Invite PLAY into your calendar

Today I want to talk about something very serious, and that is PLAY.

I truly believe that we are all creative beings, yet we don’t play as often as we used to when we were kids. Why is that? Studies show that play plays a significant role in a child’s development. Through play, the child learns how to interact with others, moral codes and testing the boundaries. But what about adults? Why is it a common belief that when we reach a certain age we know everything and don’t need play as much as we used to?

Of course that is not the case. We need play during our entire life. I believe that’s why we get so moved when we see someone who truly embraces their ability to be in their childlike state of mind, and don’t care about what other people think as long as they get to experience what’s most joyful for them.

What is play?

I would say that play is the very special state of mind where you forget time and space and you’re focused on the joy of doing what you’re doing. You just do it for the sake of doing it, and it’s nothing to be gained from the activity. Afterwards, you feel inspired and full of energy.

If you’re a bullet journal enthusiast like me, you might enjoy spending time with your bullet journal a sort of play. If you’re an artist, you know how it is to just lose yourself into the joy of creating art. 5 hours go by like that and you haven’t even noticed it.

The act of play is very similar to flow, a concept founded by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975 and describing a “mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.” (Wikipedia)

Why is play important?

Even if the most of us have experienced the flow state, we tend to look down on people who are acting as if they were playing. The flow state is considered a desirable state to achieve. But people in the “grown up world” tend to look at flow and play as childish and nothing they consider would be worthwhile even investigating the benefits of.

Inviting this state of mind would make many people much more effective at work. But it comes with a downside, which is that many people are afraid of being thought of as childish or not serious enough. If more people could recognize the benefits of being in a flow state, we would have a much healthier work environment.

I believe that you are wiser that that, and that you actually DO want to invite PLAY and FLOW into your planning and calendar in order to get into the flow state more often.

Creative activities you can start out with to add play every day:

If you’ve read my blog before (for example, see my blog post The Sunday Reset, where I talk about what you can do as a routine every week), you know that I’m a huge fan of planning ahead. Every Sunday I plan the week ahead and every Monday morning before I start my workday, I sit with my journal and calendar for a while to amp it up a bit to add some “magic” and beauty to it.

It is a soothing and pleasurable activity for sure. I grab my acrylic colors, my markers and get started. If you want to start adding some beauty and play into your calendar as well, here’s my top tips for how you get started:

  • Do some zen art first thing in the morning.
  • Doodle in your calendar. If you have a bullet journal, dedicate a spread/ collection for doodles, so that you can do it every day before the day starts.
  • Do some some lettering in your calendar or bullet journal.
  • Try out intuitive drawing.
  • For you bullet journalists out there: Get creative with the layout of your weekly spread, and try out something new! You might already use stickers/ washi tape, and if you do, you know how much fun it is. But also try out some new moves and try out something new every single morning. Make it a challenge to do a new look to your to do list every morning for a week.
  • If you’re a digital planner person and use Goodnotes for example, you have no limits! You can create stickers and fun stuff all day long, import stuff from the Internet to get creative with your planning.

The 5 color workweek system

One way to get really creative with your planning is to actually plan out your weeks in a creative manner. I use a system that I came up with which I call the “5 color workweek system” and it goes like this:

MONDAY: MAP
TUESDAY: SKETCH
WEDNESDAY: SHOOT
THURSDAY: EDIT & SCHEDULE
FRIDAY: PLAY

Here’s how it works: Mondays I map out the entire week. Social media posts, blog content, sales calls, everything. Tuesdays I sketch my content, write manuscripts, ads, social media, outline my book & courses. Wednesdays I do the hard work and write, create blog posts and keynote presentations for my courses, shoot video etc. Thursdays I edit everything that I created during Wednesday’s SHOOT sessions. I also schedule calls and meetings to Thursdays.

Fridays are play days!

Fridays are PLAY days. That’s where the real work actually is being created, even though it might not look that way for an outsider. This way I ensure that I get PLAY into my schedule and I can’t escape it. Friday’s are for play and play only. This is the most effective way to come up with new ideas.

But this is where I block time to investigate new ideas, cross-nische, sketch and explore new terrains. This is where my brain really goes on a roller coaster and yet it’s the most important work I can do in the long run. When I look back on the things that mean the most to me in my business, I can always trace it back to those Fridays, where I had time to explore and get into the FLOW state almost by demand. And I can’t tell you how rewarding it is. even if you aren’t able to block an entire day, try to block as much time as possible to just be with that inner playful genius of yours. I know it’s in there, and the thing it wants most is to be able to play again.

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