How I Make Work Like Play

A good half the time, I’m doing what I want to do, which is very rewarding.  It’s like play.

I think that my own work day is not a very good example to people in other kinds of work because, as an academic, I have a lot of control over my time.  I can work on a thing for an hour or two and if I get tired of it, I can move onto another thing. 


It’s actually built into the life of a professor to constantly have the time broken up into little pieces: meet with a student, teach a class, go work on a paper, go have a lab meeting in the case of a scientist like me.  And so I’m constantly changing tasks.  And that has the advantage of giving me a certain amount of control over my time and also breaks up the tasks a little bit.  

One thing for me that’s also the case is that as in many professions where people chose their professions because they wanted to do it, for me a lot of work is not really “work” per se, it’s play.  So I’ve managed to make the work rewarding for its own sake. After decades of wanting to be a neuroscientist, I finally get to be a neuroscientist all the time.  

I would say only half of my time is spend doing things that I would regard as doing work, per se, where if I really had to choose, I think maybe I might like to be doing something else.  

But a good half the time, I’m doing what I want to do, which is very rewarding.  It’s like play. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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