Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber’s book The Art of Time details how people today get more done, but with less satisfaction. He and others note how we confuse quantity of things done with quality of experience enjoyed. He writes, “We now tend to simply do nothing thoroughly, we just try to do more of it.”
In my career as a Scenic Designer and Painter in the theatre for 25 years, I worked hard and I played hard, but it there was no real balance. It was one or the other and in binge doses at that. I loved every minute of it, but that kind of living takes its toll. Upon retiring I was ready to practice the art of relaxation and enjoy more satisfying “play” time. However, after years of fast-forward days, weeks and months that always seemed to be speeding out of control, I found I had forgotten how to unwind at a normal pace.
Eventually, we arrive at the point where we lose the ability to concentrate, and as a result, unable to enjoy slower personal moments. Many experts believe that until we become more aware of the pace at which we live, we will never be able to slow down and control our natural rhythms.
Before I decided to resume working, I first had to ask myself some questions, as I did not want the new work to consume me in the way my first career did. I needed to be sure I could run down the path following my heart without compromising the work values in my head, so I did a work/play assessment with the following questions:
- How did I differentiate work from play?
- What constitutes play in my life?
- Does my current breakdown of work and play support a happy, healthy, and balanced life?
- Would I benefit from more play and less work?
I was determined to combine the things I desired in my leisure time into the work I would be doing. Gardening and growing food, creating with my own hands and traveling to find new experiences, people and traditions are all woven into my work as a Maker of artisan bath and body products. I believe I have achieved a fairly balanced life today. I have managed to channel play into my work and work into my play, and that is a huge difference in what my day can be. A good part of my balance is that I love my job. I would hope so, as I shaped it.
The way we use our time is most often an expression of our innermost values. Once we determine how not to abuse our work/play time, we can then use our “free time” more purposely and in a much more fulfilling way. We can improve the quality of our free moments by choosing to spend them in ways that more closely align with our passions and true nature.
If you find your joy, health, or relationships compromised, it might be time to explore your work to play ratio too, and to inject more play into your life.