Are you sitting in your office with zero motivation and wondering how to make the workday go by faster? I feel your pain and have been there time and time again in my office cubicle constantly staring up at my clock and waiting for the workday finish line.
Well, I’m here to share with you a list of actions and suggestions you can utilize to learn how to make the work day go faster. Instead of trying to come up with good excuses to miss work last minute or putting up your out of office sign, these tips should at least get you through the workday.
I really don’t expect you to use all of them (you can though) but hopefully, there are a few of them that will help you get through the day quicker and much more motivated.
35 Top Tips on How to Make the Workday Go By Faster
1. Stop Watching the Clock.
Watching the clock is probably the #1 culprit when it comes to prolonging your work day. By keeping your eyes on the clock you’ll never learn how to make time pass faster.
Maybe you have a really nice wall clock in your cubicle or in your office with a door. Even though it’s a really cool clock and your coworkers have all commented on it, sometimes it might just make sense to block it out.
Either tape a piece of 8 1/2″ X 11″ printer paper on top of it so you can’t see the time or just take it off the wall and put it on the floor facing away.
Sometimes just the simple act of not knowing what time it is, can help the time go faster. Yeah, and while you’re at it, turn your phone over so you can’t see the face of it which usually shows the time.
Also, cover up the time on your computer which is usually at the bottom right of the screen. You can use a Post-it Note to conceal it.
2. Headphone Alert. Put Them On!
There isn’t an easier way for me to get into my own world than to don my headphones and listen to something that will pass the time away. Not only will it block out distractions but it will help you stay focused on the tasks at hand. Here are my suggestions on what to listen to.
- Podcasts – There is a world of podcasts out there that you can listen to that will take you out of your low-motivated state that will help pass the time.
- Audiobooks – I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of time in the day to sit down and read a book. But if you’re sitting at your desk and have a lot of time, you might just want to figuratively pick up that book, in audio format, and listen to it throughout the day. It’s a great way to read books in a different manner.
- Music – I bet most of you expected that to be the first option but, for me, it’s always after the two above. I do pay for Spotify and often tune into that app on my phone and can essentially listen to any type of music I so desire.
- Sports Radio – I am a big sports fan and love to listen to sports radio on my phone by streaming my favorite radio station. Sports is a passion of mine but if you’re more into politics or another passionate topic you can find a radio station that fits the bill.
- YouTube Videos – Chances are you probably won’t be able to watch your favorite YouTube channel during your working hours. But, during breaks and during your lunch hour, you can escape by watching a few videos to break up the day.
3. Move it, Move it, Move it.
If you’re sitting at your desk for hours with essentially no real movement, you should start incorporating some type of activity into your workday. How to make the work day go faster can certainly be aided by adding some active motion to your regular work routine.
Instead of having to get up and head outside (which is great too), you can practice ergonomic exercises right in your office or cubicle.
You can do specific exercises like arm circles, shoulder and chest stretches, and low-back relief stretches right in the comfort of your own office.
It will not only help the workday go faster, but these exercises will also keep you healthier and motivated.
4. Get Into a Clean Routine.
Make it a point to constantly keep an eye on what is accumulating on your desktop. If it’s starting to get a little too cluttered, take those extraneous file folders and move them into your file cabinet where they belong.
Take those excess desktop accessories that might be hanging around and put them where they belong. There is nothing like a clean desktop to help you focus and increase office productivity.
I always make it a point to regularly clean my desktop but I always target at least one day, typically Friday afternoons, to get my office in ship-shape so that when I come into work on Monday morning I’m ready to hit the ground running.
5. Chunk Your Time.
Breaking up your day into specific chunks is comparable to breaking up a project into various smaller tasks. If you look at the whole project as this insurmountable arduous exercise to complete, you’ll never get it done.
But by chunking it up into smaller tasks, as in a project management tool with due dates, predecessors, and dependencies you can get the large project done by completing the smaller tasks in succession.
