Note: This blog originally published in July 2011.
When we were children, we reveled in playtime. We hung out in our yards, played with the neighbor kids or biked as far as our parents would let us. No tasks were planned, and no appointments were scheduled.
We didn’t feel guilty about play time; we didn’t feel didn’t feel edgy because we didn’t have anything else to do, and we were pretty focused on what is now referred to as the “present moment.”
As we grew older, we learned to add more and more activities to our lives; we were rewarded “reputationally” and financially for how much we got done. Then our lives became more complicated by home and children. Gradually, our time to play became briefer and briefer. Eventually, it was almost extinguished. All work, no play. We felt frustrated. Our tempers became shorter. We needed a glass of wine to unwind.
Replenish yourself through play
All of us need time to play even if we say we don’t have time for it. According to an article from Helpguide.org, taking time to replenish yourself through play is one of the best things you can do for your career. When the project you’re working on hits a serious glitch, taking a break does more than take your mind off the problem. It allows your relationship to the problem to shift and enables you to approach it from a new perspective.
Some of us may play in the garden. Some of us may play games with other adults, Scrabble, golf, etc. Some of us may play when we work out. And some of us may add play to our tasks, such as scrap-booking or other creative projects.
Work hard, play hard
If you haven’t taken time for play in awhile, take a moment now to travel back in time. Remember what it was like to ride your bike down an empty street, to go to the community pool on a hot summer night, to make your first lanyard at camp, or play kick the can with the neighborhood kids.
All of us know people who live by the work hard play hard mantra. Often they appear to be endowed with extra stores of energy. Many of these types of people enjoy enviable success at work. I suspect those extra stores of energy come from their zest for play. So quit telling yourself you don’t have time for play. Begin adding regular play periods to your work week, and see if you don’t see an improvement in your performance.