Should You Really Be Playing?

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Scenario: "Dude, we can't play. We gotta work. Yay!" Say you have a client project due next month.

What's the best way then to "Wow!" your client?

  • A) Schedule play everyday.
  • B) Schedule work everyday.

Conventional wisdom would tell you: "It's B! It's B!" But, conventional wisdom -- as seemingly always -- sucks. Locking yourself up into your office will get you shabby results, where you keep yourself busy without producing much -- according to Berkeley Psychologist Neil Fiore. Scheduling play everyday instead stimulates your soul to work much more productively, while keeping your morale higher than a freakish eagle.

How Play Speeds Productivity

Remember a big 10-page term paper in college that you had due in about a week, but hadn't yet started? Did something interrupt you between those days (e.g. a ball game, a concert, a night club, an evening run, a yadda)? Let's decipher two scenarios that could happen:

Option ^1: "Nope! I wasn't interrupted."

If you didn't let anybody interrupt you, you probably still completed your work -- albeit, you felt pretty dull during most of the process. Instead of driving your entire heart, body, and soul into every minute of your working hours, you instead went through a similar route:

  • 1st day: Go over notes.
  • 2nd day: Go over notes.
  • 3rd day: Go over notes.
  • 4th day: Write 1st page.
  • 5th day: Edit 1st page.
  • 6th day: Write 2nd page.
  • 7th day: Write 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th pages. Proofread, cite, review, design cover letter, print, yadda.

You scheduled 7 days to work -- but, you really completed the majority of your work within a fraction of the alloted time. According to Fiore's study:

The anticipation of extended isolation from friends and recreation is likely to promote procrastination.

Option ^2: "Yes! I was interrupted."

Now, if you scheduled play: You not only (1) had a frickin' good sexy time, but (2) your productivity most likely soared. Why? Your badass subconsciously told yourself: "Since I have limited time to work on my paper, I will have to work more efficiently. Therefore, I will have to smartly plan my working schedule."

  • 1st day: "Crap! I only have four days to write ten pages. I'll go over notes and write the first 3 pages today, so I don't feel guilty about going to the concert tomorrow."
  • 2nd day: Fun-sexy-time! Attend concert.
  • 3rd day: "The concert energized me. Let's write the next 3 pages."
  • 4th day: Fun-sexy-time! Attend ballgame.
  • 5th day: "My morale's rockin'. Again, let's write the next 3 pages."
  • 6th day: Fun-sexy-time! Run the College Invitational.
  • 7th day: Write final page. Deal with logistics. Finish!

Cheesy language aside, scheduling play ironically drives you to be much more productive according to Fiore:

We are more likely to work productively when we can anticipate pleasure and success rather than isolation and anxiety.

How to Schedule Play

You'd think to schedule play, you'd have to:

  1. Schedule work first.
  2. Schedule play second.

But when you see your work schedule filled with work, scheduling play becomes super difficult. Instead, do what performance psychologists recommend:

  1. Schedule play first.
  2. Schedule work second.

You'll start seeing yourself churning the shizzle out of every working hour. We promise.

Play first, playa.


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Posted on March 14

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