All work and no play? Here are 5 better ideas…

And November is well and truly here now: mist, chill, dewy spiders’ webs in the morning, bare tree branches, opaque sky…  Well, that’s how it is as I’m writing this, anyway.  Last week, I mentioned the Fish principles, based on the book by Stephen Lundin et al,  and its first key cornerstone: choose your attitutde.  This week, I want to show you how the second principle, play, can make a positive difference to your experiences and lighten the winter gloom.

Now, before you get all, “wait a moment, I have a serious job to do” on me, let me explain.  Play does not necessarily mean you have to wear a silly hat to work, although I know someone who always does.  Neither does it mean you have to conga round the office once a day, although I know several offices that could benefit from a bit of that.  No, an element of play can be as subtle as you like, and it can be just for you, or even better, something that influences the culture of where you are.

Your workspace
How does it look?  A bit dull?  What could you change?  A fun screensaver? (tip: change it regularly, or the impact is lost), a pop of colour somewhere?  A daft dancing flower/waving cat/real cat?  You know the kind of thing I mean.  How much stuff on your desk is just meaningless clutter, and what could you do to make you smile to yourself now and then?

Get out
Not a moody shout at you, but I’m always banging on about the advantages of fresh air, so why not have a meeting, or a 1:1 whilst walking?  If you’re lucky enough to have somewhere green(ish) nearby, take advantage.  It’s a great break state brain-changer and a different location will do marvels for your creativity.

Take 5
Google is famous for its employee perks and whilst we can’t all go to the extravagance of a chill out room, in house masseur or on-call sushi chef to rustle up a snack (all these happen, believe me!), we can all use a 5-minute break every now and then.  And when we take that break, let’s be mindful about it.  Do something that represents a reward to yourself, whatever that means: a coffee, a chat, a snack, 50 push-ups (just kidding: I wanted to see if you were still reading!)

Research suggests that music is a great mood-enhancer.  Therefore, choose your playlist with care.  If you work best in silence, use music to lift your mood at other times, but use it nonetheless.  Pay attention to what you listen to first thing in the morning, as this can affect your “choose your attitude” intention too!

Those around you
A sense of “play” is as important for those people around you as it is for you.  Invite, but don’t insist, on others joining in the light-heartedness.  Being kind, and sensitive to the moods of others is key.  You can still have fun in a gentle way; you simply find that way.  Bringing people together is an ideal opportunity for “play”, so think about a range of ways to do this.

Come back next week, when I’ll be taking you through the next Fish principle.  And if you have some ideas of your own about play, I’d love to read them in the comments below.  Until next time, have fun!




About Marianna Beckwith