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Put FUN on your to-do list

As a kid, just before the summer holiday, my dad asked me: “Okay, son, so what’s on your to-do list for the coming months?” All I wanted was to have fun. But how do you put fun on your to-do list?

To-do list – check

If you’ve been programmed to live for checking items off of your to-do list, then the following may be familiar to you.

As a freelancer, after working on consecutive Saturdays and sometimes throughout the nights, one Monday afternoon at 2 pm when just finished with a task, looking at my fully checked to-do list, I found myself saying: “Okay, what’s next?”

When I thought of “next”, no fun, relaxing activity came to mind as an option. I didn’t feel that I could just read a book, or watch a movie. I needed to find something useful to do.

Here is what I thought

Everyone else is working. Why should I relax? What would I say, when my mom calls?

“Hi, Honey, I hope I don’t interrupt you while working.”

Do I have the permission to tell my mom in the middle of the workday, “No problem, ma, I’m just chilling in the pool”?

I just felt that I was supposed to use my time wisely and put effort into going forward. That was the way I was programmed.

What’s worth to be on my to-do list?

Without a boss’ explicit control on my time and location, I kept telling myself that I had to be efficient, I had to be useful.

In order to achieve that, I created to-do lists that I could keep myself to.

In my mind, this list had to have items on it that had strict connection to me achieving my career goals.

Reading a public speaking book, helped me to get more knowledge in my field – Got on the list.
Going to networking events helped me to get clients – Got on the list.
Doing Budapest Toastmasters Presidency helped me to become a better leader – Got on the list.

Going for the movies? Playing the guitar? Spending time with friends or family? Having FUN? – I didn’t see them helping me to get more efficient. I didn’t put fun on my to-do list. Actually, neither of them made it to the list.

Admire of the list still persists

Though I’m writing this in past tense, I still have my to-do list fetish. I always need to find some connection between what I put on my to-do list and what good it does for me in the long run.

But there has been one major change:

Family

After a couple of dates with a girl, one Wednesday we sat down on the porch of a restaurant on the bank of the river Danube. It was a warm summer evening with the sun shining with that beautiful orange light just before it goes down. We had a pizza and a lemonade.

There and then it dawned on me: every time we went out together, no matter what day of the week it was, weekday, or weekend, it felt as if we had been on holiday. Relaxing, charging. Just what you want from a holiday, just what I would call fun. Something that makes you more excited about the challenges to come.

I came to my conclusion

Beyond dating with her more, I was wise enough to finally propose to her and we got married. Today we have a beautiful daughter and we are a happy family of three.

I learned that the best way to get relaxed and excited about work and career is to spend some relaxing time with my family first. No guilt, no social media, no cell phones, only walking, playing, watching movies, having fun.

Put FUN on your to-do list

Today, I’m still not over my programming. It still gives me a hard time, when weekend work pushes me to relax during weekdays, but I invented my ultimate trick.

I made my family also an item on my to-do list.

No matter how much I get caught up with all the tasks, I have to do, I inevitably get to my “family” item on my to-do list. Then I let go all the emails that have to be written or all the calls that have to be made and all I do is enjoy the time being spent with my wife and kid.

The actual trick here is that the “Family” item is also rationalized as a way to relax and hence boost productivity for my coming challenges.

This is the way for me to have fun, without the guilt.

What about you?

What is your desired activity? The one you always wanted to do, but never “found” the time for it.
Would my trick work for you too?

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