According to Professor John P. Trougakos of University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management, mental concentration works like how a muscle does. Your brain needs to take occasional breaks in order to resume optimum performance. Forcing yourself to get everything done in one sitting will eventually exhaust you and drain you out. In fact, it’s advisable to take breaks at least every fifteen minutes according to Dr. James Levine, a professor at the Mayo Clinic and a supporter of “nap breaks” in the office. He says our bodies are not made for sitting for hours on end so we have to move around to get the blood sugar system going.
Although thorough research is still needed regarding this matter, according to The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013 managers seem to be joining the trend of encouraging “play” in the office. They believe it not only strengthens teamwork, but more so brings out the best in people. In fact, Playworks.org, a national non-profit organization that encourages play and physical activity among children in schools, supports this idea of playtime in the office by awarding the “Most Playful CEO” title to the most-deserving CEO in the country. Cartoon Network executive Stuart Snyder, hailed “Most Playful CEO” of 2012, says, “Playing, having fun and laughing together improves our work ethic”. This not only enhances their working relationships but also creates a fun experience while working.
This is especially evident in software development companies where it’s brimming with young people who easily get burned out due to the nature of their work. Playtime comes as essential since it also helps get their creative juices flowing.
Here are some tips you might want to try for yourself:
1. Joke around.
It may sound simple and silly but the truth is having some laughs puts you in a better mood and boosts your energy. It creates a relaxing environment to ease things up around work. Try putting up a humor signboard in your office and see just how funny you and your colleagues can get. A good example of a company applying this tactic is consulting firm BackTaxeshelp.com, that has a page dedicated to IRS and tax related jokes to at least ease the mind of not only their employees but also their tax-paying clients.
2. Act and react.
The best ideas sometimes come from those conversations-turned-brainstorming moments you have with your colleagues. Often, the crazier it gets, the more brilliant ideas you end up with. You’ll just have to find your crazy buddy.
3. Stimulate your mind.
Engage yourself and your colleagues in mind activities. This may be as simple as solving puzzles or doodling. You may also interest yourselves with clay and start molding. This will really get your mind going and even open ideas you won’t normally think of. There are also gadgets/equipment that can enhance your imagination.
4. Have a themed week/month.
Have a theme every week or month where you can express your creative and fun side. This may be as simple or as extravagant as you like. You may even have an awards night at the end of every week or month to acknowledge those who have been the “wackiest” or “most creative”.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a recreational area (e.g., gym, pool table, etc.) in your office then visit it occasionally. This will not only let you interact with the people in your office but will also help you build relationships with them. Organize game nights/lunches if you can to get everyone to participate.
6. Break the ice.
Ice breakers are really helpful in putting you in a comfortable state that’ll boost your confidence, even enabling you to pitch better ideas. You can start with sharing some trivia or fun facts about yourselves, impersonate someone in the office and have everyone guess who it is, have some brain teaser competition that’ll treat the winner to lunch, and so on.
7. Get crafty creative.
Create your own recreational area that’ll allow people to relax and get creative. You may bring in some props and put them in the office. Hold some workshops among yourselves where you teach each other things you’re good at. This is a great way to learn new things without spending a dime. Plus, it keeps your mind off work and opens it to new ideas. Some may even end up helping you with work.
More and more people are recognizing the importance of “play” in the work environment. Although, it’s not the same formula for all companies so be sure to find the right mix. Also, be careful not to overdo it that you end up being less productive.
So the next time you get stressed out, goof off a little. Not only will it help you get that steam out, it may also get you cracking’ for that next project.
Anna Rodriguez is a training manager for a Philippine real estate developer. She also has varied background in real estate brokerage, investing, and content writing.
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