Forms of Play
Boagworld, a podcast on designing and developing websites, has a recent episode on innovation worth listening to whether you're into web design or not. Paul Boag gives good tips on the importance of play and experimentation as a method for innovation. He suggests that you challenge assumptions and ask questions, that you break up your work day with short periods of play. He then quotes Clay Shirky to say that
If we all collectively watched 1% less TV we would be able to create 10,000 wikipedias.
Paul says we often think of TV as our only way of relaxing, but really, it's not the case. When you're tired, you can turn to other activities, such as golf, reading, or experimenting with your website. Your relaxation can be a form of play. Relaxation doesn't have to consist of television.
Although this seems like an obvious point, it's something I've somewhat forgotten. Have you ever come home on Friday night exhausted and sleep-deprived from working the whole week, with the thought that you just want to sit down in front of a good movie? It's easy to slip into the mindset that turning to media is our only way to relax, but actually, a lot of other activities can fulfill our need to decompress and deactivate in a more productive way. I sometimes play on a WordPress site, experiment with a new plugin, write a post, play basketball, or count the tiles in my ceiling (just kidding). I find that even when my brain is tired, it still has energy for these forms of play.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.