Think of your workday in the same terms. If you break it up into hourly chunks where you have certain tasks to accomplish in specific blocks of the day, the full work day will tend to go by a lot faster.
And if you think this goes against the stop your clock-watching tip, not really. You can simply use the alarm on your phone to go off when a specific time block is up without having to watch the clock. This will keep you on track.
6. Have a Snack.
It’s always a fun little interlude to head up to the cafeteria or, if you work from home, into your kitchen and grab a snack. Depending on the time of day, you might want to make it a snack that doesn’t have caffeine.
If it’s before 11AM you’re probably safe with a chocolate bar but in the afternoon you might want to stick to some fruit or nuts to replenish you. Drinking coffee or eating anything with caffeine in the afternoon could adversely affect your sleeping at night which just might lead to a longer day tomorrow.
If you can keep a mini fridge under desk like I can in my cubicle, you can keep a container with apple slices, carrots, or celery with peanut butter and you’ll always have access to healthy snacks while sitting at your desk.
7. Take a Break.
My preference when it comes to taking a break is to get completely out of my work environment and head outside for some fresh air. It doesn’t have to be an hour work walk or anything like that. It could be simply a quick 10 to 15 minute refresher.
Just a little time away from my desk and cubicle to recharge. It certainly helps me and I feel ready to go when I get back to my office.
8. Brainstorm with Coworkers.
Take some initiative and set up a brainstorming meeting with your coworkers to talk about the latest projects and upcoming projects. Talk about different techniques or methods you could utilize in your daily work schedule.
Someone in your group might have an innovative approach to a specific task that the group could incorporate into their own work routines. You’d be surprised at what others might have to offer that could help you get through each day more productively.
Not every coworker will open up arbitrarily about their work habits but if it’s in a formal meeting specifically related to brainstorming, some tidbits just might leak out that will help everyone do their jobs better in the department.
9. Shadow a Coworker.
I’m not talking about any coworker. Typically shadowing has to do spending time with someone in a department other than the one in which you work to try to understand what they do each day.
I’m not talking about that. You should shadow someone in your department that you respect and who is a smart, productive worker. Spend an hour or two with that person and see how they perform their job.
I did this same exercise with someone in my department and discovered some shortcuts that they used to do their job. An example of this is the following. Each day I had to go into different servers to check out some nightly automated jobs to ensure that they ran properly.
My routine was to log in and out of many different servers to check the jobs. What I learned after shadowing a coworker was that he had a tool on his desktop which allowed him to simultaneously be logged into multiple servers.
After the shadowing session I was able to install the tool on my computer and it ended up streamlining my daily processes. I do believe that this new tool helped me minimize a tedious process I was undertaking each morning to help me be more productive and help my workday go by faster.
10. Automate the Mundane.
Mundane tasks can certainly add a level of monotony to your workday and make it seem like the day is never going to end. If, at all possible, try to automate any of your mundane tasks so you don’t have to go through the motions.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you work in Information Technology and one of your daily morning tasks is to ensure that the nightly reporting-related SQL jobs ran properly.
You decided that instead of manually checking the jobs simply create a SQL job that will loop through each nightly job and display the status in a report and send it to you in email as a notification.
Then, each morning, all you have to do is check the emailed report and look for jobs that failed. So, you end up only checking the failed jobs instead of manually checking every one.
11. Outsource the Tedious Tasks.
Where I work they hire interns for the summer. The benefits to the intern is that they get to learn the business and specifically more about the field of study related to the department in which they are working.
In other words, they get some hands-on experience in the field they are probably studying in college such as IT, Finance, Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering.
The benefit to the company is they get cheap labor who can work on less-strategic tasks.
This is a great opportunity for you. If you have access to an intern you can outsource tasks that are tedious to you and take up time in your day. Maybe it’s filing stacks of folders related to Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable that have been accumulating on a table in your department.
Maybe you can use the intern for data entry of customers or leads into a spreadsheet which will be imported into an order-entry system. Whatever you can offload or outsource the better.
