A real-life risk: Managing your Fun Levels for greater productivity

Have you ever wondered why we procrastinate?

So often I hear friends lamenting the length of their to-do list. Almost always, this comes down to a core disappointment involving a lack of adequate time.

But how often do we sit down to do work, and find that we’d simply rather not?

For me personally, it’s no longer true that I’m just too busy, that my full day is completely utilized with engaging tasks, so much so that I can’t add another. Instead, the waste in my day comes from the moments when I’ve fully intended to do something, but then when the time comes, I’m frankly not in the mood.

Enter the concept: MANAGING YOUR FUN LEVELS.

For years, Googlers have attended classes and workshops on managing your energy, not your time, a game-changing philosophical shift that’s prized by HBR and Stanford as well as yogis and wide ranges of health practitioners.

But in my everyday life, I boil this concept down frequently to the idea of something totally tangible and answerable in any moment: Your fun levels.

How are your fun levels doing today?


It’s so easy for those I love to notice whether they’re having fun or not. So often, starved for fun, we try to drag ourselves through more chores or more awful, boring tasks in order to “get things done” and “not waste time” so that later we can just relax.

But aren’t you also familiar with those incredible Super Hours, the times when you sit down to your inbox and the emails just flow forth from your fingertips in rapid succession, a natural outpouring of your being totally in the moment and in sync, without the belabored sandpapery-ness of Trying So Hard?

So to you, gentle reader, I submit the following.

Next time you find yourself depleted and unable to move forward, grinding against the list of Musts and Shoulds and Didn’ts and Should Haves, take a brief moment – even 5-10 minutes – and check in with your fun levels.

If you’re below 3, you’re grinding.

Ask yourself, what would a 10 of fun look like right now?

If you don’t know, ask yourself (and make space to answer) — what would it look like to be REALLY REALLY good to yourself right now? What would be too much fun to even consider?

Then — if the even weird, strange, totally unexplainable idea you came up with doesn’t pose threat of harm to yourself or others — just go for it.

I remember a dark day packing for Burning Man, when my partner Other Mammal and I were so sick of packing and disagreeing for our first survival mission in desert country that I simply said I didn’t need to go.

After some time apart and a shower, we realized our fun levels were simply Too Low to Handle It.

Sometimes you just need to stop fighting and trying so hard and, if everyone is on board and interested in it, smile and make out.

Later that night we hit up the Castro Theater in San Francisco for a Little Mermaid Sing-a-Long, with 800 other totally riled-up adults eating organic popcorn and blowing tiny bubbles wearing paper crowns.

It was the freaking best. And in the context of A Lot More Fun, suddenly all the problems and shoulds and musts looked totally different – our sense of adventure was back.

Manage your time and energy, yes, but if it’s just not happening — manage your fun.

What is the most fun you allow yourself to have in a given workweek? What Fun Level resets have saved your day in the last few months? Answer in the comments… and have a great week.


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