Put the fun in function
Ideas to make even the most mundane jobs fun -
by Brook Montagna
Where's the fun in your daily functions? With bills to pay, emails to answer, reports to write, projects to complete, phone calls to return, laundry to do, doctors to visit, forms to complete, children to care for, finances to manage, and relationships to squeeze in somewhere, life can feel completely overwhelming and not much fun at times.
Since all these important things need to be done, as they are the substance of your life (this not a dress rehearsal), doesn't it make sense to find ways to have more fun while doing each functional task?
When we think of fun, we usually think of weekend activities, or hitting the escape button and going on vacation. But here are some suggestions for making ordinary life more fun.
Plan for the Future, but Live for Now
Good planning is essential, and it can be a lot of fun to plan. But after the plans are made, it's time to implement them in the present moment. Worrying is not planning! Worrying about the outcome of our plans takes us away from enjoying activities in the present. A good plan is like an anchor in the storm of worry. If you get caught in worry, come back to your plans and take action Now, where you can also have more fun.
We are more likely to experience fun when we are fully present to the smells, tastes, sounds, sights, and feelings of an experience. That's not to say that there aren't moments when we experience unpleasant sensations. But isn't it the case that we often tend to focus on what we don't like more than on what we do like? For example, we can be very upset and obsessed over being in a traffic jam, and completely miss hearing our favourite song playing on the radio.
It's a matter of focus. To experience more joy in the moment, shift your focus and pay close attention to pleasant experiences. Take this a step further and begin to expect, seek, and create more pleasant moments.
Break the No-Fun Habit, Get Creative, and Look for Opportunities
Focusing on the unpleasant and worrying about the future are No-Fun habits. We can be so focused on what we don't like, on what could, should, or might happen, or on getting to the end of a task, "when we will be happy", that we miss the opportunity to have some fun along the way.
Break these No-Fun habits. Before doing any task, especially a task that is mundane, or one that you dread or fear, ask yourself, "How can I make this more fun?" Then, give yourself some time for your mind to come up with creative answers. Sometimes the answer is as simple as just slowing down to be more present so that you can enjoy each part of a task. (Or, decide to hire someone to do it for you, so you can focus on things you enjoy more.)
Here are some examples of creative ways to have more fun at tasks that are not often enjoyed:
Paying Bills, Filing, Data Entry
Make your surroundings beautiful and peaceful or position a photo or painting that puts a smile on your face. Light relaxing aroma therapy candles and play music that comforts. Try some colour, calligraphy, or artwork on your files or envelopes. Set mini goals and schedule Mini-Celebrations (see below). Post cheerful affirmations like, "I am open to fun in every moment!"
Cold Calling/Telephone Follow Up
Use a headset. Use a heating pad on your chair. Soak your feet when calling. Make a chart using stickers with different facial expressions depending on how you experienced the call, or how you think the other person experienced the call. Put pictures of happy people in front of you, so that you have a visual of a positive conversation with someone. Set fun outcomes for your call, not just business outcomes. For example: Get a laugh, say something inspirational, or share a helpful tip.
Cleaning the Garage
Share the load. Find a friend who also needs to clean his/her garage and spend time together doing both garages. Every half hour or so, think of silly ways to use the miscellaneous junk you find. Play upbeat music. Schedule Mini-Celebrations (see below).
Create the Fun Habit with Mini-Celebrations Each Day
Mini-Celebrations are planned Fun Breaks that are quick, easy, and inexpensive. These breaks are different from unplanned, random breaks you may be taking now, such as going to the refrigerator many times a day to snack even though you are dieting, mindlessly watching a TV show you don't even like, surfing the net for no reason, or reading emails that are not important to you.
Mini-Celebrations are intentional ways to brighten and lighten your day and to create the Fun Habit. The following are just a few ideas of Mini-Celebrations you can do in 5-10 minutes:
Now add your own ideas and schedule 3 or more mind shifting Mini-Celebrations from your list each day. Doing so costs very little in time, energy, or money, but it will bring you great rewards by helping to put FUN in function!
Brook Montagna coaches individuals, partners, and groups to excellence in their personal and professional lives. Her free newsletter, The Mindful Life, is dedicated to helping people live mindfully and create enjoyable success.