If you don’t have to trudge through those tedious activities and can outsource them you can concentrate on more strategic projects that will help the day go by faster.
12. Look to the Future.
Each morning, instead of agonizing over your daily commitments and how you’re going to complete them, look to the future instead. What I mean by this is to think of something that you can look forward to in that day.
Maybe it’s a workout or a bike ride at lunchtime. Maybe it’s a walk with a coworker on a break or during the noon hour. Maybe it’s just heading out to your favorite lunch spot.
Just the thought of having something to look forward to during the day should help the time pass that much quicker.
13. Switch up Your Routine.
Instead of doing the same routine day in and day out, switch it up to keep you motivated. If you typically take a break for lunch right at noon, switch it up and head out at 1:00. As long as this is acceptable to your boss, it might just be the best option for you.
First of all, it allows you to work hard up until it’s time for you to head out for lunch but it also will make your afternoons shorter as a result.
14. Get Adequate Rest.
You might think this is a given but you’d be surprised at how much your sleep affects your motivation the next day.
Numerous studies have indicated that getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night will allow you to be more productive and ready to tackle the working day.
15. Check off Each Task you Accomplish.
Each morning simply write out a list of tasks you expect to accomplish that day. I like to write them on my dry erase board. As you complete each task, as minor as it could be, cross it off so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment.
Before you know it, your list is getting smaller and smaller and the time has flown by.
16. Plan out Goals for the Next Week.
One way you can look to the future is to plan out tasks and goals that you hope to accomplish over the next week. You could even go as far as the next month but I think it’s better to limit it to a week as you may not even be sure about what you’ll be tackling a month in advance.
This limited short-term planning process will help you focus so that you can be engaged in those tasks over the next 5 working days.
17. Create a Training Course for Your Coworkers.
This suggestion may be a bit aggressive and it ensures that you have available time to perform this exercise. But if you have the time, this exercise can be extremely beneficial.
The advantage of creating a training course for your coworkers are numerous. It will:
- Allow you to become immersed and engaged in creating the course.
- Your superiors will be impressed by your proactive actions.
- The course research and development will allow you to learn more about the topic than you originally knew.
- Delivering the course will lead to questions from coworkers which will lead to even more research and knowledge on the topic.
- Your coworkers will not only learn more to enhance their jobs but they will be appreciative of you going the extra mile to train them and to help them succeed.
18. Go Hard During Your Most Productive Hours.
Some of us are more productive at work in the morning. Some are more productive during the afternoon hours. I think it’s important to plan your day based on your individual working habits.
Are you more productive when you just get into work? If so, plan your most arduous tasks during this time so that you can get through them early. This will get your day off to a productive start and the time will appear to have flown by.
Are you more productive after lunch? If that is the case, keep your morning tasks simpler if you can so that you can gear up for your more productive afternoon working hours.
It all depends on what works for you.
19. Buy and Use Fun Desk Toys.
I like to buy and use cool office supplies and fun desk accessories during my work days. Why do I do so? They’re not only fun but it helps makes the time go by faster during my workday.
These little fun desktop toys just help break up what could be a long and monotonous day by adding some fun and frivolity to it.
Move your chair to another location. Even if you work in a cubicle like I do, I still have room to move my chair a few feet to my right rather than in my typical location.
If you work in a flexible work environment, move your location to a different part of the building. It just might motivate you and have a positive psychological effect on your work.
The work day might just fly by as a result.
21. Reward Yourself at the End of Each Day.
Ya know that list of tasks you wrote on your dry erase board of what you were intending to accomplish that day? Well, if you end up completing them all reward yourself with a small snack, an ice cream, or your favorite latte.
This will just reinforce what you’ve been working for and will give you a sense of satisfaction that you have completed the goals you set for the day. Also, knowing that there might be a carrot waiting for you at the end of the day, your day might just speed up as a result.
22. Brew a Cup or Get a Cup.
I’m one of the fortunate ones who have my own office coffee corner and tea corner in my office cubicle. I simply purchased a single-cup coffee maker and a small electric kettle so that I can either brew up a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate whenever my heart desires.
