The Not-So-Crazy Concept of Work as Play

It may seem like a silly question, but is your work actually fun? Does it feel like play? If it doesn’t, it should – and maybe it can if you get into the mindset suggested by Zen Habits. "Work doesn’t have to be boring – it can be exciting, something you look forward to, an outlet for your creativity and imagination. It can be play."

Here's the BallSkeptical? Keep reading anyway.

Turning work into play doesn’t mean you don’t work hard, or that you never do boring tasks. If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that you work as hard as anyone when you’re playing or practicing – but that’s no problem, because you’re having a blast doing it. Learning is the same way – it can be boring and soul-crushingly repetitive, or it can be interesting and joyful and consume all our free time. I know when I become absorbed with learning about something, I can get caught up in it for days and learn vast amounts of information and skills, without once thinking it’s hard or boring. That almost never happened when I was at school, because they made it work, and I wasn’t in control of what I learned.

The proposed parameters of work as play, according to Zen Habits:

  • Freedom. If someone else tells you what to do and when, you won’t be as excited or interested or motivated.
  • Excitement. If something isn’t interesting, move on to something that is. Don’t force things.
  • Pour yourself into it. You can skip from one thing to another, and that’s fine, but you might never accomplish anything that way.
  • Showing off. One of the reasons boys like sports so much is because they get to show off for girls (and at a younger age, for their mothers). There’s nothing wrong with this – I think we’re hardwired to want to look good in front of our peers.

What the heck. It’s at least worth trying to have some fun on the job.

— Don Willmott

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