In the litany of small-talk complaints, the fact that the holidays start earlier every year is right up there with the weather and traffic. But, there’s one holiday that most agree can’t start early enough: Halloween.
No family obligations, no travel requirements, no real rules other than having fun — Halloween offers the chance to stop pretending to be an adult for a while, plus an excuse to wear a costume, if that’s your thing, and eat lots of candy. It’s also a good reminder that life isn’t supposed to be serious all the time, even if you’re a serious person.
It turns out that fun isn’t always frivolous; having a good time at work, for example, can boost productivity, and research shows that happy employees are more productive. If you want to get stuff done, in other words, it’s in your best interest to find ways to enjoy your job.
Halloween is the perfect time to embrace the fun side of work and use it to your advantage.
- Gamify your to-do list.
If you’d rather be playing an online RPG than compiling reports, now you can (sort of) do both. Habitica is a game that lets you turn “all your tasks (habits, dailies, and to-dos) into little monsters you have to conquer.” You can improve your avatar by developing better habits and compete with friends (or your boss).
Need more? Lifehacker has a roundup of gamification apps focusing on everything from productivity to fitness.
- Mentally “dress up” as your greatest inspiration.
People pick Halloween costumes for all sorts of reasons, but regardless of why you choose a specific getup, there’s something to be said for pretending to be someone else for a while. If you’re having trouble motivating at work, maybe it’s time to try your day as one of your heroes.
OK, sure, if you wander into a random Thursday meeting doing your Batman voice, you’re probably going to wind up having an emergency meeting with HR instead of saving Gotham City.
Instead, focus on the (legal, constructive) habits of the people who inspire you, and emulate them.
For example, if you idolize a writer or an artist, you might try copying some of their habits. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Jonathan Franzen wrote The Corrections while wearing earplugs. Rainbow Rowell writes all her books at Starbucks. (And so on.)
It’s less about the habit itself, and more about trying something new. A fresh perspective might do you good.
- Use the Strategy of Treats.
Many productivity-focused people are wary of anything that looks like an indulgence, as if that little bit extra will pull them off track and derail their progress. But as The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin explains, allowing ourselves healthy treats can help us feel energized.
“Studies show that people who got a little treat, in the form of receiving a surprise gift or watching a funny video, gained in self-control,” Rubin writes at PsychCentral. “It’s a Secret of Adulthood: If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish.”
What does a healthy treat look like? That depends on what’s important to you. For Rubin, it’s clearing clutter. For you, it might be an extra few minutes walking outside or talking to a friend. The point is that not all indulgences are bad for you. The right kind will be fuel in the tank that keeps you going.
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