What do you think is the most important trait of a successful worker?
Common answers might be focus, organization, commitment, or generally a willingness to sacrifice “personal” life for career.
Author Dave Hemsworth, along with many experts, has a different answer: the ability to have fun.
Being serious all the time can help you push through when you have a tight deadline, but it’s a recipe for burning out, losing motivation and hating your job. Plus, it stifles your creativity.
The secret of the most successful people just might be playfulness and joy.
Are you ready to have more fun while being better at your job? Check out these insights and some tips to lighten up your workday, plus a Chrome new tab extension that will change the way you work online.
Does having fun make you more creative, innovative and efficient?
Many species of animals play, especially while young. Science has yet to pinpoint exactly why, but it seems to have something to do with practicing important behaviors and developing psychological flexibility.
In general, the more social and complex the animal, the more they play.
As serious, mature adult humans, we might not always realize it, but fun, learning and creativity are indivisibly linked.
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary is CEO of the LEGO Foundation, a Danish organization that promotes the value of play in children’s development. Drawing on her two decades of experience in neuroscience and medicine, she says:
“[Play is] one of our brain’s favorite ways to learn. […] Play allows us to test our capabilities, as all forms of learning should. It stimulates children’s learning abilities by fostering creativity, building critical thinking, sparking intellectual curiosity, and facilitating learning by doing. Learning by doing deepens our engagement and understanding significantly, and strengthens the most important pathways our brains use to learn and develop.”
The trick is that this isn’t just true for kids. Our brains still want to learn and create by playing.
Often, we suppress this because we’re afraid of doing something wrong or not being taken seriously. But if you can let go of this, loosen up and allow yourself to make mistakes, you’ll be amazed what your mind can come up with.
There’s a lot of recent research showing the advantages of companies that support a fun working environment. These include:
- Higher productivity, creativity, innovation and overall performance
- Better customer service
- Lower absentee rates
- Higher job satisfaction and employee loyalty
- Enhanced employee motivation
- Reduced stress
Ideas for bringing more fun into your work
Fortunately, there’s no job so dull that you can’t find joy in it.
Here are a few ideas:
- Make connections with your co-workers. It’s the biggest reason why many people enjoy their job! If the office feels like too dry a venue for kicking back with your work comrades, organize some off-hours group activities, like knitting night or lunch break dance parties. The more offbeat, the better.
- Laugh more and get your colleagues to laugh along. Who says you can’t tell jokes at work? Make it a goal to make one of your co-workers laugh at least once every day.
- Get out of the office. Take a walk, take a colleague out for coffee, just get some fresh air and a change of scenery.
- Have something that makes you smile? Put it at your desk! Goofy souvenirs, silly toys – let your quirky flag fly.
- If your inner critic is getting you down, draw it as a silly monster. Then, whenever you feel like your creativity is drowned out by your own critical comments, take a look at the critic monster and have a good laugh.
Sometimes, it can be as small as allowing yourself to do something silly. Wear funny socks or listen to music from your teenage years while working. The idea is just to break past the part of you that’s all serious business, all the time.
Limestone: a Chrome new tab extension for motivation and inspiration
One trick for putting more smiles in your workday is as simple as opening a new tab on your browser.
There are lots of extensions out there to change your new tab page on Chrome into something with a bit more flair.
My personal favorite is Limestone, a first page that combines style with practicality.
On the fun side, you get gorgeous, inspirational wallpaper images and a new motivational quote every day.
For practicality, it includes a bunch of useful widgets, including a to-do list, search bar and Gmail notifications.
It’s a small thing, but it really improves my working experience. It’s amazing what a difference it makes just to look at an uplifting image in the midst of a stressful project!
When it comes to enjoying your work, remember that ultimately, it doesn’t matter so much what you do. There are plenty of garbage collectors who feel happy and satisfied, and tons of high-powered movie stars and professional athletes who are totally miserable.
If you feel deep down that you’re in the wrong profession, then by all means, take the choice into your own hands and find something that’s more in line with your calling.
But in many cases, you can have a great time doing exactly the job you have already. You don’t need to wait to find your “dream job” to enjoy what you do.
It all comes down to finding moments of lightness wherever you can, and maintaining that feeling as much as you can. Try to drop your need to impress, to please your boss or be thought of in a certain way. Just do your best and laugh as much as you can.