4 Tips to Help You Stay Happy, Present and Productive at Work

happy-at-computer-smileEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Lisa of Lisa of Getting to Zen

Have you ever driven to work only to not remember how you got there? You know the route you took, however you cannot remember a single detail along the way. It was like your brain shut off and you went on autopilot-you were there, but you were not there. This happens to us when we are not present. Not being present can cause us to miss out on so much of what is going on in the moment. It puts us in a past or future time which either has already existed or not existed yet.

For example, if while you are taking a shower you are thinking about the next thing that you need to do, like making a cup of coffee or selecting what you are going to wear, you are not fully experiencing the shower. And if while you are drinking that cup of coffee, you are thinking about what you would like to accomplish at work, you are not experiencing the joy of each sip.

1. Slow down

Avoid rushing through your morning routine. That means not sleeping until you absolutely have to get up and then rushing around like mad to get ready for work. You could be stressing yourself out before you even get into the office.

Set your alarm clock so that you have enough time to get up and have a relaxing morning routine. If you need 8 or more hours of sleep, this may mean that you go to bed earlier. Trading night activities or entertainment for a relaxing morning routine is worth it.

2. Pack and go

I have heard many times over the years to pack my lunch and lay out my clothes the night before, yet I have only done it a handful of times. In the mornings I often find myself searching for something to wear (and a lot of the time it need to be ironed) or scavenging through the refrigerator for something to make for lunch. And although I always find something in either of these cases, I often don’t feel good about it. Maybe the shirt isn’t as ironed as well I would like, or the lunch is a bit bland.

Getting yourself ready the night before you go into work will make a bigger difference than you to your ability to stay present in the mornings.

3. Listen to the beat

There is nothing like walking into the office after having a good laugh. Everything just seems so much brighter. In fact, many times I have found myself sitting in the parking lot outside of the office, waiting to catch the last bit of a story that I was listening to. It amazing how such a small act like turning on the radio station can transform your attitude over the course of a commute.

Listening to your favorite radio stations or cd’s are good ways to prepare your mind to stay present for the day’s activities.

4. Ease into it

You begin an exercise program by first warming up your mind and body for the challenge ahead. This is also a good way to start your work day. Begin by following a routine that gently allows you ease into your daily tasks.

If that means drinking a hot cup of tea and performing a mini-mediation, then do that. If that means making small talk with a few of your coworkers, then do that. If you don’t have the luxury of warming up for work while in the office, begin to get your mind ready during your commute, or during one of your early breaks.


Being present isn’t difficult to achieve, however it does take discipline. It can be a challenge to break our habit of living in the past and future. So if you find yourself going backward or forward in time, try to stay present by reminding yourself gently that the only time is now and that the only place is here. The more you do it, the easier it will become and you will find yourself having more moments where you are completely aware of the details.

Your world will come alive and burst with vibrant color.

Your Turn

What do you do to stay more present in your work?

Do you meditate or take a walk break?

Lisa (aka RunningBear) is the founder of Getting to Zen which includes articles on personal development, enlightenment, consciousness and awareness. You can sign up for her RSS feed or follow her on Twitter. In addition to blogging, Lisa enjoys long distance running, cooking, and sewing.

* Need help leveraging your superpowers? Then check out my Superpower Coaching to see how I can help you become more productive and feel less stressed out.

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Image courtesy of Torley

10 thoughts on “4 Tips to Help You Stay Happy, Present and Productive at Work”

  1. There are many days where I still find myself not in the moment (“zoned”) on the drive to work, and can’t really remember the trip. And the last statement is true…if you slow down and enjoy the moment, colors literally come alive.

    One tip that I have been pretty good at, and helps considerably, is “pack and go”. I carry my laptop and work materials in a backpack, and spend five to ten minutes every night ensuring that I have everything packed: laptop, ID, journal, important papers, etc. This is also the time that I’ll put my lunch in one spot (if packing) and also anything else going out the next day, such as dry cleaning, bills/mail, etc. Even if I’m glum the next morning, I have to look in only one or two spots for everything I need and I don’t have a missing knick-knack to ruin my day when I get to work.

    I think if I can add #1 to that list I would see a considerable improvement in mood and energy.

  2. Marree Saltaformaggio


    Really great tips! I have often found myself rushed when not prepared. Routines are very important to keep one from having to stress to find something to wear, look for the keys, etc. Being present and in the moment is vital to my career of nursing. NO ZONING OUT ALLOWED! This could create critical errors in patient care, but is also very important in our personal lives as well. Although it wasn’t one of the 4 tips, the part about practicing is very important as well! Over time the practice becomes habit, and it makes for a much happier morning!

  3. Hi Ed,
    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, slowing down is key to being present. I find that the more packed my schedule is, the less time I am fully aware of what is going on. Taking brief moments to check in on how you are feeling at any given time also helps with staying present.

    I completely identify with what you said about having to look in only one or two spots for everything, especially on those mornings when you are feeling glum–getting out of the door without frenetic chaos always lifts my spirits. 🙂

  4. Hi Marree,

    Glad you found the tips helpful. Rushing is never any fun. Not only is it stressful, but most of the times I rush, I end up leaving something behind.

    I never thought of it before, but routine is important to stress reduction. For the most part, we know exactly what is coming up next (wake up, eat breakfast, take a shower, go to work, exercise, etc…) In our routine we can plan those quiet times to check in on ourselves, see if we are present and recharge.

    Yes, I can definitely see how zoning out wouldn’t be good in your line of work. 😉

    Glad you mentioned practice. Just as with anything, practice leads to desired results. Staying present, does take practice, but it is well worth it. It is the difference between surviving and living. 🙂

  5. Hey there Jonathan. Thank you. Glad you found the tips helpful. Staying present is essential for living a life full of vibrant color. During your practice, you may experience setbacks, but don’t become frustrated. Soon you will find yourself being present for longer and longer moments.

  6. I’m a fan of immersing myself in life … sometimes that means slowing down, and sometimes that means speeding up … but it always means, being fully engaged.

  7. Immersing is what it is all about. It is better to be in the game of life than to sit on the sidelines. Very true, sometimes there are times that we need to speed up to keep up with what is going on. 🙂

  8. I love this perspective. It is so healthy to be present as much as possible in all aspects of our lives. However, I think that it is particularly poignant to stay present at work because so much of our work day can so easily become about procrastination, dwelling on the past, or fearing the future. I have also found that being in the present makes the time fly by!

    Thank you for these great tips. How often would you suggest taking a break or doing a five minute meditation for max results?

  9. Hi Devon,
    Sorry for the delayed response. Procrastination is avoiding the future by living in the past. Being present takes courage.

    There are different intensities of presence. For example, being a passenger in a car requires a different intensity of presence than being the driver.

    With regards to when to meditate…

    The best time to meditate is when you feel like you need or want to do it. Of course your schedule would have to be taken in to consideration. That being said, I like to meditate in the mornings before going to work. I call it “setting my intention for the day”. The days that I do this are far more enjoyable than the days that I don’t.

    I also take a quick meditation break at work during lunch. It gives me the focus and energy that I need to finish out the work day.

    My last bout of meditation is in the evenings to decharge from the day and prepare myself for a calm, centered, enjoyable evening with my family.

    If I feel annoyed, irritated, cranky or any other negative emotions,that is a signal to me to slow down, meditate and regroup.

    Now with all of this meditation it may seem that I don’t have much time for anything else, but you don’t have to meditate for long – sometimes a few minutes will do. 🙂

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