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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

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.

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 August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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