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A version of this post first appeared here at Attorney at Work.

two multicolored slinky toys

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We know that free-play is important to the development of children. But it’s also really important in the life of an adult. You may think that you don’t need to play, that you don’t have time to play, but there are good reasons to incorporate play into your life in order to be successful in life and in work.

What is play?

Brené Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly, describes play as anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness. In other words, something that you experience as fun! Researcher Stuart Brown, MD (who is not related to Brené Brown), describes play as time spent without purpose. Unfortunately, I agree with Brené Brown, when she responds to this idea with “this sounds like the definition of an anxiety attack. I feel behind if I’m not using every last moment to be productive, whether that means working, cleaning the house or taking my son to baseball practice.” Agreed. I mean, I barely have time to do all the purposeful things I need to do. Why would I waste time doing something that has no purpose!? Because play is important.

  1. The importance of play.

Play itself – meaning the activity in which you are engaging – need not have a purpose in the sense that it is not directly related to your productivity, not related to getting things done, and not related to achieving your financial or career goals. But it does have a purpose: creating the space in your mind where ideas can be born, perspective can improve, and the self is nurtured. In other words, play refreshes your mind and body, increases energy and prevents burnout, triggers creativity and innovation, and helps you see problems in new ways. But that’s not all.

  1. Play is directly related to your success.

Research shows that “playing” relieves stress by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. As we know, success at work is highly dependent upon the quality of your work, not just the quantity. And the quality of work is dependent upon your well-being. So, ultimately, play is vitally important to your success, in life and in work.

  1. Wanna come out and play?

Play is different for everyone. It should be something that you enjoy such that you lose track of time. It could be an organized sport, like basketball or tennis. Maybe it’s brain-games like chess, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku. It could be a creative endeavor like painting, drawing, or scrapbooking; or performing arts such as an improv or dance class. Or maybe it’s something that gets you moving but is more meditative, such as snorkeling, yoga, or hiking. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Incorporate playfulness into your work.

Your work is serious, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be serious all the time, even in the office. When you hit a “glitch” in a matter or project, take some time out to “play” to reset your mind and come back with a fresh perspective on problem-solving. A small basketball hoop could help, or an air-hockey table in an extra conference room. Ask a colleague to join you, as playing with colleagues encourages teamwork and builds comradery.

  1. But what if it’s been so long since you played that you can’t remember what you like to do for fun?

Never fear. Even if you haven’t engaged in an activity simply for the fun of it in a really long time, most likely there was a time in your past when you played. Think back to that time – maybe it was when you were a kid – and make a list of all the things you enjoyed back then. Which still sound appealing to you? Coloring? There are lots of great adult coloring books available. Playing pretend? Maybe try an acting class, or go see a play. Playing with your family pet? Perhaps volunteer at a local animal shelter. Photography? Pull that camera out and get out in the world and take some photos. Playing board games? Organize a monthly game night with friends. LEGOs? There are some seriously awesome LEGO sets available. Get creative. Try something you liked in the past, or try something new.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” When was the last time you played? No matter how long ago, make today the next time you play!

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One way to Be Great is to show compassion and give of ourselves. There are even ways to actually give part of yourself as a compassionate act of giving. My daughter did such an act last week: she cut off 12 inches of her beautiful hair to donate to Locks of Love.

2018-04-30 16.05.07

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. According to Locks of Love website:

“Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge.”

It’s a small thing to cut your hair, but the difference it can make for another child is BIG.

Be Great! #begreat

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Friday FiveA short Friday Five post at Attorney at Work that has five of my favorite productivity tips, gleaned from interviews with five successful people who are able to accomplish loads.

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I thought this article was helpful and contained some great tips on nutrition to help ward off cold & flu this season. It’s at Scholastic magazine and lists superfoods, including (my favorite) sweet potato, salmon, broccoli, milk, oatmeal, and more.

sweet potato

Photo by Mark Lund at http://www.Scholastic.com

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We are going on vacation today to next Thursday, so I won’t be around for blogging. I’m not taking my computer and have decided to be (mostly) disconnected during our time away. It’s only sun and fun for me and my family. This time for rest and relaxation will also be a time of rejuvenation. As I’ve said before, it is important for us to remember to find time for downtime. Here’s some of my favorite posts on the benefits of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation:

Beach with palm treesThe Importance of Quieting Your Mind

Remember to Rest

The Importance of Sleep

Remember the Importance of Rest

Stillness is Important to Good Health

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Time Management MetaphorSo life is full of irony, right? And we must remember to laugh. Like last week. My blog editorial calendar has “time management post” for Monday, April 2. But, of course, I couldn’t find the time to write that post!

I always say that one of the best ways to manage a busy schedule is to delegate some of your tasks. That is what I’m doing here.  Here is my short post — with a link to Phillip Taylor’s longer and helpful article on time management. The article provides information on free online tools for time management as well as five really good tips for mastering your time.

I hope you find it helpful!

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Peaceful chairsHere’s a great post by Jeff Gitterman on the importance of meditation. It is adapted from his book “Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity” © 2009 Jeffrey L. Gitterman, published by AMACOM Books (www.amacombooks.org).

As you’ll see, he’s not necessarily talking about “sitting crossed-legged on a cushion” but rather he’s referring to any activity that allows us to stop listening to the endless chatter in our heads. Some people call it the “monkey mind”; I know my “monkey” is very chatty most of the time and meditation will help “get me out of my head” and out of my own way so that I can accomplish things.

Here’s an excerpt from his article:

“When I use the term meditation, I don’t necessarily mean sitting cross-legged on a cushion but rather participating in any deliberate activity that helps us to disengage from a compulsive relationship with our stream of thought. There are numerous books that have been written over the years on the subject of meditation and how to disengage from the thinking mind or, more simply put, how to stop listening to the voice inside our head. It’s important that each of us find our own method that works best.

The benefit of learning how to disengage our attention from the thought stream is that we can then apply our minds more readily toward more constructive things, such as accomplishing tasks and connecting with other people and our own true purpose. It creates space within us — an opening that allows more energy to flow into us. In this seemingly paradoxical way, having more space in our minds allows us to accomplish more and more things in the world.”

Read the full article here.

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