I find that this not only breaks up the day and makes my day go by faster but it also gives me the opportunity to share a cup with coworkers. This tends to lead to a conversation about work or just life in general.
If you don’t have your own coffee corner just get up out of your chair and head to the cafeteria and grab a cup of coffee. I find that most companies have, at a minimum, an office coffee pot but most have fancy coffee machines that will produce pretty decent coffee or hot chocolate.
23. Challenge Yourself.
Instead of simply jumping into some mundane tasks when you get into the office that can wait until later in the day, challenge yourself! So what do I mean by that? Here are some simple examples:
- Learn a new skill that will help your job performance.
- Meet with a completely different department manager and ask them how you can help them.
- Brainstorm steps that can be taken to make your department run more efficiently.
- As mentioned previously, create a training course for your coworkers.
Challenging yourself to make your working life better will certainly help your 8 hour shift go by a lot faster.
24. Make Some Ergonomic Office Upgrades.
There are some basics when it comes to Office Ergonomics 101. My company has always been very sympathetic to employees’ ergonomic health.
It’s not only smart for them when it comes to the bottom line (minimizes employee health issues) but it also gives employees a sense of appreciation toward the company.
I just think that the more comfortable that you are in your working environment the easier it is for you to focus on your work thereby leading to a work day that goes by a lot quicker.
25. Organize Your Workspace.
I’m always surprised when I walk into a coworker’s office and you literally cannot see the desktop due to a myriad of trade journals, project folders, and extraneous papers strewn all over it.
I cannot work like that and I’m surprised anyone can.
I think that an organized workspace is typically a productive workspace. If you find your office getting a little bit cluttered, make it a point to take some time to organize your workspace and put away those file folders into your file cabinet.
If you need an extra filing cabinet, desk organizer, or bookcase chances are your work will pay for it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the day can go by if you are organized.
26. Pay a Quick Visit with a Coworker.
Sometimes just getting up and conversing with a coworker not only about work but about life can be just the little interlude that you need.
Oftentimes I will do this with a coworker in the next cubicle or someone in another department. It not only gives you a little break but it also leads to a healthier camaraderie with others in the company.
27. Ask Your Boss if you can Move Your Office.
Maybe you are forced to sit next to someone who might not be your cup of tea. Maybe this coworker is always complaining about the company or others within the company. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Scope out any empty cubicles or work areas in your department and ask your boss if you can move. Maybe it’s a permanent move or maybe just for a couple of days.
Once you get newly situated you might find that your not watching the clock as much anymore and are more engaged in your projects without the influence of your complaining coworker.
28. Reorganize/Purge Your Email.
I’m guilty of having a non-organized inbox when it comes to my email. One way that you can not only pass the time productively but start a new routine is to set up new email folders and properly organize your email.
Simply go through your email, one by one, and decide to purge or assign it to a folder. You can make it a point to either do this every time you receive a new email, each morning when you get into work, or at the end of each day.
I was quite surprised when I peeked at a coworker’s email inbox and saw a couple of emails. She made it a point when she got a new email to either delete it or assign it to a folder. It was impressive, to say the least.
29. Complete Administrative Tasks ASAP.
Everyone has administrative tasks that they need to complete but we just let them go because they tend to be boring. An example is filling out an expense report. How many times have you let this wait for weeks after you have taken that work trip?
And all the while you know it’s in the back of your mind and you need to get it done. Psychologically it will free you if, when you return from that trip, you fill out your expense report as soon as possible.
If you get into the habit of getting those administrative tasks done quickly you’ll change that routine and they won’t weigh on your mind.
30. Take an Online Course.
Most companies will pay for a course that would benefit you in your job. I actually received a second bachelor’s degree online so I certainly understand the value of being able to take courses remotely.
Taking an online course will not only advance your education but will also help you feel more engaged in the work you perform each day. And feeling engaged in your work is probably the best way to make your work day fly by each day.
