A playful attitude on the job lowers stress, increases motivation and leads to greater job satisfaction.
Some people believe that hating your job is normal. Others may even feel that hating your job is part of being a grown-up, citing that popular, not-so-tongue-in-cheek definition of work as “something they have to pay you to get you to do.”
How sad. Most of us spend a majority of our lives on the job. Can’t we have some fun with it?
Well, yes, we can. And, I venture to say, we should. When your work is fun — that is, more similar to “play” — you are more relaxed and thus more open to creativity. Creativity leads to innovation, which leads to greater productivity. In fact, employers should actively want their people to be having fun, because people who are having fun are prone to working harder and even longer.
The bottom line is that a playful attitude at work lowers stress levels, improves powers of concentration, boosts optimism, increases motivation and leads to greater job satisfaction. It’s good for our health, too. What’s not to like?
Fortunately, playfulness is a state of mind that can be cultivated. Here are some ideas:
Harness the power of sociability. Teamwork lightens the workload for everyone and helps make even the most crushing assignment less overwhelming.
Embrace interruptions. You may feel that interruptions are to be avoided but they can actually lead to creative breakthroughs. The distraction gives your brain a break, allowing it freedom to roam.
Do things differently. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best or only way. Variety really is the spice of life.
Acknowledge error. Trying to cover up mistakes is a waste of energy. Admitting them — with humor and humility — is not only far less stressful, it also gets you to a solution much faster.
Look for ways to “keep score.” Score-keeping is a great tool for conquering the soul-crushing boredom of repetitive tasks. Set targets for yourself and try to beat them. Making a game out of tedious work makes it, if not fun, then much more bearable.
Go outside. Humans were not meant to spend all day indoors. Take a walk around the block or even around the parking lot; it will do wonders for your mental and physical state.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at email@example.com.