Why “Work First, Play Second” Doesn’t Work

As it is said “All work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl.” I wholeheartedly agree with this insight. This thinking is easy-to-follow this when you work outside the home and have designated work hours. You know when to focus and, conversely, when to kick off happy hour.

When you work from home, however, that all changes. There are interruptions, domestic and family needs, social opportunities, and a lax environment.

If you’re like me, in order to set boundaries between your professional and personal life, you adopt a strict “work first, play second” mentality.

Play is essential to your success, but the above advice needs to be completely reworked.

Chances are you are an independent, motivated, dedicated, innovative individual who always puts forth 110%. If this sounds like you, then guess what? There will ALWAYS be work. From the moment you brainstorm over coffee, to at night when you lie in bed planning your to-do list, you’ll find that work never stops.

This is why you need to throw out “work first, play second” and adopt a new line of thought.

Intersperse Work With Play

Before I had this epiphany, I was always working, always busy and essentially putting off my life. Does this sound familiar?

I realized that the key to maintaining sanity, health and relationships was to “intersperse work with play.” Ah yes, a line of thought we can all live with.

What does this look like?

  • Prioritize family. Instead of telling my child again and again “Mommy’s working, I’ll play with you later,” I schedule time for him first. We spend 30 minutes together reading, playing board games, doing puzzles, etc.

  • Schedule breaks. I set a timer and take a break every hour for myself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes to stand up, stretch, step outside, chat online or refill my coffee.

  • Don’t be a hermit. I remember to say “yes” to friends. Although I can stay glued to my laptop and become a complete shut-in, I remember the value of laughter and companionship.

  • Set business hours. I could work all night, but started setting a cut-off time. Now my husband and I enjoy our evenings together after our kids are in bed, and I turn my brain off.

What are the results?

  • All the feels. My children feel loved and not neglected, they let me focus on work once their needs are met, and I have no more mom guilt.

  • Bye-bye tension. My neck and shoulders are less tense, I breathe more, and stepping away brings fresh ideas for content.

  • My village is strong. My friends understand they are important to me and are there when I need them. Which is good, because I will.

  • I know when to be on, and when to be off. Setting boundaries to separate my job from my personal life has improved my focus and productivity. I work when it’s work time (with breaks as I’ve described), but once I’m done, I’m done. This benefits my professional quality and output, and has strengthened my family relationships.  

  • How do you intersperse healthy breaks when working from home?


Author Jackie Toops:

A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children.