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The Power of Play In Our (Work-)Life — Event Recap

How you make more time for play in your life and why you should set this as a priority.

For many, spending time on hobbies sounds like a waste of time.
But it is actually an investment in our happiness. ⁠
Extracurricular activities and “playtime” can be a way to develop new skills, experiment, meet new people and communities or decompress.⁠

As children, we picked up play naturally and instinctively. But during school, we are introduced to the idea that play is trivial and a waste of time.
The idea that play is trivial even becomes more ingrained as we enter the workspace. Not only do far too few companies foster play, many unintentionally undermine it.

Play, which is defined as anything we do simply for the joy of doing, whether it’s doing sports, listening to music, cooking, walking — might seem like an unimportant activity.

Studies, however, show, that play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education, to organizations ability to innovate. Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.

It goes so far, that research has found that daydreaming — an inevitable effect of idleness — “literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.” For that to happen, though, total idleness is required.

“Let the mind search for its own stimulation,” Ms. Mann said. “That’s when you get the daydreaming and mind wandering, and that’s when you’re more likely to get the creativity.”

Manfred Kets de Vries, a professor of leadership development and organizational change at Insead in Paris about “doing nothing”: “It takes you out of your mind, and then you see things clearly after a while.”

But stopping the cycle of busyness can be challenging in a culture that prizes getting things done.

It’s essential to integrate downtime, get ooo, break routines, find new models to find focus and a more balanced work-life.

How to integrate play into your workday #workplaybalance

Below are some tips on how to get started:

#1 Ditch your desk!

Several new science papers suggest that getting away — and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going — is an essential habit of effective thinking. Certainly, we’ve all experienced the feeling that work concerns are just less important the farther away we get from the office. Now there’s proof to back up the classic “out of sight, out of mind” expression.

Going even further, another study sparked by the productivity of ex-pats like Nabokov, Hemingway, Yeats, Picasso, Gaugin, and Handel showed that not just travelling but living abroad for an extended period of time can improve our capacities for problem-solving and creative thinking. It turns out that being exposed to cultures that function differently from our own — from language to social customs to public transport — awakens the brain, alerting it to a much broader range of possibilities for being, living, and making.

So whether it’s going to the park, book a relaxing day at the spa or going to a museum, get ooo!

#2 Do sports or start a new hobby

Whether it’s sports, cooking, or whatever it is you do in your downtime, prioritize it!
For me, I’ve found yoga & running to be a great way to unwind. Yoga helps you to achieve control over what happens in the mind. With it, we try to achieve a joyous, self-forgetful involvement through concentration, which is made possible by a discipline of the body.
Yoga focuses on building up increasingly higher levels of skills in controlling consciousness and helps us find more clarity in our thoughts after achieving to eliminate other thoughts around us.

#3 Do nothing

Research has found that daydreaming — an inevitable effect of concentration and idleness — makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas. For that to happen, though, total idleness is required.
Let the mind search for its own stimulation. That’s when you get the daydreaming and mind wandering, and that’s when you’re more likely to get the creativity.
In order to get your mind wander, lie down and stare at the clouds or go for a walk without switching your podcast on, call anyone, just be alone and enjoy the solitude.

→ Resist the culture of busyness.

If you’re doing nothing, own it. When someone asks you what you’re doing during a nothing break, simply respond, “Nothing.” Be unapologetic about taking breaks or holidays, and if you start to feel guilty about being seen as lazy, think of doing nothing not as a sign of laziness but as an important life skill. Choose the initial discomfort of doing nothing over the familiarity of busyness.

→ Manage your expectations.

Learning takes time and effort, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch on immediately to the benefits of idleness. Know that sitting still might actually be uncomfortable at first and might take practice — just like exercise.

#4 Talk to your manager/boss!

It’s harder when work hours are long and unpredictable, so try to schedule predictable time off (chose time protected from potential requests)⁠

If you feel like you’re lacking in inspiration, ask your employer to offer volunteering or extracurricular programs to make it easier for you to try different things and step out of your comfort zone.⁠

So, how can you make more time for play in your life?

If you’re struggling to think about what it is that you could do, think about what you did as a child that excited you? How can you re-create that today?

Note down 3 ways you can make more time for play!

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so feel free to drop your ideas into the comments!

For more inspiration make sure to follow: https://www.getoutofoffice.network/




Inspire your day-job with what you do in your downtime.

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Alice Katter

Alice Katter

Curious optimist currently designing culture and community programs + tools at Dropbox. Writing about community, future of work and out of office culture.

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