An idea for bringing back the everyday fun
That you can start this weekend... or anytime!
Dear Creative Adventurers,
The countertops in my Nan’s kitchen regularly heaved under trays of baked goods. Warm mincemeat pies, tarts crammed with strawberries, scones dolloped with English clotted cream, and too many kinds of cake to count. I used to say that she should open a little roadside bakery. Nothing fancy, just a small stand that people could visit once or twice a week for her delectable creations, to which she always replied, “Where’s the fun in that, love?”
Fun. What a concept – and quite possibly a long forgotten one, especially in the millennial brain that’s been programmed to turn passions into profit at every opportunity. (No judgment! After all, I turned my love of photography and writing into a career).
If we’re lucky, as creative entrepreneurs, the bulk of our work is genuinely a good time and there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing for a living. But ask us what we like to do for the actual living part and chances are we either draw a blank or frantically spew about how busy we are… with work… which we love, of course... but still...
When I think back to my childhood, if anyone asked me what I liked to do the list was endless and enthusiastic – biking, climbing trees, playing with dogs, colouring, dinosaur anything, horse everything, building forts, reading, jumping off the swings! And then I’d run out of breath.
But as adults, where does that natural zest go? We tell ourselves that we’re constantly pressed for time, that we’re too busy to play, and that everyday fun (beyond the enjoyment we’re lucky enough to get from work) simply has to wait.
Well, if I may, I have a suggestion that has helped me tremendously in shaking up this sad state of affairs...
My new habit
For the past year or so I’ve adopted a nifty habit to remind myself that moments of fun don’t have to linger just out of reach – and it began with making a list (earth-shattering, I know). Furthermore, I called that list The Fun List... (What can I say? It’s been a wild couple of years and my creativity has been spoken for elsewhere).
Now, the first crucial step when crafting The Fun List is to suspend everything you think you know about what lists are, because this one isn’t about getting as many things done as possible. Urgency like that destroys the whole idea of enjoyment before it can hold any sort of real space.
Think of The Fun List as a collection of friendly reminders to yourself, a place to jot down all those little things that you keep saying you’d love to do but never quite get around to. Not hobbies and not goals. Things like trying the new bakery in your neighbourhood, taking your tea outside or spending time in the garden. The Fun List’s purpose is to help fill time more intentionally, specifically those moments where our instinct is to reach for the proverbial phone and give even more of our life to a digital existence.
Gathering ideas for fun things to do isn’t enough though – that would be too vague, too unfocused and if I could ever claim to have just one piece of wisdom to impart it would be that without focus nothing ever really happens.
In order to really work…
The Fun List needs to be built around these three specific ground rules:
1) No deadlines or due dates are allowed, at all.
2) Everything on it must be something that you think is (or would be) fun to do (or try). (Not something that you think you should want to do – there’s a massive difference)
3) Only small things are permitted. This means no “bike for 6 weeks” or “learn a new language,” because long-term tasks like that, however fun you might find them, run the risk of morphing into a strange sort of self-pressure, which defeats the purpose of fun.
The Fun List is a random collection of one-off things that can be completed in an hour or less. The idea is that whenever I find myself with a free blob of time and inevitably paralyzed by the prospect of deciding what to do (because decision fatigue is real), I can pick something from The Fun List to enjoy in the moment.
What’s on The Fun List for me currently?
I’m so glad you asked!
- prettifying my cutlery drawer (yes, that counts as legitimate fun for me right now)
- transplanting daisies into the garden
- trying a new cake recipe
- taking my dogs for an extra long walk
- calling an old friend for an old-fashioned phone chat (not video call)
- reading Where the Crawdogs Sing (I’ve heard wonderful things and am woefully behind on my second most loved list, My Reading List)
- testing out a craft to do with my friend’s kiddos
- and listening to a recently gifted copy of SuperTramp’s Crime of the Century album on vinyl
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Essentially, anytime I think, “That would be nice to do or try...” I pop it onto The Fun List so that I don’t forget about it. Then when the next urge to disappear into my phone comes along or an evening wanders too far into watching TV, I choose one of the friendly reminders from The Fun List and fill the time with that instead!
I know, I know it sounds like such an obvious thing to do. My kid self wouldn’t get it at all, “You need reminding to have fun?” she would have asked incredulously. And yet having this list safely tucked under the plump cow magnet on my fridge has helped me immensely in creating more offline fun in my everyday life.
If you’d like to join me...
The Fun List doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact it’s almost more endearing when it lives on a torn piece of paper or a bright yellow sticky note; so if you’d like to make one, start by scribbling on whatever is closest to you.
And if you do, please be sure to write and tell me all about what lovely things make their way onto your list – everybody’s will be different and I’m so curious to know what is fun for you these days!
Keep creating wildly,
Hi Laura! I'm really woefully bad at lists - I have bits and pieces of them all over my counter - too many journals with just a few pages written in them - but this is a good idea, this Fun List. :) I always like to think back to what I loved to do as a child. Just found your newsletter on the Substack thread today. I think we might be a bit like-minded! :)