How to Work – and Play – Smart

How to Work - and Play - Smart

In my previous posts, I talked about establishing professional relationships (“We care.”) and embracing change (“We learn.”) as two of the declarative statements that we implemented at NueHealth. The third declarative statement we incorporated into our corporate DNA is, “We have fun.” At the core of that statement is the idea that “we think hard but work smart and play a lot.” This can sound odd at first, because we don’t usually associate having fun with thinking hard or working smart.

However, I believe that for any preferential work you’re doing (for example, if you work in one industry but could just as easily work in another), you should be able to honestly say that you really enjoy what you’re doing. If you can’t, because you don’t really enjoy it, then you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to do something else. When you really enjoy your work, you’re already on the road to having fun.

The key to both working smart and playing a lot is to integrate various elements of life together. As Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Life is one indivisible whole.” That’s true of “good” and “bad,” but it’s also true of “work” and “play.” If all you do is work, you have no time for play.

I’ve never been impressed by people who brag about the long hours they’re working and the things they’ve missed out on. People don’t expect to hear that from a CEO with multiple businesses, but it’s true. What impresses me isn’t someone who works hard for 60-70 hours a week, but someone who thinks hard and then is able to worksmart. Here’s an example. Imagine someone was planning to miss their son’s soccer game to work late. That doesn’t benefit the employee, who misses an important event and is probably working at a less than optimal level because of the emotional toll. it doesn’t benefit the employee’s family. Lastly, it doesn’t benefit the company, because the employee will be delivering at a sub-optimal level and will burn out over time. Instead, I would advise the employee to go to the soccer game. Be engaged, be completely present and there for your child and for your family, but maybe when your son’s not playing, maybe you can devote a few minutes to thinking really hard about a challenge or a problem at work that needs a solution, or a process improvement that would help you or your department deliver better work.

People say, “Oh, I’m so busy, I don’t have any time.” The next time you have that knee-jerk reaction, think about how many hours you spent watching TV? I often bring up TV because it is the anti-innovation activity. No one, to my knowledge, has ever had a great insight or a lightbulb idea while watching TV. Instead, consider engaging in an activity that allows you to relax while also creating opportunities for you to think hard: reading, exercising, even cooking. Anything that involves repetitive tasks will free up your mind for “hard thinking sprints” can actually leverage your time in a great way.