How To Make The Most Out Of Your 9-5

Amanda Pena
Amanda Pena is one of those bridge and tunnel people that frequents the city for her job and the Chipotle on every other block. She hopes to be the next Cheryl Strayed and touch people's lives through her writing and/or find the best prosciutto deli in Manhattan.

Years ago, the 9 to 5 meant a place of comfort and complacency. It was the environment that every working professional dreamed of…until we didn’t anymore.

Being chained down by that infamous timeframe and stuck to a desk all day wasn’t so picturesque anymore. It’s an especially hard transition for millennials who are just entering the workforce and came from backgrounds in retail, babysitting, doing various odd-jobs, etc. We were used to having a weekday off or time in between the day to get life done.

As a recent college graduate who just entered the 9 to 5 world, I have made it a point to make my workplace or work area stimulating enough to compensate for those moments when I wish I was at home and not glued to my desk. Here are some tips you can apply to your day to day to help overcome your monotonous work routine:

 

1. Change your desktop background to something that is visually stimulating

My background right now is the Holstee manifesto. Whenever I’m bummed, bored or daydreaming at work, I refer to this picture for some instant inspiration or just a quick smile.

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2. Laugh

I’m fortunate enough to work with a comedian. Whenever I’m looking to laugh to the point of tearing, I go to him. Even when I’m having a terrible day and want to tune myself out from the world, I can’t help but sneak in some laughs to get me out of my funk.

 

3. Buy a desk plant

Coming to that same desk each and every day can be a pretty daunting task. A plant will give your desk some life (literally) and give you a project to attend to daily. Taking some time out of the day to water or maintain it or even just look at it can spruce up your mood. (That isn’t scientific or anything, but come on, baby cacti >>>)

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4. Bring in pictures of your life

Surrounding yourself with photos of your family, friends, vacations and three-legged dog is a reminder that there is a life beyond the four walls of your office.

 

5. Find your signature mug

Whether it says, “Your face looked better at 3 am,” features your favorite sports team logo or maybe your printed initials, find a mug that speaks to you. Taking breaks throughout the day to make some tea or coffee in your favorite mug gives you some special me-time.

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6. Post inspirational quotes around you

One of my colleagues has inspirational quotes posted all over her desk. To an outsider, it looks like a mess of words, but to her, it’s a way to boost her spirits when she sees something that reads, “Begin Anywhere.”

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7. Get up

If you work in a trendy start-up, then you probably have some designated spot with comfy couches, high tables and waxed mustaches where you can unwind for a bit. However, if you’re like me and work in a somewhere that doesn’t really have a place for that, then get up and take a walk outside your office for 10 minutes. Taking a lap around your block, or even just heading to the bathroom to stretch or doing a face exercise to wake yourself up will do wonders.

 

8. Take time for lunch

I don’t care how busy you are, you betta’ put in that time for lunch. You are never too busy to set aside some time for yourself to take a breath and enjoy a bite. Even if it’s just a few minutes of heading downstairs to your favorite pizzeria and eating a slice in silence, you make the time.

Sandwich on brown bag beside computer

 

9. Share your story

I don’t enjoy being the center of attention all the time, therefore I’m meticulous with my words. Though, in a workplace this can be limiting if you’re trying to bond with your coworkers. I’m not telling you to be the life of the party, but coming in on a Monday and starting a conversation about the past weekend opens up an opportunity for you to hear and be heard. Just making that effort to develop some sort of connection with your peers can elevate any work environment.

 

10. Keep your favorite snacks around

I keep Polly-O sticks in the mini fridge by my desk whenever I need a little pick me up (I’m also four). Whether it’s popcorn, apple sauce, granola bars, etc., keeping your favorite (and healthy!) snacks around allows you to indulge yourself every once in a while.

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