10 Ways to Stay Busy and Sane at Work

Gratitude-OfficeI’ll be the first to say it – my gratitude abounds for having a job. In these economic times, I understand that there are many people who are not employed. For those of you who do have a job there are times when the idea of staying sane at work seems completely impossible. This is especially true if you are like me and have a desk job – one where you may spend hours and hours simply sitting in the same place without reprieve. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself busy and stay sane during work hours; you simply have to know what to do.

Here are ten strategies that will provide the relief you seek:

1.     Plan your day. Gratitude starts when you know what needs
to be accomplished. Write out a daily list of tasks and plan out your day before it begins. This will help to keep you focused and on task throughout the day because you’ll always know where you stand with all of your projects and tasks.

2.     Allocate times  for distraction. Allocating specific time periods when it’s okay to become distracted can help make the rest of your day more productive. More productivity equals more gratitude! Let your colleagues know when your “office hours” are and try to make the rest of your time more productive.

3.     Box your time. Rather than working on a project until it’s completed, resolve to work on a project for a set period of time; then change your focus. This will keep you productive and eliminate some of the tedium associated with working on the same project for long periods of time.

4.     Organize your email. You can increase sanity by keeping your inbox organized, especially
if you get a lot of correspondence on a daily basis. Use folders and filters to keep your email inbox organized and it will be as beneficial as having a tidy desk or cubicle.

5.     Have a power hour. Resolve to dedicate the first hour of your workday to getting as much done as you can. Avoid your email inbox, favorite blogs, and voicemails, and get right to work. No matter what else happens during your day, you can at least have peace of mind about your productive hour where you got a lot of work done.

6.     Listen to music. I am constantly listening to music while I work. I even have a playlist called ‘Gratitude’. Music can help you settle into your work routine. Low-volume music can drown out noises in the office without interrupting other people around you. Choose music that helps you focus without distracting you.

7.     Keep yourself hydrated. Hydration is important for a variety of health reasons. Fill up a personal water bottle and keep it with you all day. Keeping a water bottle will prevent you from having to get up over and over to get more water and ensures that you stay hydrated throughout the day. I keep a water pitcher on my desk – I fill it up in the morning and again in the afternoon.

8.     Alternate between boring and active tasks. By shifting your focus between tedious and repetitive tasks and those that are more engaging, you can keep yourself more happily involved in your work throughout the day. Give each task category a time frame and alternate back and forth between them for best results.

9.     Eat lunch away from your desk. Having a lunch break away from your desk can disrupt your productivity routine, but provide some much-needed relaxation and respite from your work. I try to get away when ever I can – during the spring and summer I like to go for walks outside and listen to the birds singing. That is what I call gratitude! Enjoy your lunch break and return to your work with renewed energy and focus.

10.  Avoid personal activities at work. Respond to personal emails and deal with personal phone calls on your own time. By clearly separating work and home, you can focus yourself better during the day to get more done.

Bottom Line

You can stay productive, alert, and sane during work hours if you plan out your day and really think about what you’re doing at work. It doesn’t take much forethought to have a good workday, but the time you put into planning can pay off big time! A little planning now will make for a gratitude filled day later!

Be Well.
The Gratitude Guru


  1. shawn on October 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Good tips! Just having a job today should make us grateful. But I like how you showed how to be productive as well as grateful. My favorite was to eat lunch away from the desk. My lunch break is usually an hr long I make lunch, play with the dogs & read the mail. Its enough to break the day and then I’m ready to get back at it.

    • Paul on October 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to get refreshed! There are times, Shawn, when I simply walk out one door, walk around the building, and come in the other door. In one short minute (maybe 2), I stretch, I can get the blood flowing, and I get a mental break. It works wonders!

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Barry on October 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Great post Paul. I have found that when I write some of these things down so they are in front of my face, I have a much better success rate.

    • Paul on October 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

      “In your Face!” is a great not-so-subtle technique that usually works, Barry!

  3. Shilpa on March 18, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Thanks for the article – can you please share your ‘Gratitude’ playlist as well?

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