Work Hard, Play Hard

5 minute read

Being a digital copywriter has a lot going for it.

It’s fun. You get to learn so many new things, work in a variety of industries (if you choose), and try out different kinds of projects.

It’s collaborative. Much of what you do involves working with a team. Team environments can be challenging, but they also push you to be more creative. And, when everything — and everyone — comes together for a win, it’s borderline magical.

It’s lucrative. You can make six figures as a digital copywriter working less than full time. There aren’t a lot of other professions that will let you do that.

It’s rewarding. When you work for clients you like, who create products you’re excited about and really believe in, it feels good. Your writing can help to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.

But, it’s also hard work. You have to learn a lot. You have to show up and do the work, even when you don’t have a boss to report to. And, you’re responsible for lining up your next project… and your next, and your next.

Whenever something is hard work, it’s important to balance that with rest and play.

And, if you’re working hard, it makes sense that you should play hard, too.

Playing Hard… What’s That Mean?

Young Woman Rock Climbing

If you’re scratching your head about what I mean by playing hard, that’s okay. Let’s dig into the idea a little bit.

Have you ever gone out to do something fun, something you normally enjoy, but found yourself worrying about other things? Or distracted by what you didn’t get done during the day?

That’s not playing hard.

Playing hard is when you throw yourself into something. When you shelve everything else and let yourself be completely in the moment. It could be spending a day sailing on the lake or hiking a local peak. But, it doesn’t have to be physically hard. It could also be going out to dinner with friends and laughing until your side hurts. Or curling up with a book and reading for an hour or two or three, uninterrupted.

Another way to play hard is to try something new. It could be a new activity or a new place. Maybe you’ve never been zip lining, so you give that a try. Or, maybe there’s a new donut shop that opened up in your town, so you go get a dozen to share with your family. When you try something new, when you explore and even allow yourself to be uncomfortable, that’s another way to get lost in the moment.

Whether it’s something new or something tried and true, the key to playing hard is to make time for not-work activities, and then to let yourself get lost in them. Don’t take your work with you when you play.

That’s how you play hard.

Why Is Playing Hard Important?

Girl in bookstore, framed by books

When you have your own business, it becomes a part of you. That’s okay. It’s normal. But, you want to draw a line at letting it consume you.

Sure, the fact you’re a freelancer, a writer, a marketer, and online entrepreneur… those things become part of your identity. But, they shouldn’t be the entirety of who you are. You also need healthy relationships, enjoyable hobbies, and causes you care about… things you think about that are 100% not work-related.

This is important, because the complete break from work — where you don’t think about it at all, where you maybe even forget you’re a writer for a moment — will give you the energy, the objectivity, and the creativity to continue thriving within your business.

Without rest and play — without disconnecting for work with all its joys and stresses, you’re more likely to experience burnout.

In fact, in one study, researchers looked at college students, their stress levels, and how playful they were. They found those who engaged in play were less likely to feel stressed out and more likely to use healthy, adaptive coping strategies than those who didn’t play.

In an interview with Wired UK, Jeff Harry, a consultant who specializes in adult play said, “Play makes you more productive, it relieves stress, it improves brain functionality, it stimulates your mind and boosts creativity, and when you’re playing, it improves relationships and your connection to others.”

Play also allows your mind to wander. And, when you’re not actively thinking about work, you might receive one of those bolt-out-of-the-blue ideas that solves a problem or gives you a new way to look at a project. Even if lightning doesn’t strike, you’re likely to have more creative ideas and come up with better solutions to difficult problems when you allow yourself to take a break and have fun. In one study of physicists and writers, researchers found 20% of their creative ideas came when they weren’t thinking about work at all.

So, when you play hard, you…

  • experience less stress,
  • improve your coping mechanisms,
  • boost your creativity,
  • increase your productivity,
  • deepen your relationships, and
  • increase the chances of coming up with solutions to difficult problems.

Pretty cool what a little fun can do, huh?

Making Time for More Play in Your Life

Business woman planning her claendar

The biggest barrier to playing hard for a lot of us is simply making the time for it and then planning to do something with that time. It’s also important to recognize it takes some practice. The first few times, you might find your mind wandering to work frequently, or you may feel a little stressed about deadlines or long to-do lists. Give yourself time. Keep making time. Keep playing… and eventually, you’ll start to lose yourself in the fun of it all.

Start by looking at your calendar at the beginning of each month. Try to pick one evening each week and at least one weekend day each month you’ll dedicate to play.

Put those days and times on your calendar.

Next, think about what you’ll do. Long walks… a picnic in the park… a movie… boardgame night. It’s up to you, but know what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with before the time arrives.

Then, enjoy yourself. Set an intention not to think about or talk about work. Throw yourself into the activity and have fun. That’s the real key.

When you get in the habit of playing hard, you’ll find you have the energy to work hard and the clarity of mind you need to be productive when you’re working. I can also all but guarantee you’ll start having more fun at work, too.

So, get out there and play!