How To Carpe The Hell Out Of Your Diem: Work or Play?

The other day I feel asleep while read­ing the book, Get­ting Things Done by David Allen. This book has been on my read­ing list for a while now because it kept pop­ping up in other productivity-related arti­cles I read.  After a cou­ple days of not being able to com­plete my to-do list last week, I was feel­ing irri­tated and decided it was time to crack this book open.   I can be a bit obssessive-compulsive about get­ting work done, but it quickly back­fires if I don’t take time out to chill and do things just for fun.

I often have this nag­ging feel­ing that I’m wast­ing my time in school.  I read sto­ries about young entre­pre­neurs who started and grew their own busi­nesses while in uni­ver­sity, or even high­school and I feel like I am falling behind with each pass­ing day.

As an exchange stu­dent and incu­bat­ing entre­pre­neur, I am in a weird posi­tion now.  Many peo­ple claim that exchange was “the best time of their lives,” allud­ing to the par­ties, beaches, travel and lack of school­work. Exchange stu­dents around me are plan­ning trips to nearby south­east Asian coun­tries and explor­ing all of the attrac­tions in the city.  Part of me feels that I like rather be work­ing towards build­ing my career and my “pur­pose work”. The other part of me feels like I should just join the care­free exchange stu­dents.  I am in my final semes­ter after all and if what those peo­ple say is true, I should be mak­ing the most of the free­dom I have now.

The prob­lem with try­ing to carve my own path is that my work­load never ends.  Every­thing that I dis­cover becomes one more task I could do grow my busi­ness or improve my life.  I’ve learned that I can’t just work, work, work or I’ll burn out.    Instead, as long as I always have my end goal in mind, I can keep chip­ping away at the project and have fun sometimes.

I’m still fig­ur­ing it out as I go but this is how I have learned to cher­ish life while also build­ing a web­site that will gen­uinely help people.

Five Ways To Bal­ance Play And Purpose

 1. Trust that the process is a nec­es­sary part of your jour­ney. 
I’m learn­ing to take it all in stride.  I can’t rush growth.  I can only read books, learn code or write blog posts so fast.  I believe that that big­ger oppor­tu­ni­ties will arise when I am ready.  If I feel over­whelmed now, then it means I’m not ready.  Feel­ing over­whelmed is a sign that I need to learn to man­age stress bet­ter.   This is all part of the process of cre­at­ing some­thing big­ger than me and my job is to learn how to man­age it, not rush it.

 2. Sched­ule your breaks in to give you even more pur­pose. 
I recently booked a trip to Thai­land for next week­end, as birth­day present to myself. It made me more moti­vated to work on my per­sonal project this week­end so that I have per­mis­sion to chill out on my trip.  Now I do not need to have that inner bat­tle to decide whether I should be play­ing or working.

 3. Use dead­lines with com­pas­sion. 
I’m learn­ing that it’s okay if I miss my per­sonal dead­lines.  If enforc­ing self-imposed dead­line makes me incred­i­bly angry and upset, then its self-defeating.  I’m bet­ter off being a day or two late and being in a good mood for those two days.  My dead­lines are now more like guide­lines.  I know that they keep me on track in the long term, but they’re flex­i­ble enough that I can make room for life in the short term too.

 4. When in doubt, do what makes you happy first.
I don’t believe in work-life bal­ance.  I just believe in doing what brings joy into my life. When I’m happy, I can be “in the zone” and I do my work with ease and effi­ciency.  I enjoy the process. I firmly that if I don’t have fun doing some­thing, then it’s not worth doing.

Its about keep­ing my inner com­pass aligned with my work.  I wont be doing any­one any good if I’m unhappy, cranky, even if I’m design­ing a cam­paign a social impact cam­paign for a non­profit.  I try to make deci­sion based on what makes me happy.  Some­times thats sit­ting down if only for 20 min­utes to hash some­thing out. Some­times its leav­ing work alto­gether and doing some yoga.  I know that if I fol­low my heart, even­tu­ally it will work out.

 5. Find ways to have fun that also con­tribute to your work! 
I recently joined HUB Sin­ga­pore (more on that com­ing soon!) and through that, I’ve found peo­ple who are work­ing in the social enter­prise space and who also like to do things I enjoy like watch­ing doc­u­men­taries, yoga, mas­sage, etc. While I’m not exactly play­ing and work­ing at the same time, I can indulge in my hob­bies guilt-free this way because I know I am at least con­nect­ing with peo­ple who might become col­leagues in the future.

I would to hear your thoughts and expe­ri­ences on bal­anc­ing play and pur­pose in the com­ments below!

With Love,

Anita