5 Ways to Playful Productivity

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5 Ways to Playful Productivity


Play and fun do not generally get included into company visions and personal development plans. We think of play as a child’s thing, having no place in the adult world of real responsibilities and achievements. Yet study after study have shown the importance of play in the development of socio-emotional control, resilience, and creativity – all of which are critically important to successful productivity in the working worlds of adults. Keeping our brains and hearts open to exploration and experimentation – necessities of strategic innovation and strong leadership – requires us to continuously cultivate a space for play.

Dr. Peter Gray studies play. He looks at how play is a biological and evolutionary strategy on nature’s part to ensure that mammals acquire the necessary skills to relate to others, bounce back from obstacles, and grow. The bigger the mammal brain, the more play. Self-directed play, in particular, is what gives learning its power. It also makes life a whole lot more fun.

Play helps us to be more creative, more innovative, and more productive.

1. Don’t color in between the lines
Unstructured play allows us not to always follow the rules. This is not to say you should breaking company rules, but don’t restrict yourself within given parameters. Push the boundaries, step outside of the “norm,” and see what new ideas and innovations come your way by not following. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, break it” can unleash more efficient and elegant ways to get more done
2. Hug a tree

Studies have shown that nature – even a picture of nature – can help to bring our cortisol levels now and let us step back and see the bigger picture. Seeing green and being around nature can help return you to a sense of greater peace, innocence, and pleasure without the hectic buzz of electronics. Centering yourself will give yourself the space to pause and return to your responsibilities with renewed energy and excitement.

3. Run around the block

Kids run. They don’t walk. They are too excited about life to stand still. There is too much evidence to deny that physical well being and exercise helps our mental and emotional capacities. Go run around – do a few jumping jacks – arm wrestle your officemate. Get your blood flowing, raise the testosterone levels and reduce those stress hormones.

4. Make a mess
When kids draw, it’s inevitable the floor gets painted as well. When kids eat, the ceilings seem to attract spaghetti. Go ahead – make a mess. Get those post-it notes of ideas up and around your walls. Sketch out those crazy ideas and toss them aside. This isn’t the kind of mess of a disorganized person – but rather, a purposeful mess that reflects the process of creative thinking, which leads to creative productivity.

5. Laugh everyday

It may seem like your work or project is absolutely no fun, full of stress, or limited in time and resources. These feelings certainly don’t suggest any potential for laughter. Yet, finding something every day – even if it’s small – that makes you laugh is important to keeping a joyful sense of possibilities. A sense of humor helps to keep us resilient in the face of obstacles.