I’d Get Nothing Done If Productivity Wasn’t So Much Fun

Productivity and fun are not mutually exclusive

If there’s no fun involved, please count me out.

I insist on taking my inner child with me wherever I go. We come as a package deal.

Playing dominoes, cards, and board games, outdoor activities like hopscotch, roller skating, and bicycle riding, and creative art projects with paint, clay, and crayons were the lifeline to fun when I was a kid.

Then there was swimming in the icy cold Allegheny River — which tempered me in steel and boosted my immunity to all things bug-ish and bacteria. (Heaven only knows the germs lurking in that river!) But, hey, it worked.

Jumping off the dock was pretty scary but it was also a thrill. Oh, you didn’t know introverts are some of the biggest thrill seekers? Yep. It’s true.

Saturday mornings as a kid meant ONE thing: Cartoons. Yippee! And then weekend household chores to follow. Ugh. Boo.

Here’s the thing:

At about age 7, I learned to kill two birds with one stone. Marrying chores with fun was the goal.

I dusted and polished all the furniture, knickknacks, window sills, and baseboards in my parents’ living room while watching my favorite cartoons. (Plus I made a habit of lifting the couch cushions during episodes of the Road Runner or Mr. Magoo, which usually awarded me a nickel or dime and sometimes even a quarter in tips.)

Once I entered adulthood, nothing much changed. I remained steadfast in my goal to find ways to accomplish tasks while making sure I’m having a good time.

Come to my house on a Saturday morning and you’ll hear music playing before you reach the front door. Is there a party going on? Nope. Clean sheets are going on the beds.

Wondering how I put the Productivity + Fun duo to work in my business?

When I’m writing: I sit down and settle in to enjoy the background sounds of a thunder storm. (I LOVE the rain.)

When I need to edit blog images: I play around with PicMonkey, Canva, iPiccy, or Pablo. Playing is important, y’know. It’s the perfect companion to working your butt off.

When I’m listening to marketing podcasts: I write poetry. You can find some of my poems in the comment boxes at Web.Search.Social. They’ve awarded me the esteemed designation of Poet Laureate.

When I want to develop an idea: I’ll always be a kid at heart. I doodle it out with crayons, pencils, or colored markers. Or I wordle it out. Right now I’m developing an idea for a blog post about how and where I spend my time online (and probably “why”).

Here’s how I’ve wordled out my idea:

wordle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the morning coffee is brewing: I do a six-minute exercise workout. Yes, it’s fun and it doesn’t involve weights, machinery, or pain. I’ve discovered pain and productivity don’t play nicely together. Just ask Tea Silvestre Godfrey to share her broken ankle adventure. She’ll back me up on that.

Where do you go from here?

I’m giving my highest recommendation to this stop.

Being wicked productive doesn’t have to come at the cost of fun. Joy can be had when you’re at your most efficient. Each month, a group of wickedly smart business owners come together for the Word Carnival to discuss a business topic, this month – we’re covering Fun and Productivity, and how both can exist, side-by-side.

  • love your writing..great job

  • Melanie I love how the inner child is part of the package for you. I love spending time with me daughter (who’s six) and being silly. Playing pretend. Creating works of art. That joy of life is a wonderful, amazing thing to bring everywhere.

    • Yeah, daughters are pretty cool sources (and wellsprings!) of inspiration, creativity, playfulness, and just plain fun.

      I say reach for the “silly” in life and not just the “serious”! Your heart will thank you … and so will your business. 🙂

      Thanks a bunch for chiming in!

  • I play a mean air guitar and dance as if no one’s watching while vacuuming. 😉 One of my favorite fun things for a shot of creativity is making up stories at the word prompt site, Creative Copy Challenge. 🙂

    • My curiosity is now piqued to the max, Cathy! If you know me at all, you’d know my next stop is Creative Copy Challenge. 😉 You’re talkin’ my kind of fun!

      There’s no doubt in my mind you play a mean air guitar. LOL! On that note, guess what I’m doing? I’m learning to play the bass guitar. I might be an old fart but it’s never too late to learn something new.

