Where does it say that you can have fun only when you're away from work? What rule dictates that your business is where you must "be serious?" Come on, lighten up a bit. Far too many people spend five days of their week just waiting for the weekend when they can have a good time and relax.

Much of this goes back to the Industrial Age economic model. In this Industrial Age model, jobs were broken down into smaller and smaller tasks that could be repeated again and again for maximum productivity. The assembly line, right? As it turns out, it wasn't just the assembly line jobs that were treated this way. Salespeople, accountants, managers and others in the organization were subjected to the same job design.

As a result, for the past 150 years, we've been taught that time on the job must be non-stop hard work in order to be most productive. Many of us learned this from our parents and early bosses. We heard messages such as "Work really hard and you'll be rewarded." Or, "You're here to work, not play around. Get busy."

No wonder so many people started to look toward their time away from work as a respite from hard labor and grim pressure. Days off and weekends began to be treasured as time to enjoy ourselves, relax and have a little fun.

Trouble is, many people now feel they have to take fewer days off to stay caught up with increasing work demands. Working weekends has become standard practice for many overworked business professionals.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals are even worse at this. This group works an average of 12 hours per week more than the average employee.

So where do we have room to have fun? How do we have the time to enjoy the work? Let's examine this from a couple of different angles.

First, let's step back a few paces and take a bird's-eye view of your business or job. Are you really doing something that you enjoy? Does your job or your enterprise give you satisfaction? Are you fully using your natural talents and aptitude?

How do you discover your natural talents? First write down a list of those things that you do that seem easy for you. These are the things that you can do that seem almost effortless. Often the tasks that are easy for us are those where we have a special aptitude.

Next, make a list of those things you do where time just seems to fly by. When you're doing these activities, you may look up and realize that several hours have passed without you even realizing it. This is a good clue to activities where you have natural talent.

Finally, write all the activities that make you happy. These are things that make you smile. These are the tasks you would do just for yourself, with no promise of gain, just because they're fun, interesting and fulfilling.

Look through the three lists to find the common activities. These are likely to be the areas of your natural aptitude and talent. These are the areas of greatest potential for you. Imagine if you could spend most of your time developing and playing at something that makes you happy, where time flies and where it's easy for you. Wow!

Now, let's take a look at your enterprise or job from a different perspective. What can you do to make your time at work more enjoyable? Here are a few ideas to try.

One of the ways to make work more fun is contests. You could be the only contestant or you may include a few others. The object of the contest is to strive for a small, obtainable goal each day, and then get a prize for achieving it. Examples: Book three sales appointments today and you win a half-hour in the park. Find two new ways to reduce expenses and you win your favorite dinner. Follow up with five customers and win a "no working" Saturday.

You get the idea. Just set a few interesting targets that, just by pursuing them, make your business better. Couple that with some simple rewards for yourself that make the game fun. Go on. Have a little fun.

Another idea is to acknowledge and encourage laughter. In many offices, the absence of laughter is like a wet blanket over the team. You can even get your clients in the act. Look for opportunities for a little chuckle when you're talking with your clients. They appreciate happiness too. And they'll start to realize that you're a real person, just like themselves.

Being in the right job or business, and having a good time while you're there will lead to increased productivity, more satisfaction and less stress.

Measuring your success in this endeavor is easy. If it feels like work, you're doing it wrong.

About Gary Lockwood
Gary Lockwood is increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.
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E-mail: Gary@BizSuccess.com
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