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If You Think Work Hard and Play Hard Is Not Practical, You Haven’t Really Tried

If You Think Work Hard and Play Hard Is Not Practical, You Haven’t Really Tried
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How many people do you know who complain about work stresses? They may even do a job that they do not enjoy, only to return home at the end of the day with little energy or motivation to do anything. They go to sleep and prepare for the same routine the following day. The concept of work hard play hard is the last thing on their minds.[1] Perhaps you may feel like this some days, too!

A lot of people may not revel in the mundane tasks of their day-to-day life, which is completely normal. As children, we could not wait to become grown-ups, and every year seemed to take forever. Then, one day you were finally an adult, which meant responsibilities, bills, and jobs (but at least you could decide your bed time.)

“Work hard, play hard” is crucial for human development.

In a study published in The Open Psychology Journal, Dr. Lonnie Aarssen conducted a survey that involved almost 1,400 students at Queen’s University.[2] It proved there was a connection between legacy and leisure activities. In other words, the people who had an inclination to work hard also exhibited a strong need for sufficient enjoyment and relaxation.

Dr Aarssen believes that the “work hard, play hard” ethos provides something quite necessary to human existence. “We, unlike any other animals, are aware and concerned about our own self-impermanence,” she said. “Legacy drive and leisure drive have potential to explain our ability to buffer this anxiety. Between these two drives, our ancestors were able to distract from their own self-impermanence, allowing them to cope with the anxiety and thus minimize its potential negative impact on reproductive success.”

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But why is it so hard to get the right balance?

“Work hard, play hard” is sometimes wrongly associated with long days at the office and then going to all-night parties frequently. Yet, this is not a healthy lifestyle either; your body requires enough sleep and we all know that an excessive use of alcohol is never recommended.

Firstly, working hard is not a bad thing. It means that you are being productive to achieve certain goals (which ultimately will lead to affording your lifestyle.)

The “playing hard” part relates to whatever you can do to promote more enjoyment and relaxation in your life. Many people translate this to mean sitting in front of the television for a few hours before eventually going to bed.

I will be honest–when people are talking about the latest or most popular TV series, I am generally clueless. I don’t watch television and I have never owned one. And that is not because I am anti-television; I just never found it mentally relaxing or stimulating.

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Each week, the average American watches more than 34 hours of television. They do it because it appears to be the easiest relaxation outlet. The reality, however, is that you wake up still feeling tired. This is because the artificial lights of the television screen reduce the amount of melatonin your brain creates, which is the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.[3]

By maximizing your free time, you will feel more revitalized, which will lead to being more productive, and therefore make you better able to achieve your goals! Life will also feel more fulfilling than simply “working all the time.”

How to adopt a more “work hard, play hard” lifestyle?

1. Be firm that when you leave work, you actually leave work!

Don’t be tempted to check your work emails at night. Unless it’s an emergency, whatever it is can wait a few hours until the morning.

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2. Identify where you are wasting your free time.

Are you spending hours on television, or on social media every day to unwind? Minimize some of those routines–create a schedule and stick to it.

3. Make a list of the things that interest you instead.

Perhaps there are activities you could do, such as learning another language, going to the gym, or taking up a hobby.

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If leaving the house is not an option, there are other ways to relax at home–perhaps yoga or meditation. Maybe you always wanted to learn to play the guitar, or do some writing? Or, you could simply sit at the dinner table to eat with your loved ones over a conversation, instead of eating in front of the television.

4. Read more.

Reading is one of the best ways to de-stress. Find a book in a genre that appeals to you–you will be more motivated to get to the end.

5. Reward yourself.

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Give yourself little treats from time to time. Book an occasional massage, buy tickets to see a show, or whatever you want to splurge on. And whenever possible, travel more! To “work hard, play hard” means that you’ve earned it.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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