There are 1,000 things on your to-do list, but is fun one of them?

By Christine Lellis

Odds are, you spend a ton of time focused on your responsibilities, and fun happens “if you have time.”

Scheduling fun sounds a little counterintuitive, (like when experts say to schedule sex). But, it turns out, those experts are onto something so I decided to challenge myself to schedule fun every day for a week.

Here’s what happened…

Sunday: I whip out my Google calendar and pick the most fun-looking bright turquoise I can find. I contemplate leaving “Fun” off my shared calendar so my husband won’t think I’ve lost my mind, but I figure he has a good enough idea of that already, so I leave it on. I pencil in a date with my cousin on Friday to see her new apartment and grab lunch, but the other days are still empty. I simply title them “Fun” for lack of a better idea.

I get a slightly queasy feeling in my stomach, picturing all the things I need to get done for my brand new business pilling up while I paint my toenails.

But there’s a bigger fear: What will I do? And…have I forgotten how to have fun?

Laying in bed that night, I make a list of things I might do for fun:

  • Read a (non-business related) book
  • Paint my nails
  • Get my hair done
  • Go shopping
  • Take a nap
  • Get lunch with a friend
  • Get dressed up and go out for drinks
  • Stay in bed
  • Go to the pool
  • Watch my shows on Netflix (while not multi-tasking)
  • Plan a vacation
  • Call a friend

Monday: Before work, I book a much-needed hair appointment for Saturday and make lunch plans for Wednesday. At lunch, I pick some flowers for the coffee table and read a magazine out in the sun. I find that, for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to ask myself, “Would this be fun? What would I like to do?”

Tuesday: I lay in bed trying to decide what I’ll do for fun today. My plans to lay by the pool are a bust since it’s raining, so I’ll have to think of something else. While making breakfast, I decide that I could probably add more fun to other parts of my day too, besides the “scheduled” time. I make two pieces of my favorite cinnamon toast, put them on a china plate, and have breakfast looking out the window watching the rain.
Then I rework my calendar to fit in time for getting ready, fun breaks, and even a workout. I notice two things: how many hours I’m actually working (18, on average), and how little fun I was having before the challenge. So I spend half an hour showering (and singing in the shower), blow-drying my hair (a luxury I rarely afford myself) and doing my makeup (lipstick included). I have no plans to go anywhere but I feel fabulous. By 4PM, I have ninjaed my to-do list.

Is it possible that having fun actually makes me more productive?

Wednesday: I am loving my new “fun” schedule. I finish twice as much work as usual, even though I take time to read a magazine while I eat breakfast on the patio. I blare the radio in my car while driving to lunch, and spend almost two hours relaxing with my girlfriends. I notice that I am more tuned in to our conversation, instead of worrying about checking my work email or getting back to my to-do list.

Thursday: I take a break from work to help my best friend set up her new classroom. We laugh until we cry. I have some late night work to do when I get home, but it’s well worth it. (Oddly, I get two new clients while I’m away from my computer. Maybe I’m on to something.)

Friday: I crank out an interview and an article and schedule a few appointments before heading out to see my cousin’s new apartment. I’m feeling a little guilty for working so little the last few days, but I’ve been so productive that I’m getting everything on my to-do list done. I decide to let the feeling pass and enjoy my day. My husband gets home after being gone for almost three weeks, so we celebrate with a long, leisurely dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant. I throw on heels and red lipstick to up the fun factor…

Saturday: Off to the salon! I’ve had the same long layered cut for years, but my stylist (apparently sensing my new mission) says, “You should change it up.” In the spirit of the challenge, I agree. She chops off 6 inches and I walk out feeling like a new, hot (and more fun) version of myself. Later that night, the hubby and I hit our favorite bar for a few Margaritas.

Sunday: I squeeze in some work first thing in the morning and then we spend the day lounging by the pool. My husband makes the most amazing lasagna, and we relax on the couch for the rest of the night. I go to bed feeling ridiculously happy.

The Verdict: Somehow, miraculously, everything on my to-do list has still gotten done. I’ve gotten twice as much work done in half the time, and even fit in time for workouts and cooking delicious meals. Sure, there’s laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded. But I’ve been a better wife, a better friend, and been a lot more sane.

I think it’s worth the trade.

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