The words “work” and “fun” shouldn’t be antithetical. But for so many people, they are.
“It is so important to have fun at work,” says Laura Brounstein, the special projects director for Cosmopolitan magazine, who is currently planning Cosmo’s 2014 “Fun Fearless Life Weekend” event. “Anything you enjoy, you’re naturally going to do a better job with and give more of yourself to, so making your job something you look forward to, rather than simply a responsibility, is essential.”
She says if you’re lucky enough to find something you’re good at and love doing, you’re less likely to think of it as “just work.”
“The successful men and women I get to talk to as part of my job have in common that they enjoy what they do,” she explains. “That’s not to say every day is a load of laughs from beginning to end, but that they derive enough happiness and satisfaction from their roles overall to see them through the tougher moments. If you enjoy what you do, even the longest days don’t seem so rough.”
Brounstein says Spanx creator Sara Blakely, model Chrissy Teigen, and singer Kelly Osbourne are just three of the successful women who will be speaking at the “Fun Fearless Life Weekend” event at Lincoln Center in New York City this November. One thing they may touch on: “the fact that having fun and kicking arse at work are not mutually exclusive.”
“The more connected and engaged you feel by what you do, the more fun you’ll have doing it,” she adds. “With help from our amazing partners, like Maybelline New York and Express, I think anyone who attends the event will leave feeling more equipped to do this.”
Brounstein shared with Business Insider eight tips for making work more fun.
1. Create “happiness-boosting traditions” with your coworkers.
This can be anything, really.
“I admit, one of my vices is my afternoon Diet Coke,” Brounstein says. “I know some of my friends at the office share this, so every once in a while, when we’re hitting the vending machine, we buy an extra and gift it to each other. Few things make me smile more after an annoying meeting than coming back to my desk and finding a frosty, delicious Diet Coke there with a note from one of them.”
2. Take a few minutes every day to get up and walk around.
“Even when you’re crazed, taking a few minutes to get up and out of your chair clears your mind and makes you more ready for the next task. And, it’s been proven to boost creativity,” she says.
If you can get out of the office for a bit, that’s even better. “When my colleague Sara and I have something complicated to discuss, often one of us will suggest taking a walk to Starbucks to talk about it. The hit of fresh air, the promise of caffeinated goodness, and a foray with a friend make any conversation more palatable.”
3. Make your workspace a place you enjoy being.
Decorate your office or cube. “Why not stick a picture from a recent vacation on your cube’s walls or put a memento on your desk? A friend brought me back a gorgeous faux Faberge egg from a trip to Russia that I keep on my desk and every time I see it, I smile,” she says.
Another suggestion: keep any cards, thank-you notes, and emails from coworkers or clients that made you smile, and pin them to a cork board or wall of your cube.
“A friend’s excited response when the interview our Executive Editor Leslie Yazel and I did with Jill Abramson went live always reminds me that I like what I do and my friends appreciate it,” she says.
Work doesn’t have to be all business, all the time.
Of course you need to maintain your professionalism — but that doesn’t mean you can’t crack a smile (or a joke). When you smile and laugh, others around you will do the same (it’s contagious!) and your office will be an all-around happier place to be.
“My podmate, Katie, and I spend the day sharing with each other anything we’re reading or seeing that’s funny,” Brounstein says. “We have a good sense of when the other is too deep in concentration to be bothered, but otherwise, hearing something she got a kick out of makes my day brighter.”
5. Compliment someone every day.
When a coworker tells you they liked the idea you pitched in the morning meeting, or the new painting you put up in your office, it makes you feel good. So, you should do the same to others.
You’ll actually feel just as good giving the compliment as you do receiving it.
6. Check in with your colleagues and your network.
Walking over to a coworker’s desk to “check in” or sending out emails to friends just to say “hi” and ask how they’re doing can brighten up your day significantly.
7. Be appreciative.
“One of the women I work with, Diandra, is always willing to go the extra step, and I try to let her know how meaningful that is,” says Brounstein. “And she does the same, which makes any workday better.”
8. Create or join an office team or club.
If your company has a softball team or a baking club, join. It’s not only a great way to bond with your coworkers, but it will give you something to look forward to, and something to talk about with your peers at work.
If your company doesn’t have any teams or clubs, look into creating one.
“Work is not always going to be too fun,” Brounstein says. “But if you’re conscientious and keep responsibilities and deadlines top of mind, any fun you can infuse into your day is only going to make you more productive and engaged by what you’re doing.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.