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

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less