All our lives, we’ve been asked to grow up and get serious. Beginning with our parents and teachers, and then moving on to our bosses, many of us have often heard this homily, “it’s time you got serious about your life”. But what if this very seriousness that leads to lack in playfulness in culling our creativity and productivity, and in a way holding us back? The work hard play hard concept is actually proving to be true.
The 4 Types of Playfulness in Adults
René Proyer, PhD belonging to the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, has spent the last decade and a little more, in studying playfulness and its benefits in adults. In a study, Proyer has identified four different kinds of playfulness in adults:
- Other-directed playfulness: Playing around with friends, family, and coworkers, which include kidding and playing pranks.
- Light-hearted playfulness: Regarding many aspects of life as a game and living with a rather carefree attitude.
- Intellectual playfulness: Playing with different thoughts and ideas, sort of like playacting in the head.
- Whimsical playfulness: Interested in strange or unusual aspects of life, noticing small day-to-day occurrences like Ramanujan discovering the Hardy-Ramanujan number through a taxi he often rode in London.
Why You Need Other-Directed Playfulness and Intellectual Playfulness at Work
When it comes to a work environment, the first and third of these playfulness type are most significant.
Other-directed playfulness means that you as a person keep kidding around and making jokes at office – in a way making yourself and people laugh. This wit of yours not only reduces your stress and makes the life of the office, or even a party, but also makes the workplace a better place to be at for as they say, laughter is indeed the best medicine.
The other important playfulness type at work is intellectual playfulness. These are people with vivid imaginations who can playact situations in their heads and basically make work interesting and less boring. These people turn their work into a game. And by being creative and competitive, they can basically achieve a lot more than the average Joe who simply slogs away at his desk, thinking of work as an important chore. Often outspoken, these are the people who considered being the out-of-the-box thinkers, for they can imagine different solutions to the same problem with ease, making them rather valued employees. Not to say that they aren’t hard-working, rather they follow a work hard play hard kind of lifestyle.
Why Being Playful Can Boost Your Productivity
“Enlightened” companies like Linkedin or Google have dream workplaces where employees can play video games, foosball or even play beach volleyball at the company HQs.. However, these companies are few and far between, though all companies should realize that the best employees are the ones who work hard play hard!
- Playfulness makes work happen faster: When you indulge in gamifying your work, or just make work seem more creative – it seems less boring – and work that is not boring can be completed much faster that a chore that makes you nod off.
- Playfulness leads to creative thinking: If you can view the same problem from one or ten fresh perspectives, you are likely to reach a solution much faster.
- Playfulness lowers stress: An office filled with laughing and smiling employees who are allowed to kid with each other and maybe even compete with each other in various games are likely to be low on stress and high on productivity.
- Playfulness makes for a motivated work force: Employees who are allowed to work hard play hard and not chained to their desk are motivated to do more on an everyday basis for they are happy, satisfied people willing to give all they have to excel at their jobs.
- In totality, playfulness boosts productivity: If you have a workforce that is happy, not stressed, creative thinkers and motivated – you have a super productive workforce indeed. 
5 Ways to Let Playfulness Boost Your Productivity
Now that we’ve extolled the virtues of being playful, let’s talk about how you can incorporate playfulness into your workplace and boost your productivity, keeping in mind that playfulness can never ever equate to hurtfulness. Making fun of others, playing rude and OTT pranks is not what playfulness is about – it’s simply a state of being where you laugh, make others laugh and unleash that creative bent of mind that was hiding in every day’s mundane appearance.
Recapture that excitement
Remember the first day of work? That excitement you felt? Try and get it back – be the same excited and enthused person you were. This will motivate you to do better at work. And excitement is infectious – it rubs of. As does happiness.
Interact with your colleagues at work
You may be witty in your head and have a repartee that could leave them rolling on the floor – but for you to be truly playful, you need to go out and interact with other people. Keeping to yourself or not having the confidence can be a killer – so take a deep breath and start with simply smiling and greeting those you meet. Give them a pat on their back and give credit when its due and slowly you can unleash that comedian hiding underneath your reserved exterior. Share a joke or a riddle, an anecdote that makes you the fall guy and let those smiles and giggles escape those usually pursed lips. This makes you appear human, will usually make people see you in a positive light and make you a popular and nice person to be around, which also means that people will be willing to lend you a helping hand.
Get to know your colleagues out of work too
We spend so much time at work, that it might as well be our second home. So colleagues often become part of our circle of friends as well. Get to know them better by inviting them over for a game, a drink or dinner, or maybe even a movie or short trip. Be fun and play a fun host – let down that proverbial hair and have a good time. Make a joke, a few wisecracks, and when the joke is on you – claim it!. Once you get to know your colleagues on a personal level, you will be able to connect with them better at work as well.
Look at a problem with a creative eye
When faced with a challenge, problem or obstacle at work – don’t approach it like you always do. Instead, think of it like the way you used to solve problems as a child – your approach may have been head on, or breaking the problem into small solvable bits. Don’t be adult about it, be as childish as you like – and you will end up finding a creative, if off the beaten track solution.
Give in to that imp
Sometimes a crummy day deserved a boot to the door, or a few frustrated jumps on spot and a devil of a boss deserved that stuck out tongue. Make sure the coast is clear and give in to that temptation – you’ll feel tons better in a bit. And if a colleague catches you in the act, a wink and a smile will make his day too. Smiling will increase your productivity.
Finally, look at how kids play – no one wins or loses. So even if you invite a few friends over, keep any agendas out of it. Enjoy and be in the moment and just exist in calm, serene and hilarious waters for a while.
|||^||Science Direct: Proyer Study|
|||^||Help Guide: Laughter is the Best Medicine|
|||^||Psy Wb: The Virtuousness of Adult Playfulness|
|||^||Fox News: Work Hard Play Harder|
|||^||Reader’s Digest: Playful Productivity|
|||^||Psychology Today: The 7 Habits of Highly Playful People|
|||^||Tiny Buddha: 10 Ways To Make Your Life More Playful|