Work is something we are all engaged in. This applies to any activity you undertake on a regular basis. This may take the form of paid job, school work or even house chores. I have heard people say that “work is not supposed to be fun, because that is why it is called work.” However, doing the same or similar activities every day can become stressful, or boring. For example, recent studies show that over 80 percent of Americans and about 60 percent of Canadians experience work related stress. The values are similar globally and may even be worse for those who have to work from home. In addition, we spend over half of our waking life working. So, it would be nice to actually enjoy the work we do or make the work more fun.
But, is it possible to enjoy work or have fun while working? Yes, it is important that we enjoy whatever work we are engaged in as much as possible, as this will enable us perform better, thereby making the work less boring and also we will feel less stress. That being said, having fun at work does not necessarily dampen our focus or make the work less serious.
My interest in this subject matter started when I realized that I did not derive so much pleasure from working, as I did when playing video game. It did not take me long to find out the reason for this. Then I decided to replicate it into my work or essentially any regular activity and make it as pleasurable as playing a video game. Yes, I mean, making your work as addictive and as pleasurable as playing a video game, or something to look forward to, rather than just a boring responsibility or chore. Studies show that those who enjoy their work are happier and therefore more productive. Making your work fun or enjoying your work creates a positive mental attitude which increases your focus and creativity, and relieves stress.
What makes video games so pleasurable and addictive?
Have you ever wondered why video games or even certain drugs are so addictive? Well the reason is simple. They trigger the release of chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, which activates the reward centre of the brain leading to the pleasurable sensations. In addition, they can also inhibit release of stress hormones like cortisone leading to relief from stress. The brain can also “learn” from this experience in that the mere thought or sight of the video game can trigger the experience of these pleasure sensations. You may say this is not logical but so are our neuronal networks. They are not designed to be logical, but designed to work from experience. The same reason why the sight of a dead snake can still trigger fear, even when you know that the snake is dead. Your brain has simply learned that snakes are dangerous. Now that you know what makes you addicted to, or derive so much pleasure from certain activities, here are some tips on how you can make your work addictive or pleasurable too, and therefore more fun.
Do the work you enjoy or enjoy the work you do
You will experience more pleasure when you are engaged in a job or activity that you already enjoy doing. Even if you started out without any love for the job or activity, or you are doing it as something temporary, you can still grow to love it. One way to do this is to strive to excel in the job. When you achieve mastery in an activity, it becomes effortless and less laborious, and you are more likely to enjoy it. If not, then find something you love. There is no point engaging every day in a job you do not like. This can increase your stress level instead and impair your productivity.
Be prepared for the work
Ensure you are prepared and qualified for the activity or work beforehand. Try to anticipate what is required for the work and get them ready beforehand. Being prepared increases your cognitive function and alertness. This will make you more productive and fulfilled, thus making the experience more pleasurable.
Start your day with enthusiasm and motivation
If possible start your day with a playlist of selected music that gets you in the right mood or by reading some motivational verses or quotes. Or anything that sets you in the right mood. This places you in a positive attitude to complete your tasks.
Give your best to your work and be good at what you do
Work is an opportunity to showcase your skill and creativity. Focus on the work at hand, put in your best in what you do and take feedback from your supervisors or peers seriously. Always strive to do more than you are paid to do. This will make your work high quality, improve your skills, give you more confidence, and more fulfillment. This will invariably give you pleasure. To be good at what you do means working really hard to master all the skills necessary to complete the job. This could mean going for extra training, making extra personal efforts, working overtime or doing more than is expected of you. It may be laborious at the beginning but once mastery is achieved it becomes effortless.
Have a healthy work relationship with your peers
Having a healthy work relationship with your colleague is also important for boosting your own work and making your work experience fun. For example, helping a colleague with a chore once in a while, participating in scheduled fun activities at work, giving a colleague a smile or compliment can help create a pleasurable work environment.
Make your work environment look nice and attractive
The look of your work environment can have an impact on how you perceive your work. You can put some memorable photos or decorations around your office space, work space or even your lunch bag, if you don’t have a work space. A nice and inviting work environment can boost work experience and make you to look forward to getting back to work. Also, changing your scenery once in a while can produce similar effects, especially for those who work from home.
See your work as an opportunity to solve problems
Try to solve every problem that arises and don’t neglect it. Sometimes you can even go further to anticipate problems and try to solve them ahead before they occur. Try solving problems with your work daily. When you make problem-solving a habit, this will transform into something to look forward to, like an “addiction”. This puts you in constant sync with your work. Thus, making your work more pleasurable and more fun.
Competition makes your work more fun and therefore something to look forward to. You can either create competition with yourself by setting tougher work goals for yourself or with your peers, for example by setting who will complete an activity fastest. Such competitions can trigger the pleasure regions of the brain, and make the time run fast. This is how pleasure and addiction are generated from video games.
Being creative means coming up with ways to make you work better. For example, large and complicated work can sometimes be overwhelming. A creative approach to make large work less overwhelming can be to break down large jobs into smaller jobs that can be completed with ease, and therefore more pleasurable and more fulfilling. Another creative approach may be how to find ways of making a repetitive activity less monotonous. This can be achieved by singing quietly or listening to music as you work. I personally used this method in the past and it was very effective.
Work while you work and play while you play, don’t mix
For good work-life balance, you should not mix work with pleasure. To enjoy your work is not the same thing as mixing your work with pleasure. Sometimes taking a few portions of your work home may be inevitable, but this should not become a habit. You should give your mind enough time to navigate completely away from work. This will make you more creative and you will better enjoy both your work time and time away from work.
Organize your work and allow time for specific activities
As much as possible, set up a to-do-list and tick each activity you have accomplished for the day, noting those needing more work and those that are yet to be accomplished. Discipline yourself to accomplish those activities. Do not procrastinate and do not leave stuff unattended. Some apps are available to help categorize your activities with visual cues to show your progress. This helps to keep your mind focused on the work and can help improve productivity and relieve stress.
Create time for relaxation and rest
Whether you are working alone or in a team, rest is a necessity. Use rest time for rest only, so you can recuperate and prepare yourself for the next task. If your workplace has a relaxation room, use it to help you unwind between tasks. Even a few minutes of walking around from a protracted sitting can help clear your head and enhance creativity. In the same vein, create time for relaxation after work such as meditation, leisure, eating out, and vacation.
Celebrate your blessings and achievements
Studies show that celebrating or acknowledging our achievements, no matter how small they are, give us more motivation, boost our confidence, and make our work more pleasurable. You can do this at regular intervals such as monthly, or each time you complete a goal or activity.
Look at the positive side
There will always be times when you feel down or unproductive, but always keep a positive attitude. Life is not a bed of roses. Bad times will surely come but they will surely go as well. So do not let bad or hard times define you. Be determined to remain positive, no matter the prevailing situation. Thinking about your past or recent achievements and anything that makes you happy can help you maintain a positive disposition in times of low vibes.
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