New Years Resolution - Be more playful

You may ask how, at this time, we can talk about playfulness.

I would argue that now is when we need playfulness more than ever.

Play in a time of trial

2020 has been a hard year and here in the UK it looks as though the beginning of 2021, with covid19 still rife, things are not going back to normal very quickly.

A glance at social media is enough to show just how much fear there is out there. People are worried for their livelihoods, worried for their health and their loved ones. Everybody is fed up of staying in and missing normal social interaction. There are grandparents who’ve never yet held grandchildren, and families who are worried they may not get to hug an elderly relative before it’s too late.

You may ask how, at this time, we can talk about playfulness.

I would argue that now is when we need playfulness more than ever.

How to be more playful in 2021

Playfulness is about finding the joy in the everyday. It’s about allowing creativity to flourish and its about making life more fun for everybody around you.


If it makes you smile – go for it!

If something makes you smile, embrace it. That pink metal flamingo that makes you smile every time you see it on the market stall? Buy it, put it in your garden. It will make you smile every time you look out the window. If you love that purple top or those rainbow knickers – wear them! As the Wiccans say “An it harm none, do what ye will.” Provided what makes you smile doesn’t cause any harm or problem to anybody – go for it! If you love chocolate, even if your other New Year resolution is to be healthy – buy a really high quality chocolate and have a little nibble. The happiness you get from it will more than compensate a few extra calories. Where possible – follow your whims!


Make contact with people

You can absolutely be playful on your own, but humans are social animals. Make plans that involve being playful with others, even if that involves video calls rather than face-to-face interaction.  Set up an online Escape Room or online game or quiz that you can do together. Create a funny family video to send to family. Make plans for the family holiday, get-together or party that you will enjoy when Covid releases its grip on the world.


Work Playfully

Working looks very different for different people – housework, studying, voluntary work, factory work, outdoor work, office work, management, shop work – you name it, we do it. Let’s make our working lives more playful and enjoyable. Whether that’s by singing (think of sea shanties), by incorporating something light-hearted (we all know somebody who likes to wear a different silly hat to each Zoom meeting), by gamifying our work (rewards and “levels”) or by encouraging more creativity in the workplace. We can make our working lives both more productive and more pleasurable by injecting a little playfulness.


Be creative

Creativity is the key to playfulness and I don’t just mean crafting, writing poetry or painting. Creativity  is the use of the imagination and fresh ideas. It can be applied to the dog walk or your daily jog – find a new route, listen to new music, allow yourself a little role-play (you’re a detective looking for clues!). If you’re writing something – rather than just doing it on the computer – can you print it out and draw your own border? We are all very quick to look for things on the internet, to download clipart – we seem to have forgotten the simple pleasure of drawing things ourselves! With cheap fashion, we forget the creative joy that comes with up-cycling or making it ourselves. Let’s make 2021 a more creative year! (On my other blog “Ink Spots and Grass Stains“, I’m going to be charting my creative efforts for 2021.)



Most of us didn’t get many opportunities for adventures in 2020. There was a lot of staying at home to do. Adventure is naturally playful. It takes you out of the ordinary and unlocks your spirit of fun and creativity, problem solving and ingenuity. Adventures don’t have to be high-adrenaline activities (though they can be, and we can’t wait to go coasteering this year!), but can just be doing something different. In our family we revel in the “mini-adventure”. These usually involve Rosie the campervan, but aren’t necessarily camping trips. They usually involve going somewhere new. They may involve a walk or a bike-ride, they may involve a theme park or zoo, they may involve a picnic or a cafe. A mini-adventure could be a train trip to a nearby town, or a ride on a bus to “see where it goes”. Embrace the mini-adventure!


Play games

Games don’t have to involve plastic counters and dice. Playing games makes you feel good, it involves interacting with other people, it unlocks feel-good hormones and can improve brain power. Whether it’s a weekly game of scrabble, a word-game while you wait in line or an observation game with your children – try to get more games into your life. We’ll be adding lots of different games you can play on this site as the year goes by, so watch out for those.

Be more playful

So what will you be doing this year to be more playful?

happy and productive workplace

happy workplace

How playfulness benefits business – creativity

We live in a fast-paced, changing world.  Businesses that are unable to adapt cannot keep up and will not last.  The ability to improvise, to evolve and to find new and better ways of working is key to success.  Playfulness and creativity go hand-in-hand, so to encourage creativity in your workplace, you need to encourage a sort of playfulness and develop a happy workplace.

