Who says Friday is the only day of the work week to look forward to? Take a cue from Thomas Edison, who said, "I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun." Even when you feel stuck in a career you didn't plan on, you can incorporate fun ideas into your day that put a spring in your step and help you whistle while you work. You'll end up feeling even more creative and accomplished than you usually do, and you may just discover how much fun your co-workers can be.
When was the last time you sang karaoke in your cubicle? Tune all your co-workers' radios to the same station during lunch. When a song comes on that everyone knows the lyrics to, start a singalong. Schedule a clean comedy hour midday by playing the audio from a stand-up routine, or your colleagues tell their best (appropriate) jokes. The morale you form by singing and laughing together may lead to higher productivity at work.
It may sound obvious, but everybody has to eat. Organize potluck lunches in the middle of the week according to a theme, or pass out recipe cards for exotic dishes that each person is assigned to make. Host a cookie contest and award the winner with an odd trophy of the week, such as a bag of flour that the winner gets to sign and date. Bring in guests while you eat to teach a skill or present a topic that your co-workers would like to know more about. Celebrating risks and encouraging professional development will inspire your co-workers to incorporate both elements into their jobs.
Inject a competitive spirit into the workplace to push one another to excel. See who can get the most work done by a certain time, then give them permission for 60 seconds of excessive bragging about it. Organize a local contest, such as a mini-golf tournament or laser tag game, that pits one group of employees against another. Don't be afraid to dare people to try silly things, but never penalize or ostracize someone who isn't comfortable doing it.
Sometimes you hit a wall mentally, and clocking even another half-hour on a project sounds impossible. Refocus by building in options for physical and mental pit-stops. Turn your break room into a makeshift Pilates class, for example, or trade jobs with a co-worker for the rest of the day to look at things in a different way. Pick a day of the week to start and finish early so you can go cycling with colleagues and blow off steam from the intensity of work.
Value the contributions of others by celebrating them and their efforts. Create a system for others to join you in this, such as printing the phrase, "I saw someone do something amazing!" on a note card and tacking the cards onto a wall others regularly walk past. Remember birthdays with cards or cake, celebrate new employees with a free lunch, surprise everyone with donuts after a big sale and make everyone gather for a group photo when someone is leaving.
Tony Myles is a pastor and national speaker on youth culture. He has been writing professionally since 2000, has a weekly health and fitness newspaper column in the Cleveland suburbs, reviews for "YouthWorker Journal" and was a featured reporter for the "Kalamazoo Gazette." He holds a Master of Business Administration in adolescent development from Indiana Wesleyan University.