Productivity and Play

Summer has officially arrived, woohoo! Which is so exciting, but it also can be frustrating for a lot of us who spend our days inside on the computer, in meetings, or in the car traveling to appointments. Our natural desire to be productive clashes with our human desire to play outside and bask in the sun.  

In order to not feel trapped by our lives and structure, I want to welcome you to think about where you have more freedom and flexibility to make your time feel productive and playful versus being in the "one-or-the-other" mindset. So much of our lives we trap ourselves in boxes, certain ways of thinking or doing. For instance, our culture likes to depict cleaning our house as being a purely productive activity. We automatically equate relaxing in the sun by the pool to "playing around". But in our modern society, we get to be creative and make life a both/and. It all starts with our mindset. So, this summer, I want to welcome you to flip the script and explore where you can make productivity and play a both/and, rather than an either/or

This doesn't have to be just in the workplace, it can also be practiced with your various house chores or personal responsibilities. For instance, I'm working on making gardening feel both playful AND productive. I am approaching gardening not from a "have to" mindset where this chore must be crossed off the list. Instead, I think of it as a way to be playful with my partner as we do something productive for our house and physical space.

One of my clients, Kathy, is practicing embodying this both/and energy in her workday so that she doesn't feel resentful to her job during the summer—a time when she wants freedom and fun in her life. During our session, Kathy and I explored her routine to find where she can shift her mindset of feeling like a prisoner to her schedule into a mindset of having flexibility with her time. I asked her to think about her transitions and how she can make her transitions not only feel productive (since they are  a means to an end) but also be a place where she can sprinkle some playful energy. Some ideas she brainstormed were: trying a different form of commuting (ie. biking to work vs. driving, taking a new route home); taking her lunch break outside so she could get sun and fresh air; or taking a walk with a co-worker for a dose of social interaction and connection. By shifting her mindset to focus on where she does have more control over her schedule, she was able to add some intentional, playful energy into her productive schedule. 

In the past, I had another client discuss resistance to doing dishes because it felt like a miserable chore. The impulse was to put the dishes off, but this just made the situation more daunting and overwhelming. So, instead of feeling guilty and overwhelmed, we reframed her mindset and found some play in the chore. She decided to put on her favorite song and dance to the music trying to finish their stack of dishes before the song was over. Not only did she have fun listening and dancing but she had fun racing against the clock trying to beat her previous time. 

These are simple examples, but there are endless ways to make our actions and decisions a both/and so that we don't feel trapped by our thinking or black/white way of being. The first step to shifting your mindset is gaining awareness. Take some action below.

To add both play and productivity in your life, follow these steps:
I invite you to pause and reflect on your life right now. Take a moment to jot down where there is a strong desire to be productive in your life and where you are also faced with some resistance (ie. working on a project, studying for an exam, organizing a closet etc.) If you are finding there are a few spots, brain-dump them all down, then circle the one that is the most prevalent. Take your circled item and brainstorm how you can make this action feel more playful (see image below). As you focus on the play aspect, notice how your body starts to feel. Typically people feel lighter, more bubbly and flexible. Pick which playful option excites you more and BAM... you have both a playful and productive activity on your hands. 

Feeling stuck with this activity? Send me a note and I will help you out.