Why taking time for fun is important for our business? – Birds on the Blog

Why taking time for fun is important for our business?

 When I grew up working hard was ‘morally good’.  As we worked ourselves into the ground, missing time with friends, family, leisure, fun and health – we were cheered on.  As we get older we realise that work is just like any other addiction – destructive to our lives and our health.  Ironically its no good for our work either.

I get in my head that it isn’t right.  Therapy types call it ‘intellectualising’ – understanding something intellectually but not putting it into practice.  You’ve probably heard the example – it’s the care plan but not the delivery of the plan.

Running a business reminds me of being a student.

There is never nothing to do.  It’s the realisation that you could work 24/7 and that inbox still wouldn’t be empty.  If that’s true why do we continue beating our heads against a brick wall to get it all done?

As research surrounds us telling us that ideally over 40s wouldn’t work more than three days.  This is apparently the optimum number of hours for people in that age group to work, to reach their optimum level of productivity.  We smile, nod, agree even – may even mutter ‘chance would be a fine thing’ and the promptly get back to working too many hours, exhausting ourselves and risking burnout.  We occasionally engage in bursts of green tea, wheatgrass and hideously coloured juices, hit the HIIT, the gym, even run around the block – this is our concession to the ‘other stuff’.

But are we right?

Is it really true that those who work hard get what they want?  Not in my world.  In my world we just get tired and sick and in those quiet moments at 4am we realise that we are not satisfied, we are not content, surrounded as we are by the big house, with all of the latest Habitat guff.

What if we are wrong?  What if all of this ‘do-gooder’ stuff about having fun, taking time out, relaxing, reading books, taking nanna naps, colouring in, going for random catch up coffees in the middle of the work day – just for a chat, with no reference to work at all – is actually good for you.  What if its really good for your work and your business?  What if it isn’t just warm, fluffy stuff to make us feel good?

I did some research and guess what?

When you take time out to do something you enjoy – your body releases hormones – happy ones.  And better still the release of those hormones helps you power through that work when you get back to it?  There is actual science to prove that doing something fun is good for business.

What else could taking time out mean?  I am a writer – I find it very difficult to be creative when I’m tired and overwhelmed.  Yet writing also makes me feel better, why don’t I prioritise something that makes me feel good and benefits my business.  Why do I default to ‘getting the work stuff done and then I can write’?  That just means that I never get to the creative writing that I love so much.  And reality check here – to write about life – you have to have one!  Otherwise, I am only ever going to be able to write about tired, overworked, stressed people 😊.

So, time out can make you more creative, we know it reduces stress and overwhelm, it can make you more productive when you are working, it just has to mean that your decisions are clearer and better.  Business planning which is such a creative process has to be done better when you’re less tired and stressed.

We need to get a bit real here as well.  If I don’t turn up for work today or take time out to catch up on some fiction reading – nobody will die.  My work, however important it is to me, is not life or death.  If you are a doctor, nurse or a surgeon – perhaps having someone’s life in your hands means that you should prioritise giving your brain some downtime for the good of your patients, so your brain and hands are operating at their very best.

So, let’s have a group challenge

This week let’s all do one completely frivolous thing – go for coffee in the middle of the workday, pull out those underused garden lounges with a good book and chilled glass of Sangria, take a nanna nap, have lunch with a friend, sit in a café and write something you just ‘want to’.  I’d love to hear how you feel afterwards.

Nicole Johnston

About the Author Nicole Johnston

I offer a range of communications, policy and writing services. My extensive experience comes from central Government, Third sector organisations and businesses, both in the UK and Australia. I have held senior policy and communications positions advising Ministers and senior officials including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, the Economic Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State for International Development and Ministers for the Home Office, amongst others. In addition I have worked at an international level working with the United Nations, the Word Bank and Gates Foundation, to name a few. Writing is my passion in all forms. When I'm not helping people with their communications and policy, I write novels. If you need some help or advice then please feel free to contact me on nicole@njcommunications.uk. If you can’t see what you are looking for listed here then get in touch, as this list in not comprehensive. I look forward to hearing from you.

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