus and understand what we're doing. Give yourself this kind of time and you'll spend less time wondering why time isn't moving faster.

Step 6 1/2 Do a good job on different things

Fancy, super cool studies have also proved that a diverse set of to-do items increases productivity and creativity. For example: I will not be writing about gift ideas all day. I love the holiday season as much as the next mensch but a whole day dedicated to the burgeoning lists of DIY stocking stuffers would make my heart shrink 432 sizes too small. There isn't enough coffee in the world to handle that much holiday spirit. You have to switch things up. Think of your work as a meal. You wouldn't dunk spaghetti into your coffee. You need something sweet to complement the savory, like a donut, or a cookie, or three donuts. For every coffee you pour, dunk a donut.

Follow these steps and time itself will see itself out in a way you won't even notice.

And you'll be like:

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