Sitting across from a business mentor, who I’d met for the first time only an hour ago, I heard myself saying the words out loud, ‘we schedule fun’. Pause while I put my head in my hands.
Now, I’m not sure if it was the look on his face or simply saying the words out loud that made me realise how ludicrous this is. We’ve always been quite proud of ourselves that we have fun as a point on our board agenda and make sure that we make time to discuss what we are going to do outside of the office that is fun. I’m sure that we’ve all privately patted ourselves on the back for being such a fun company!
In that nano second, facing a stranger, I don’t think I’ve ever said anything stranger! Our last scheduled fun was a trip to the cinema to see Bohemian Rhapsody which quite frankly had me in tears for much of the two hours, fun, nope, it was away from the office time with my two business partners (who also happen to be my good friends), but to say it was fun would be a real stretch.
The reality is that you can’t force fun, just like you can’t force creativity or innovation. We have fun whenever we are together, we laugh a lot as we talk through the challenges we are facing in our personal and business lives, we help each other put things in perspective and that just happens – it’s not scheduled.
We book away days with agendas that are so cram packed full that we struggle to get through them all. Our business mentor shared details of the away days he and his two business partners would have, where they took a day out, without an agenda, strolled around a city, found a games arcade, played, had fun and talked. They talked about the business, where it was going and what they wanted to do next. This was not structured, it didn’t follow an agenda, they just talked.
As I sat with my head in my hands laughing at how ridiculous our scheduled fun sounded I realised that what we needed to schedule was time. Our away days need to be just that, time that we spend together talking about the business, plans, thoughts, aspirations and challenges. The agenda items need to find their way back onto the board meeting or a business development meeting, not be stifling our away days.
So next month we have a day, we don’t have an agenda, and there is no fun scheduled, we will just be and I’m hopeful that we’ll all get a lot out of it.
I’ve done a bit of research and while there are scientific studies telling us why we shouldn’t schedule fun, there are also many features on why scheduling fun can be good for you. A piece in the Washington Post states that when something like fun becomes part of our to do list it becomes less enjoyable (I am paraphrasing here) but I have to say I agree.
So, for now, I’m off to remove fun from my online calendar and hopefully that will free me up to have more fun!