Preserving an upbeat attitude and maintaining a smile at work while everyone else frolics in the sun (or so it seems!) is definitely challenging during the summer months. The mountains, movies, and mall beckon while single parents sometimes feel they are missing out on the good times, especially while their kids are out of school and having fun with relatives or the other parent. No matter the season, even busy single parents can find ways to stay sane, serene, and motivated at work.
Think like a horse with blinders. Learn to focus on the path in front of you and not get distracted by what your coworkers are doing or not doing. There is almost always someone in the workplace who does not pull his or her share of the load, but that is no excuse for your own bad behavior. Work is the place where you need to think like a horse with blinders on and purposely refuse to look at others’ behavior so you can focus only on your own path. In other words, you need to perform your job to the best of your ability and let go of how your coworkers perform theirs. Training yourself to focus will preserve your energy so you can complete your own job tasks. Who knows? Your positive example may even rub off on others.
Suit up and show up. No matter how you are feeling or what is going on with you personally, work is not an option for most single parents. Do what you need to get organized the night before or morning of. Dress neatly in the appropriate work attire, and set aside your personal business in order to be “ready to go” once you walk into the office door. While others may bring their emotional drama and baggage to work, suit up and show up with a professional attitude. Your employers will especially appreciate an upbeat outlook during busy times of the year or during workplace transitions. When you act like a mature adult, even on those tough days when your patience is thin, people will take you seriously, and this may lead to improved evaluations and workplace promotions.
Act “as if”. While your current job may not be your dream career, you can change your perspective and perhaps even make the day go faster by acting “as if” you enjoy what you are doing. If possible, start the work day by tackling your most dreaded tasks first so you can move more quickly to those you like. Focus on the positive aspects of your job and try to spend more time on those if you can. Practice “acting as if” every day and you may eventually learn to appreciate the daily grind. If you work with a difficult person, you can try this approach with him or her as well. Your own changed attitude, including more positive patterns of interactions, can improve a strained work relationship and help the day to move along more smoothly.
Play games with yourself (but refrain from solitaire on your desktop!). Use self-imposed games, goals, or deadlines in order to inspire yourself to complete projects more efficiently. For big projects with long term due dates, break up the labor into smaller fifteen minute chunks until you reach your deadline. For monotonous daily responsibilities, commit to completing them by your morning coffee break or your lunch date with a friend so you have a goal to work towards. When working through a pile of inbox papers, entering data, or sorting through files, set a specific number to finish and then reward yourself at the end of the week with your favorite coffee drink, an inexpensive pair of earrings, or a rejuvenating bubble bath.
Listen to a variety of music or podcasts. Studies prove that music is a powerful influence on factors like mood, energy, and attitude. Moreover, people who try new things tend to be happier and more adventurous, so if you a have a computer desktop at work, try listening to a variety of online music stations to perk up your spirits and invigorate you, especially during the post lunchtime slump. Trying different kinds of music stations will add some spice your office routine. If your work situation permits, you might also try listening to motivational messages and educational podcasts online while performing repetitive tasks or data entry. Not only will the day fly by, but you will also learn something new.
Beautify and organize your work space. Surround yourself with pictures of family and friends, reminders of special memories, or images of beautiful scenery. Hang frames of your favorite quotations, Bible verses, or positive thoughts for visual reminders of your goal to stay upbeat throughout the work day. Clear off your desk clutter, organize your tasks and projects into manageable piles, and buy organizational bins, small plastic drawers, and colorful files at the dollar store to liven up your paperwork. Post an encouraging phrase in a place where you often glance for visual encouragement, and above all, remind yourself throughout the day that you can do it—at least until 5 p.m.!