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Here’s Why Having Fun Matters More Than You Think

Dave Crenshaw Headshot

By: Dave Crenshaw | Aug 7, 2019

Contributed by MPIGNY Education Speaker, Dave Crenshaw

You've been putting something off, haven’t you?

That fact alone isn't a bad thing. My inbox is filled with things that simply don't need to be done right now. In my Time Management Tips Weekly course, I talk about pushing back tasks that don't serve an immediate need. I call it "positive procrastination."

But what if you’re pushing off enjoyable tasks that shouldn’t be pushed off?

No one can deny your hustle. You're pushing twelve-hour days, holding long meetings, ordering in lunch, and never stepping more than ten feet out the building for the occasional phone call/mid-day Facebook break—which isn't helping your outlook, by the way.

What you're putting off is yourself. Your health, your sanity, your relationships, and your life are all being jeopardized by your well-intentioned “can-do” attitude. Worst of all, it's not making your work better. It's actually making it worse. You're in a desert. Let's get you some relief—and a cold drink of water!

High and dry

The desert I refer to isn't just some evocative word, heightened for effect. The idea behind this desert is the classic Hollywood trope of a weary traveler on foot or horseback treading across a plain of sand and heat. He usually has dry, cracked lips and an intense sunburn, and he mutters the word "water" from the very back of his throat. That's you.

You'd like to stop every hour or so to smell the roses. You'd like to take time off work. You'd really like to spend more time with your family. Trouble is, you're in this metaphorical desert. In life, this desert has been brought to us by the culture of WISH.

WISH, in this case, stands for "Worth It Someday, Hopefully." You believe that all of this time you’re devoting may be worth it when you retire, or when the business begins to scale to your liking, or…some other imaginary day in the future. We justify this by saying "maybe tomorrow" or "when I have the time" or "it's on my bucket list."

Worst of all, relaxation or refreshment come with another dangerous caveat: deserve. As in, “when I deserve a break.”

Your oasis awaits you

In my live keynote speech on The Power of Having Fun, I propose an alternative solution. Rather than waiting until we deserve to feel happy, why not prioritize our happiness? Instead of wearing how busy we are as a badge of honor, what if we scheduled time each day, each week, each month, and each year to have FUN?

I call this solution an Oasis. An Oasis is a planned period of time devoted to the most important person in your life: YOU! This is the time you've created to do something that is meaningful and fun to you. It's not my job to tell you what you should like. Honestly, the sillier it is, the more I'm likely to believe you actually like it, because doing silly things is a uniquely human trait.

In my twenty years of coaching leaders, I've seen plenty...

Gaming the system

I once had a client who was scattershot, disorganized, and running out of time. He never had enough time in his day to complete his daily tasks. The quality of his work suffered. I decided to audit each hour of his day, but I couldn't place my finger on the cause of this massive time hole. Then he told me his little secret. My response, to say the least, was wow. Matter of fact, so was his...

Each day, he would go back and forth from the real world to another world. The World of Warcraft. He was busted. Though, not really. He thought I was going to tell him to shut down his account and focus on his job, but it wasn't the video game that caused this problem. It was how he played it.

The problem was that he was switchtasking, which I talk about in my course, Time Management Fundamentals. Switchtasking is the act of moving between different tasks, rather than focusing on one task at a time.

Instead of throwing out the orcs with the bathwater, we scheduled a chunk of time each day to play Warcraft. The result? He got his work done, which led to him getting home on time, which led to him getting better sleep, which led to him doing his job better!

Surviving family life

Not only should fun time for yourself be a priority, but so should fun time spent with loved ones.

A pair of clients, a husband and wife team who owned a business, had a slightly different problem. They simply couldn't stop thinking or talking about their business. It seemed the barrier to romance was a cover sheet and strategically placed paper clip.

"What do you like to do together outside of work?" I asked.

They paused and one of them muttered, "We like Survivor."

That's right, the TV show. This was perfect. Rather than tell me they read the Wall Street Journal or went to museums; they gave me a silly reality show. I can work with that!

They scheduled time each week to watch reruns of Survivor. This not only gave them a better marriage; it probably improved their actual work. According to studies examining the work-home resources model, there is a positive correlation between home life and work life. In other words, the better the home, the better the work.

Take time to make time

By taking time each day to be good to yourself, you have so much to gain. Not just time, but moments. Moments spent doing the things you’ve always wanted to do. Moments with your family. Moments abroad. Moments with those who need you the most. If you’re ready to let old habits die, please answer this; What you would do with an extra 20% of time in your workday?

_____________

Dave Crenshaw is the master of building productive leaders. He has appeared in Time magazine, USA Today, FastCompany, and the BBC News. His courses on LinkedIn Learning have received over fifteen million views. He has written five books that have been published in eight languages, the most popular of which is The Myth of Multitasking—a time management bestseller. As an author, speaker, and online instructor, Dave has transformed hundreds of thousands of business leaders worldwide.

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