Monday, September 13, 2010

Work/Play

work/play taxonomy in development

The thing that I've hugely worked on over the years is making the most of my time, because what you make of your time is, basically, your life. But all that means to me is doing more of what I want to do in any given week, because I trust that being guided by what I want to do will produce a good enough instance of life—to be added to all the other instances of life being produced by everybody else in this big experiment— and a week is a nice-sized piece of time to deal with.

A way that I've developed with a little help from my friends for dividing up what I want to do is this work/play taxonomy that I wrote about in an earlier life, from which this caveat still holds:

Now if you're a grasshopper type, try not to think in terms of play as fun and work as not fun; and if you're an ant type, try not to think in terms of work as productive and play as unproductive. Play and work can both be fun, and can both be productive. Play can be unfun. Work can be unproductive, god knows. (I'm an ant-type, in case you hadn't figured that out.) So we're going to erase those meanings from these terms, but also we're going to acknowledge that we can still see the erasure cloud, so to speak, around them (4/2/09).

With that in mind, we're strictly defining our terms as follows:

work is something that is done as a means to an end
play is something that is done as an end in itself

Now we make a table:

  that is workthat is play
Work WORK
something that is done
as a means to an end
that is a means to an end
HOBBY
something that is done
as a means to an end
that is an end in itself
Play PLAY
something that is done
as an end in itself
that is a means to an end
PASTIME
something that is done
as an end in itself
that is an end in itself

So this is asking you to think more rigorously than I'm doing this thing that's supposed to be fun and it isn't fun, is that play that is work? even though the end point of this exercise is to lead you into a life that's the most fun possible for you. Fun is just not that graspable of a concept, I actually think that fun tends to fall apart the more it's grabbed at. Tiny pieces of fun that you pick out of the carpet is broken fun. These tools will get you the big, good pieces of fun, plus it's fun to use tools.

But back to the erasure cloud, I think it's true that things that you do as an end in themselves tend to be the things you think of as fun; but, these things can also be productive. Productive is important because, well, you make something from that. Like you know, a living. Now, making a living isn't the only thing. But it's a big thing, it takes up the biggest part of your week. If making a living is fun for you, you're golden. I think lots of people do have this figured out, I'm still working on it for whatever reason. But you can also use this to parse out the other parts of your life that aren't making a living, which I am avoiding calling "work" for now; the other things don't take up as much time as, okay, work, but they do add up. And remember, the game is making time for the things that you want to do the most.

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