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Work Less, Live More

own advice

Play before work

We all know you should do the work first and play later. I’m going to suggest you do exactly the opposite.

You spend a large portion of time talking to clients about life not being a dress rehearsal. Are you listening to your own advice? The time to do all the things you want to do is now.

Do you have any friends or family that have suffered from a dramatic change in their state of health? These events always come as a shock and remind all of us to make sure we live our lives as fully as possible while we are able. No one is immune from the randomness of serious illness.

A different approach

When you plan your week, try putting all the fun stuff in first:

  1. Your visits to the gym

  2. Any days off or holidays

  3. Time with the kids

  4. A long lunch with your spouse or partner

  5. Going surfing or skiing, or anything else that you love

Then you can use whatever’s left for work time.

I know that might sound radical; it’s meant to.

It takes courage to do this. Don’t let fear keep you stuck. Try this for three weeks and see how it makes you feel.

I know it seems counter intuitive. So, why does it work?

Benefit 1: It’s the fun stuff that fills you up. Then you’ve got something to give; to your clients, your business, your team, your family and friends.

Benefit 2: Less time for work forces you to prioritise. If you allow 10 hours per day for work, you’ll fill it. If you allow 3 hours per day for work, you’ll only do the stuff that matters.

Benefit 3: This is a powerful way to improve your delegation skills too. I speak with clients all the time about “only doing what only you can do”. Yet they still struggle to let go of the inconsequential and focus on the high-value stuff.

A radical change of approach works far better when you’re trying to shake up the way you’ve always done things, which is why I recommend the fun-first method. Small incremental changes often mean you just end up reverting to what you’ve always done.

Let’s say you get it wrong and you go just a little bit too far with the play; meaning the work doesn’t get done. What do you do?


You can always scale the fun back a bit to find the right balance. However, doing it the other way around (where you try to scale back your work hours) is much harder.


My Story

I recently wrote a blog called 5 Steps To Uncovering Your Big Dreams which was published on 12th January 2016. I’d planned to write it before Christmas as part of my editorial calendar schedule, which we plan up to three months ahead.

However, at the allotted time I was suffering from end-of-year overload. Christmas was upon us and I’d been pretty busy in the lead up. I was tired, running out of time and about to leave for holidays. So I parked it.

As I mentioned in the postscript to that blog, in January I ended up having a coffee with creator of Behaviour Gap Carl Richards in Park City, Utah (where Carl lives and where I was skiing). It was that conversation with Carl, as well as some other material I’d been exposed to over the break, (the work of author and speaker Danielle Laporte) that provided much of the inspiration for the blog.

I realise now that had I written it at the allotted time, I would have had nothing to say, or I would have just ground it out (which is crap for you to read and doesn’t enhance our brand or trustworthiness). The grind-it-out approach would have taken hours and depleted my already flagging reserves of creativity.

As it turned out I felt I published something of much greater value.

I’ve discussed the issue of business owners taking time to fill the creative well in a previous blog (Filling The Well). By putting the fun in first you stand a far greater chance of keeping your well filled to brimming, which is what it takes if you want your work to be fulfilling and your business to remain innovative.

If you’re finding your work life is getting a little repetitive or stale then try putting the fun in your diary first. It’s mind blowing.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller


Tweet: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop & look around for a while you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller @brettdavidson
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