  • Thank you, Sandy! Truth be told, I’d much rather reach for the joystick in life than jump into job stuff. But when you can find a way to join the two, you’ve got it made in the shade! 🙂

    Thank you for dropping in! And many congrats, again, on the birth of your grandson. 🙂

  • Howdy Melanie!

    Great advice; I like the 6-minute workout while the coffee is brewing. I’ve started going on my exercise bike while on conference calls with judicious use of the mute button. I also go on long walks while taking phone calls, esp. ones that don’t require me to be in front of the computer. The phone is the devil to me, and I absolutely hate it. I’d just as soon throw the damn thing out, but everybody seems to love to talk on the phone – and nobody seems to know how to be concise in an email. So whatever. You gotta have it.

    I’m with you on the noise of the rain; I’ve actually started writing using dictation on some things because I like the sound and pace of my own sentences, and I can get a bit more clever that way. But when I do have my headphones in and need to focus on something rain is the best. There’s actually a noise-generator website out there that has a full thunderstorm as a noise option. Best writing tool ever.

    • Man, do I see myself in you, Nick! Two peas in a pod. Make that two I-N-T-R-O-V-E-R-T peas in a pod. LOL!

      I really, really, REALLY dislike the phone. Sure, I call my mom on it and my daughters. But for business? Give me email any day of the week!

      Love how you blend exercise with getting stuff done. And rain through the headphones is heavenly. It always takes me back to my childhood days in Pennsylvania. We had the BEST thunderstorms ever. 🙂 Gotta check out that noise-generator site. Sounds like my cup of tea.

      Thanks for swinging by!

      • I’ve *never* liked talking on the phone. It’s seriously a sense of dread every time it rings. The only person I’ll allow long calls with is Stacy (my wife). This is doubly true if I’m pinned somewhere while talking – back in the day of landlines, you couldn’t get me to stay on the phone for more than 2 minutes. With cell phones now, it’s gotten a bit better (cuz I can walk around) but even so…

        • “The phone is the devil.” 😉 But if you can put the devil to work by helping you to stay fit, that’s a win in my (phone) book.

  • Katherine Kotaw

    Hi Melanie! First off, in case you didn’t see my comment on Twitter, I want to thank you for requesting that I be a guest on @carollynnrivera:disqus and Ralph’s Web Search Social podcast! I had a blast this week recording my episode… and it’s thanks to Carol Lynn that I found this wonderful blog of yours! Which makes me happy because I’m honored to be included in this incredible group of support!

    I LOVE that you write poetry when you listen to podcasts and that making life FUN is just so intrinsically who you are. This blog made me SO HAPPY and that’s your power as a writer and as a person — you exude so much joy that it’s contagious!

    Too many people grow up and stop seeing the fun, stop playing games and start deciding they should be “corporate” and cease to show any personality. Which is not only bad for your brand, but bad for your life!

    My grown daughters — and business partners! — and I still make arts and crafts together just like we did when they were children. We still have “storybook time” when they ask me to read their favorite storybooks to them. I’m extremely lucky to have daughters who are my best friends AND business partners. So we work together, then take breaks to watch our favorite shows or movies, then take our pups on long adventures together and then have fun working some more! I think it’s SO IMPORTANT to find JOY in everything you do. That’s why have incorporated Mary Poppins into our KOTAW Brand because, like you, we wholeheartedly believe that “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”

    I wish you could see my typing this to you! I get SO GIDDY when I find a blog that speaks to me and your blogs always do SO MUCH and I can’t thank you enough for that! There’s so much dreadful content out there that I become so happy when I read something like this. And you never disappoint!

    HERE HERE to fun and to writing blogs that exude giddiness! Like Carol Lynn, I want to go pull my crayons out of our craft box and start coloring!!!