Another benefit is that most companies will allow you a certain number of hours each week to complete course homework that you have been assigned.
31. Focus on the Positive.
Easier said than done, right? I know it’s always easy to complain and be negative about having to work each day but there are ways to turn this around for you. Here are some tips:
- Think of those less fortunate who don’t have a job.
- If you work in a cubicle, relish in the fact that the space is yours and you’re not in an open office environment with literally no privacy. You can hang a picture on your cubicle wall of your spouse or your kids. Someone in an open office doesn’t have that simple privilege.
- Realize that the benefits that your employer provides you are part of your compensation. Figure out how much you would have to pay for healthcare and dental benefits if you started your own business. You might just start to feel more appreciative of your job situation and particularly your compensation.
- Assuming that your employer allows you to further your education at the expense of the company, this is another win-win situation for you and the employer but it’s at no cost to you.
- Use positive self-talk which should encourage you throughout your work day.
32. Request a New Task From Your Boss.
Maybe you’re mired in a slump at work with no motivation. Why not ask your boss to help you out by assigning you something new to work on? This can result in a number of benefits.
- Your boss will be impressed you took the initiative.
- You will learn something new.
- It will increase your value to the company as well as your reputation.
- It will add to your versatility as a worker in the company.
- It will help the work day go by faster!
33. Shut Off Your Phone.
I know that in this day and age not having access to your phone is almost sacrilege. But, I see coworkers of mine each day constantly on their phones checking scores, texting others, and surfing the web.
How about trying to shut off your phone if only for the next hour? You’ll be surprised how that extra distraction being eliminated can affect your engagement in your work.
Give it a try, even if it’s in chunks throughout the day. It might help your day move along quicker.
34. Do Something Nice for a Coworker.
Maybe you know of a coworker who is struggling with their spouse and may be on the verge of a divorce. There might be someone else who is having problems with their kids or with their health.
Go out of your way to do something nice for someone who might be struggling. Buy them a coffee from Starbucks, take them to lunch, or just offer words of encouragement.
You’ll not only realize it will help those in need but it will also give you a sense of gratification that you helped someone out. You may also realize that your current situation is not nearly as bad as you originally thought.
35. Look for Ways to Make Work Fun.
Instead of being the complainer in the company, be the person who tries to make things better. Plan a night out with coworkers or maybe just head out to lunch with coworkers in your own department.
Engaging positively with others will not only make your work life more satisfying, it will also help make your workplace a more motivating and pleasant place to be each day.
And when you are happy in the workplace, how to make work go by faster will never be a question that will enter your mind.
Recap of How to Make the Workday Go By Faster
We can always wallow in our job situation if that’s what we choose to do. Try to look more positively on your own working environment. Sometimes that might be easier said than done given your circumstances.
How to make time go faster at work is an age-old question that can be answered by taking some positive actions on your part. Don’t just sit there looking at all the negative aspects of your job situation.
Take steps to change that negativity as detailed in this article. You just might find that your job situation just might be a whole lot better than the alternative.
What to Read Next:
- Working in a Cubicle – Everything You Need to Know
- What Does a Second Interview Mean?
- How to Simulate Natural Light in a Windowless Office
- 15 Top Tips to Organize your Desk, Office, or Cubicle at Work
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Office – a Full Analysis
- What are Some Good Office Supplies to Have?
Bob has been blogging for over 20 years and has been an office and cubicle dweller for more than 35 years. He has been featured in numerous online publications such as US News and World Report, Bustle, and Work Awesome (you can read his articles here). He created the popular office website CubicleBliss in January 2011 and rebranded it as WorkspaceBliss in April 2020.
In the office he’s been an IT Manager, Applications Engineer, Systems Analyst, Software Project leader, and Programmer Analyst in his long career. He’s a Certified Microsoft Professional and possesses a Masters of Science degree and two Bachelor of Science degrees, one of those in Informational Technology.
During his career he has worked in the office full-time, as a hybrid remote worker, and has worked from home permanently.