Here’s what happens when you make time for play every single day

Jackie Colburn
3 min readMar 14, 2023

If data shows that having fun is critical to our health and wellbeing — and it does — why do we often relegate it to weekends, special occasions and sporadic occurrences?

Maybe it’s because play time is in constant competition with productivity? Or because we’re so overscheduled we forget to prioritize it? Or maybe it’s because we feel like it’s something to be earned only after we’ve worked ourselves to the bone?

It’s time to flip the script on having fun. Here’s why you should make more time for play, along with three easy steps for putting intention into action. I promise the benefits will ripple across the different areas of your personal and professional life.

But first, why is play controversial?

Because we live in a culture that promotes efficiency, profitability and output, we tend to directly tie those attributes to our self-worth. Fun and play, then, begin to look frivolous, or like luxuries that we only deserve to enjoy when we’ve earned them.

It’s important to note that having fun is different and distinct from resting and recovering. The former ignites and excites, while the latter grounds and restores. Both are extremely important, they just serve different purposes.

So, why does play matter?

Fun/play are essential to building a healthier outlook on life and should be baked into our daily routines.

Science has shown that periods of play can help us relieve stress, boost creativity, feel more connected to others, and improve our energy levels* — who doesn’t want more of that?!

When we create space to have fun and be playful, we’re better able to stumble across new ideas, make spontaneous connections, and fuel creativity.

In other words, we need play to have a fulfilled, enriched and meaningful existence.

Here’s how you can make time for play in your life:

  1. First, figure out what energizes you.This will look different for everyone. Sometimes fun means solo play, while other times it means group or partnered activities. Get clear on what floats your boat, put it in writing, then proceed to step two.
  2. This next part will require some honesty. Are you the kind of person who needs to schedule something or add it to a list in order for it to happen? Do you operate better with more fluidity and flexibility? Decide what your style is, then make a plan for folding it into your daily life. I am a planner and, for me, fun is reading a good book, but if I don’t block my calendar for an hour here or there to crack it open, it probably won’t happen. Scheduling fun into my calendar helps me stay accountable to play time and elevates it to the same level of importance as work time, meetings, errands, etc. But if your style is more fluid, then maybe you need to do as my friend Carly states and “put down the chef’s knife, leave the dishes, and play with your kid on the floor for 10 minutes a day.” This will make play more like a thread woven throughout your day rather than a scheduled activity.
  3. Don’t confuse play time with productivity time! Separating the two will require a mindset shift, but the truth is that if you’re constantly in work mode (or making everything about productivity), you are missing out on opportunities to spark different parts of your brain. We need to engage in fun in order to show up to other areas of our lives — including work — more wholly.

When we find ways to play — whether it’s a mindset, something that gets woven throughout the day, or something we schedule — it brings our lives more into balance.

It’s also key to remember that we don’t need to earn our fun. In fact, we should be having fun in spite of navigating the hard, tender parts of life, even when it seems contradictory or unimportant. I can promise you, it’s not.

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Jackie Colburn

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