    • Katherine, If someone doesn’t soon figure out how to clone you, I’m going to have to do it myself! You ALWAYS make my day. 🙂

      I. CAN’T. WAIT. to hear your podcast interview on Web.Search.Social!!! And I can predict (with 100% accuracy) there will be many elements of fun! Ralph and Carol Lynn really have a good thing goin’ on over there. Seriously good. I don’t have a lot of time to spend listening to podcasts (although I wish I did) but I won’t miss theirs. It’s perpetually on my must-listen list. Talk about feeling “giddy” … I’m giddy in anticipation of your appearance on their show! Hip, hip, hooray! <3

      I think it's absolutely wonderful you and your beautiful (and creative) daughters maintain your childhood spirits. Katherine, so few adults do and that's a sad shame. YOU know better than most that life can be rough. The kind of rough you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Playing, drawing, singing and dancing around the room, and anything that uplifts you or makes you feel like a kid again is just plain GOOD FOR THE SOUL!

      True [Twitter] confession: So sorry I missed your Tweet BUT I'm sure I'll catch it soon. I don't spend nearly as much time in my Twitter stream as I used to. However, I'm emailed notifications with @mentions — that I sometimes don't catch for days later. My apologies for not being timely with yours. Someone should spank me with a wet noodle! (Do you remember saying that as a child?) LOL!

      Consider you, me, and Carol Lynn the "CRAYON CREW"! 😉

      Myriad thanks for catching my post, Katherine, and thank you for being YOU. xoxoxoxo

  • I’m not sure you could do anything without having fun. Some people will read this and think ok, I can incorporate some of these into my routine to up the fun factor…. but you just DO IT. Because you are that kind of positive person. I will say I’m on board with your crayon thing. I love crayons and I don’t think I use them enough! Time to get out the box. When I’m doing house stuff I either watch the Food Network (guilty pleasure) or talk to my mom (usually about food, lol) so that makes it more fun. As for business stuff, if we’re not having fun doing at least SOME of our stuff then we’re in the wrong business! As for the un-fun stuff, well there is always ice cream afterwards.

    • Yes! Ice cream! (Unless you’re like me. Lactose intolerant.) 😉 But there’s always Sorbetto. Yum! Or Mounds candy. Dark chocolate and coconut are my kind of team (and treat). <3

      Have you ever noticed how food always brings friends together? They should call it "frood". LOL!

      Crayons make me happy. I've never been good at drawing (dammit!) but I LOVED coloring books as a kid and I really enjoy doodling. There's no right way or wrong way to doodle, right? I guess that's what I like about it — foolproof, freeing, and fun.

      Know what else is fun? Poetry. (But then you already know that about me.) 🙂

      • Melanie, we need to start a podcast called FROOD! And get together and have fun things to eat while we talk about it 🙂

        • I’m in! (And so is my tummy!) 🙂

          Seriously, that’s a yummy idea. When do we start?

  • Not sure if broken ankles count as “fun” but it’s definitely been an adventure. The making chores fun thing? Priceless. I used to do that, too. Mom wants me and sis to get 10 loads of laundry done? We pretended we owned our own laundry business. Down to creating the invoices for our customers. LOL. I was a big fan of Mary Poppins … sing it with me?

    In every job that must be done
    There is an element of fun
    you find the fun and snap!
    The job’s a game

    And every task you undertake
    Becomes a piece of cake
    A lark! A spree!
    It’s very clear to see…

    • Tea Poppins! I thought you’d never get here. 😉

      I used to dance with the vacuum. Nuf said. LOL!

      Well, your secret’s out! From an early age, you were destined to be in business. If only you had saved some of those invoices from your childhood laundry biz. I’d love to put my eyes on one. I bet they were adorable. I’m guessing some may even have been adorned with artwork. 🙂

      A lark! A spree!
      It’s very clear to see …
      In every job that must be done
      There is an element of fun

      And if there isn’t one — count me out! 🙂

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  • Love the way you blend fun and productivity, Melanie. I enjoy creating cover images, too. It’s great to have work that lets us play.

    • NO joke, Sharon. So many adults I encounter have given up all their childhood ways. Too bad. Because maintaining a fun spirit and finding opportunities to play make life (and business) a lot more tolerable. Thanks for catching my post! 🙂