How does your day start?
Meditation? Exercise? Reading? Or maybe you have to get the kids ready for school, solve a family crisis or battle traffic.
Arriving at work with a positive attitude isn’t always easy—especially if your day starts with an argument or an accident on the freeway—but there are things you can do to eliminate stress and begin your day in the right frame of mind.
First, it’s important to understand that mood affects productivity. This is especially true with creative endeavors such as writing and design, or in those instances where you interact with customers or work on teams.
A few years ago, researchers Nancy Rothbard and Steffanie Wilk studied the work habits of call center representatives at a Fortune 500 company. The representatives who started the day in a good mood delivered superior results and felt more positive after their calls. Colleagues who arrived in a bad mood suffered a dip in productivity of up to 10 percent.
Writing about their research in The Wall Street Journal, Rothbard noted, “Many organizations wrongly assume that employees dealing with things like stressful commutes or worrisome family problems can simply check their emotions at the door. Most can’t. But there are steps that both employees and employers can take to reset the bad moods that compromise job performance.
“One important way employees can reset a negative mood on their own is by creating a so-called intentional transition. That might mean stopping for a coffee, listening to a favorite piece of music or taking a more scenic route to the office. As our findings show, it’s more than just a feel-good strategy—it can set the stage for making a better impression at work.”
Adds Jo Miller in a Daily Muse post, “A positive mood lifts your brain’s dopamine levels, resulting in improved cognitive performance. So build a mood-lifter into your commute, whether it’s listening to music, calling a friend for a virtual coffee chat, watching an uplifting TED talk or catching a highlight from your favorite late night show, and enjoy the resulting boost in brainpower as you arrive at your desk.”
I have to admit that I am rarely early for an appointment, but I find that when I build extra travel time into my schedule my mood is much better. So another simple strategy is to just leave your house 10 minutes earlier than you normally would for work or a meeting.
Having a mantra—a favorite quote, saying or prayer—that you can say to yourself in stressful situations is helpful, too. A mantra keeps you centered and focused on what is important in your life and helps you recognize and eliminate those things that are distractions.
The interesting thing about Rothbard and Wilk’s research is that employees who started their day in a good mood tended to stay that way throughout the day. They felt better after talking with customers and provided better service on subsequent calls. Unfortunately, those who arrived in a bad mood also tended to stay that way.
Managers and organizations can help facilitate better moods by creating a culture that encourages a positive start to the day. Fairly easy tactics include building in time for socializing at the beginning of the work day, having food available (cookies, for example), holding quick motivational meetings and sending emails that contain positive messages about the company’s goals.
How about you? How do you get yourself or your staff in a positive frame of mind?