By Keith

I’m a firm believer that work should be fun. Hopefully lots of it.

However, we all know there are way to many tasks, even in a fun job, that simply are no fun to do. Anything you have to do routinely, for example, can be a drag. Checking and responding to e-mail, answering the phone, doing your accounting, etc. These things are, by simple nature, not a whole lot of fun. But that doesn’t have to be. Adding a little play into your day can make things quite a bit better.

h3. Some Simple Ways To Work and Play

* Have toys at your desk. They can be a handy distraction and a way to spark creativity. You might not want to go as far as I do (I’ve got toys everywhere) but one or two can give you a much needed diversion. Yo-yos are great.
* Do things backwards. For example, when I’m going through my e-mail, I’ll go bottom up. Sounds simple, but even a little change can be kind of fun.
* Get outside. When I used to do tech support for Microsoft (another life) hitting the basketball court at lunch was all that kept me sane.
* Wear a funny hat or outfit. Better yet, have a “funny hat day”.
* Reward with fun. Help your coworkers play by rewarding them in fun ways. Sometimes things like little toys and fun games can be even better than free food. Plus it’s better for you.
* Compete. I think the role of competition is important on the job, just don’t take it to seriously. It can be informal, like challenging a coworker to some kind of creative or output based competition. Or, it can be formal, like seeing who can get the most “stars” for being on-time to meetings.
* Laugh and joke. Get a joke of the day sent to your e-mail. Share it with your coworkers. I used to pass around my daily Dilbert calendar. Sharing a laugh can go a long way towards having more fun at work.
* Build friendships at work. This isn’t always easy. I’ve worked at several jobs where I didn’t connect on a personal level with my coworkers. It makes it much harder to come in every day. Try and get out to lunch, or for an afterwork beer, with you colleagues. It really, really helps.
* Play a practical joke on your coworkers. One of the best I’ve heard: hook a “clapper” on/off switch to a coworkers monitor. Watch office hilarity erupt. Just be sure and be respectful. Pick the right person and don’t let it go on forever.
* Make a mental game out of your tasks. Make rules for how you do something. Write on the whiteboard with your opposite hand during a meeting. Pretend your e-mail is a horde of space invaders. Whatever works. ;0)
* Choose an attitude towards work that promotes fun. I’ve found that if I spend a bit of my day having fun, I do much better when it comes to getting my job done well. Sometimes having fun is simple–you just choose to have fun.

21 Comments on The Power of Play at Work

  1. Kevin says:

    In honor of yesterday’s Talk Like A Pirate Day, I love pretending that I’m a pirate and my “issues” of the day are ships that need to be sunk and plundered. When everything is booty, it’s always more fun.

  2. Michael says:

    Another wonderful article. This site is a treasure chest!

  3. Keith says:

    Kevin — That’s a great one! Have a “meme” at work!

    Michael — Thanks! Glad you like “me bootay!”

  4. Alan says:

    One of my favorite harmless pranks to pull in the office is to stick a small piece of opaque tape over the LED on the bottom of an optical mouse. It’ll render it useless. (of course, until after you take off the tape) To lighten the general mood of the victim, write something like “Gotcha!” on the tape with a smiley face.

    Most people never think to check under their mice when something goes wrong. The last time I did it, I watched as my co-worker rapped his mouse on the desk and reboot his PC a couple of times until he finally turned the mouse over. Luckily, he had a good laugh about it.

  5. James says:

    Great article Keith. If you head on over to Belief and dig up the The Common Desk movie (Experiments > The Pollinate Sessions) it extends on those ideas of using environment, enjoyment and experimentation to nurture creativity/sanity. Not to mention it’s got some brilliant TV spots.

  6. Blurring the Line Between Work and Play

    Keith over at To-Done has another thoughtful post…this time about making work more fun. Even if you love your job, there will inevitably be certain aspects of it that grow tedious. It’s always handy to have a few tricks up your sleeve to cut loose a…

  7. whitewiz says:

    more pranks:
    -the latest nVidea display drivers let you flip the screen upside down. (hard to reset cuz the mouse works backwards)
    -a sheduled task that ejects the CD rom every hour company’s public website, during a meeting, on the projector… panic ensues
    -M$ word auto-correct; normally replaces the word “teh” with “the” but can be taught to auto-replace the string “yours truly” with “so blow me”
    -packing foam noodles + orange highlighter = things that look exactly like Cheetos. (and are slightly healthier for you)

  8. Britt says:

    I desperately need this at work right now.

    I am actually a member of an office Fun Committee that hasn’t met in a long time. In the past, we organized a Crazy Hat and Tie day, as well as an indoor Olympics (nerf basketball, jump rope, putt, etc.), and a bubble gum blowing contest.

    We’re too busy to meet these days. Sad.

  9. Keith says:

    Britt — I’d say that if you’re too busy to have a little fun in your day, you need to rethink how you are working. I know how it is, but the quickest way to burnout is all work and no play. In the long run it’s not good for you and it’s not good for your business.

  10. inforedesign says:

    Играйте на работе!

    Советы по приятному провождению рабочего времени в статье The Power of Play at Work
    Небольшой перевод основной части:
    * Поставьте на рабочем столе …

  11. Terry says:

    We had this guy ( do a day long seminar on “Humour in the Workplace.” It COMPLETELY changed the culture of the place (a municipal government social services department).

    If you want to have more fun at work, look him up!

  12. The power of play at work

    Oh, ****. No.

  13. Be Happy With Work,很难吗?

    Be Happy With Work,很难吗?

  14. Geoffrey says:

    A better solution might be to get a fun job. Then you wouldn’t need Funny Hat Day. Just an idea. ;)

  15. Julia says:

    That’s a great article. I agree, it’s important to find ways to have fun at work. I like the fact that you mentioned getting outside to let off some steam. That can be really important. I even have a blog devoted to letting of steam about work called WorkRanter.

  16. says:

    Think About Building A Team [5x5s]

    Five Things To Think About For Five Minutes on the subject of BUILDING A TEAM 1. Look for people with potential.Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, writes: The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did

  17. Jed in Canada says:

    For a good office safe excursion, ask the for advice.

  18. The Power of Play at Work

    Keith at To-Done has an excellent post this week on fun work environments and their effects on workers. As a proud employee of TBS, the ‘very funny’ network, part of my official duties include thinking up ways for folks to have fun in off…

  19. Max Leibman says:

    An ex-boss of mine had “Thurple Thursdays”: Every day at our (collars-and-tie-and-no-khakis) office, he and a handful of other managers would show up in purple dress-shirts.

    It was one of the few things to smile about on Thursdays.

    Laughter, friendship, and making games of things are key. I’ve had three really great jobs (out of a dozen or so); in all three cases, it was a varying balance of how much not-inherently-job-description fun I could have and the quality of people I worked with that made the work, well, work.

  20. Darin says:

    I totally agree with the concept of power of play. When I hit a point where I need break. I take out the old PSP and play 15 minutes of games and that is enough for me to refocus and finish what I was doing.

  21. michael says:

    grab ur workmate bit collaar throw im on floor n say haha will brighten any day haha

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