Some of the most amazing businesses and inventions have developed from play.  Play-doh, for example, was originally a compound designed for cleaning wallpaper designed by Noah McVicker.  Noah’s nephew heard his sister-in-law complaining that modelling clay was hard for the children in her nursery to manipulate and sent her some of the wall-paper cleaning putty to play with.  Play-doh was born.  Google Maps came about because, during a meeting, somebody was fiddling about with satellite mapping technology on their computer and they realised the potential.  The telescope came about because some children were playing with lenses.  When we fiddle and play about, we are creative and explore possibilities.

It does require patience.  In a world where every hour must be accounted for and outcomes assessed, play requires the opposite.  Creativity is whimsical.  It may not show returns every time, but in the long term new ideas and connections come forth and your business can evolve and develop.

How to make a happy workplace

Look for the joy

Excitement and happiness are both contagious. 

 As an employee recruiting new workers, consider whether they are going to increase the net happiness in your workplace.  A worker with a naturally happy disposition will help create a happy workplace culture. 

For yourself as a worker, try to recapture that excitement you felt when you took on your new job, or decided on your career.  Talk to your boss about making the workplace a more positive and happy place to be.  If you’re in a workplace where creativity and happiness are not valued, then maybe it’s time to rethink your career.  (I did!)


The number one reason that people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated.

It follows, then, that the number one way to increase the happiness and productivity of your workplace is to show your employees that you value them.  There are different ways to achieve this:

  • make your expectations clear and then trust people to do the job you’ve asked them to, without micro-managing them
  • a simple pat on the back and comment on what they’ve done well
  • a public acknowledgement – employee of the week or star-worker board
  • find out what their goals are and help them to work towards them
  • find out more about them as a person – what do they do outside work?
  • listen to all suggestions of how to make work better – not just your senior management team
  • be flexible about work-life balance.  If you don’t allow your loyal worker to go and watch their 5 year old in her first class assembly, they won’t feel quite so happy or loyal.  Let them go, they’ll repay you by working doubly hard when they return.

Chat / informal times

Encourage chat.  Let your workers get to know one another, encourage them to greet one another, to chat over coffee, to compliment work well done.  Provide space for this to happen.  Sure, you’ll get one or two workers who start out by taking advantage of this to avoid work and moan about the boss, but as happiness, company loyalty and productivity increase, they will soon step up.

Creativity is key

In team meetings develop a culture where no idea is off the table.  This removes the fetters and allows and encourages playful and creative thinking.  You may get some daft ideas but you will also get some truly creative gems that with a bit of polish could transform your business.

Outside of work

Workers spend a lot of time together in work and begin to build friendships.  Develop these friendships further with some outside work activities.

Work is often seen as a bit of a drudge.  You go, you get the job done, you go home.  Often our work places are focused on uniformity, efficiency (or the lack of it!) and serious action.  Playfulness, however, can make an enormous difference to the whole ethos and productivity of a company.  For the employees it can make the difference between a job they love and a job they just turn up at.  Playfulness in the workplace is really important.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

How playfulness benefits business – productivity

It’s true – happy workers are more productive workers.  Researchers at Said Business School at the University of Oxford have found conclusive links between happiness and productivity.  They found that workers are 13% more productive when they are happier.  In addition, a study by the Harvard Business School suggests that disengaged (unhappy) workers are involved in 37% more absenteeism, 49% more accidents and 60% more errors and defects.  It sounds like a happy workplace could really affect the bottom line of your business!

Workers who enjoy their job:

  • put more energy into their work and work with more passion;
  • care about the business they work for and find out more about the aims of the company;
  • are better at their jobs
  • are more likely to be loyal and stay with the company (saving time and money eaten up by high staff turnover)
  • are healthier (work-related mental disorders cost a lot in paid sick days).
  • are more supportive of the company and other employees

What do we mean by a playful business?

Playfulness isn’t necessarily about putting bean bags and lego in the corner, but it could be about “gamifying” mundane work, it could be about encouraging and developing playful imaginative development sessions for all workers to allow and encourage imagination and inspiration.

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” Roald Dahl

Play is not the opposite of work – that’s leisure.  Play is part of work.  Not having play in your workplace makes your business less flexible, less innovative, less able to develop or enhance inspiration and passion.  A happy workplace makes for a productive, creative business.

Creative thinking