I had originally titled this “3 Tips To Survive Your Cubicle”.
In reality, survival isn’t the end game. Anyone can survive.
We want to thrive; to exceed our common perception of what the cubicle stands for, and take advantage of the ways that we can not only make work more bearable, but enjoyable.
Let’s be honest.
The problem is that we immediately associate a cubicle with dead-ends.
It assumes we aren’t following our dream, or exploring the world, or living life to the fullest. That we have submitted to a simple paycheck breaking up weeks of routine, lessened only momentarily by the allure of the weekend. Then it begins again.
What most people don’t understand is that the negative feelings building up within the walls of your cubicle are completely up to you, and you alone.
We tend to peg career dissatisfaction on work loads, bosses, projects, paychecks, and more. Why waste your time and energy on such negative feelings? You aren’t guaranteed another second of life, so why not make the most of your situation, whatever that may be?
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here are 3 tips to help you find happiness in your cubicle.
Prioritize Experiences Over “Things”
Will that new t-shirt make cubicle life any better? Probably not.
Buying a car or expensive shoes often bring short-sighted pleasure, clutter, and fail to actually draw you away from the confines of your work.
If you are not satisfied in your cube, learning to efficiently get away is key to internal happiness. This doesn’t mean taking a month-long European escapade.
Are you spending your weekends laying around the house watching TV? Then going into work and sitting at a desk for 40+ hours ever week?
The burnout in these situations is inevitable.
Try going for a hike, exploring new spots in your neighborhood, or if you can, take a quick weekend trip away to cleanse your mind and inject a fresh perspective into a potentially stale lifestyle.
Create A Work Environment You‘re Proud Of
Make an extended effort to connect with the people sitting next to you. Keep your desk clean and organized. Use time efficiently, and understand that the skills you are honing will play an important role down the line.
Hate excel spreadsheets but stuck filling them out for 4 hours everyday? Complete them to the best of your ability, and use this time to visualize what you want next.
It doesn’t help anyone to mindlessly surf the web while pretending to be busy.
Think of it this way.
When typing a blog post or press release at work, I have two options to position my mentality. It can either be viewed as “just another project”, stacked on top of everything else i’m working on.
I can be excited that this new piece will allow me to showcase my work to upper-management, and further develop skills that will aid in my personal writing career.
Every minute you spend on something, even excel spreadsheets, is an opportunity to practice.
Remember Your Life After 5 PM
When most people reflect on their life, they consistently recognize one common thing:
“I spend too much time at work”
According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, more work leads to more stress and a lower quality of life.
We don’t always have complete control over our hours, but it is important to utilize your time at home and on the weekends to the fullest. Make an effort to unwind, focus on extracurricular activities, meet up with friends and family. Develop a life outside of your cube that is balanced.
Find a hobby that will define you outside of the office. Don’t be exclusively attached to your career, and work towards something that will give you a unique challenge.
One way to do this is to diversify your revenue streams. Research different ways to make money so that you are not overly dependent on a bi-weekly paycheck.
To keep this thought short and thorough, I will link to a previous post that fleshes this idea out in more detail.
Don’t use time outside of the office to complain about how much work you have or how you hate what you’re doing. You are only empowering negative feelings building up internally, ensuring that your cubicle will be a space of resentment and dissatisfaction.
Always remember that your cubicle isn’t your end. It is simply a building block for what’s next.
Your cubicle can be a seed of self-pity that slowly grows until it completely consumes your attitude at work. Or, it can be an incubator for learning and personal development.
Which route do you choose?