You don’t have to do what you love to get the most out of your job, but it pays to be able to find some joy in the day to day. After all, if you work full-time, you’ll spend a least a third of every weekday on the job. Why be miserable for eight hours a day?
The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to have fun at work, even if you don’t love your job, and be a complete professional while doing it. In fact, you should try to find that lighter side — for your sake and everyone else’s.
Here’s why having fun at work is good for your career:
- It will boost your creativity. Worried about the robots stealing your job? Focus on building those uniquely human attributes that automation can’t replicate. For example, creativity is increasingly important — and having fun and work and being playful helps to improve creativity. It makes you a better problem-solver and helps you look at things from a different perspective.
- It keeps you healthy, mentally and physically. “Play is essential to our health,” said Dr. Bowen White, founding member of the National Institute for Play, in an interview with CNN. “If you want to have a fun life, you can’t have a fun life without play.” Sound like a stretch? Consider this: according to research, job stress causes 120,000 deaths a year, due to unhealthy behaviors like overeating, not exercising enough and not getting enough sleep. Add a little fun to your workday, and you’ll blow off more steam, connect with your coworkers and possibly reduce your stress levels.
- You won’t sweat the small stuff. One of the greatest reasons to cultivate fun at work is that it helps you to be happier in general — and that comes with a host of benefits. You’ll be less likely to get upset over small things when you’re having fun at work. And, you’ll be able to face larger problems with a calmer attitude too. Enjoying yourself when you’re on the job supports you in facing problems, and solving them, with greater ease.
- You’ll be more likable. Happy people are more pleasant to be around — period. When you prioritize being in a good mood and enjoying your day, you might notice a change in the response you get from those around you. Attitude is everything. Understand the implications of showing up for work with a positive outlook and good energy.
- It helps your coworkers to be happier, too. When you’re having fun, it gives other people permission to enjoy themselves a little more. You are a part of your company’s culture — not just a passive receiver of it. When you have more fun at work, you move the company culture in a lighter, brighter direction.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun during your workday. Being happy isn’t unprofessional, either. (Actually, it’s contagious and therefore a benefit to the entire organization.) So, here are some tips for having more fun at work:
Find the fun
Having fun at work isn’t something that happens to you. You have to create opportunities. Making a point to find — and focus on — the things that you enjoy at work is key. Before beginning a project, take a second to find the fun. Are you happy to have a few minutes just to lean back in your comfy chair and write? Is the sun shining in through your window? Are you excited about the idea or project your about to start?
Having more fun at work begins by consciously making an effort to focus on the good that’s around you rather than the bad. Taking a few minutes to find the fun before starting in on a task won’t take much time. But, it could shift the way you approach your job in a major way.
There’s so much to do in any given workday. Sometimes, you might need a little reminder to step back and appreciate your accomplishments. (This is especially true if your manager isn’t exactly in the habit of complimenting you.) So, when you finish a task, remind yourself to take a moment. Rather than just moving right along to the next thing, simply take a second to appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Look over the completed work and tell yourself that you did a good job.
Acknowledging and celebrating your accomplishments helps to encourage a more positive mindset. Savoring victories, both great and small, is a wonderful way to be happier and have more fun at work. And, it’s often something that has to come from within. You won’t always get the acknowledgements that you deserve from others.
Building strong professional relationships will help you network more meaningfully. And, this can help you to be more successful at your current job as well as the next one.
Plus, having friends at work helps you to enjoy your job more and have more fun. Your coworkers understand the ins and outs of your day-to-day professional life better than anyone else. Forging strong ties allows for fun inside jokes and a lot of camaraderie around your working life. That alone should help you to enjoy your job more.
If you’re like most people, your enjoyment of the present moment is often disturbed by thinking about the past or the future. Mindfulness practices, whether they involve formal meditation or just bringing a different kind of attention to the day, can help you to let go of ruminating on the past and worrying about the future so much. You’ll be more fully present, which will help you have more fun at work, and everywhere else you go.
Keep in mind that mindfulness practice is just that — a practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it and the more you’ll see results. Meditating just once or twice isn’t nearly as impactful as having a regular and sustained practice.
Get more done in less time
You don’t have to be goofing off to enjoy yourself at work — getting more done in less time is fun! Wouldn’t you be happier at work if you can find ways to be a little more efficient?
The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to get more done in less time. Plan your schedule carefully (especially in the mornings) and try to clear distractions for at least a couple hours a day so that you can get into flow state and maximize your productivity. This will help you to save time, which should put you in a great mood and support you in having fun at work more consistently.
Customize the space
You might feel more comfortable and at home at work if you take the time to customize your space a bit. Keep in mind:
- Lighting can make a big difference. Consider supplementing crude overhead lighting by bringing in a desk lamp, for example. Also, work on minimizing glare and maximizing natural lighting in your workspace.
- Some believe that color can have a big impact on mood. Keep this in mind when decorating your office.
- Consider listening to music at work. (Be sure to use headphones if it could disturb your coworkers.) Some people find it helps them to listen to music while others find it distracting. See what works best for you.
- Bring in a couple things to put on your desk that will make you smile. A picture of loved ones, or even just a fun little trinket or two, can be a real mood booster.
Take care of yourself when you’re not at work
It’s difficult to have fun at work if you aren’t taking good care of yourself when you’re not on the job. So, if you really want to enjoy yourself a little more during the day, make caring for yourself more of a priority during the evenings and weekends. Get exercise and plenty of sleep. Eat well. And, spend some time in nature once in a while — it can really boost your mood.
Also, have fun with your friends and family and make time for outside hobbies and interests. You’ll likely enjoy your time at the office more if you’re having more fun outside of work, too.
Work Toward Career Fit
Of course, one of the simplest and easiest ways to have more fun at work is to have a job that you really love. So, if you aren’t crazy about what you’re doing right now, consider working toward a change. You’ll probably have more fun at work If you can shift toward your interests.
There are lots of ways to work toward turning your hobbies into a side gig, or even a career. So, think about what you really love to do and whether or not pursuing those passions professionally is right for you. It’s a wonderful thing to sincerely love what you do. And, there’s no better way to have fun at work.
Tell Us What You Think
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