Work should be enjoyable

by Mhairi Simpson on January 20, 2015

I know. Radical concept, right? We’ve all got so used to the idea of mindless drudgery that society thinks this is how it should be – you live out the best years of your life in frustrated boredom in order to earn freedom once your body has started to slow down and is less able to take advantage of it.

So ingrained is this belief that you might think it’s always been this way, but that’s not the case. It was the industrial revolution, starting in the 18th century, that introduced the idea of people doing one thing all day and getting paid, let’s face it, not very much for it. The concept of the assembly line came well before Henry Ford but didn’t really catch on in the West until the early 19th century, when it caught on like a burr. The only cost was to the unfortunates who ended up working on them, doing the same thing all day, every day (except Sundays, after much protesting).

I don’t know about you but I have a very low boredom threshold and for years I was given the distinct impression that this was abnormal and entirely my fault. I was an entitled little brat for wanting to actually enjoy whatever I spent my life doing. This didn’t stop me from working office jobs for sixteen years before I finally crumbled (it wasn’t pretty). Now, admittedly, office jobs don’t generally require you to do exactly the same thing for eight hours a day (unless you’re doing data entry, in which case say goodbye to your brain cells). They do, however, require you to sit in front of a computer for the vast majority of that time and you’re generally working on the same kind of thing – emails, documents, reports, spreadsheets, databases. All on the computer. Unless you’re really lowly, in which case you have to make frequent runs to the printer. For me, at least, it didn’t matter that it wasn’t exactly the same task. My brain soon shut down anyway.

It might shock you (more likely not) to discover that we are not designed to work this way. Two hundred years of industrial revolution doesn’t make much of a dent in the 1.8 million years beforehand. Up to about twelve thousand years ago, humans were all about the hunting, the foraging, the scavenging, at least as far as collecting food went. And when you had enough, you went off and did something else. Maybe had sex or drew animals on cave walls – the fact that cave paintings exist tells us that early humans had the time to unleash their creativity, not to mention the inclination.

There is, of course, the fact that early humans had to go out foraging. Whether they hunted or scavenged animals which were already dead or were lucky enough to stumble on a bush full of berries, they had to go looking for food in order to eat. This was their work. It fed them, in the most direct way possible. These days, working is just as essential, only now we are taught that we should be content to sit in a chair in front of a screen for most of the daylight hours, five days out of seven (at least for office jobs), and just take it as read that this is how we feed ourselves. We have been conditioned to believe that this is as direct a method of feeding ourselves as going out looking for a recently deceased buffalo.

Except that there are many other forms of work out there. There are people who jump out of airplanes for a living, abseil down cliffs (and climb up them too), go wandering around rainforests with groups of tourists or spend their time fiddling with very small pieces of very shiny metal to create the most stunning jewellery.

The only limit to what you call ‘work’ is your imagination. This is why I consider creativity so important. It’s on the top level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but if you don’t have it in your work, can you fit it in elsewhere? And more importantly, will you? Because if you don’t think it’s necessary, why would you make the time?

Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather do work which is unmistakeably yours? Or would you prefer to do tasks anyone else can do, to be replaceable?

File:Maslow's hierarchy of needs.svg

Everyone has a number of things they’re good at and everyone has one thing they are awesome at, a god-given gift that shines, given half a chance. Does help if you actually take it out of its box, though. Stuff needs light in order to shine.

Does your creativity get applied in your work? Do you get paid for it? If so, great – tell me more! And if not, why not? What are you good at? People earn money in all sorts of cool ways. It’s something to think about, right?


Be A Bard – The Bloody Knife

by Mhairi Simpson on January 13, 2015

In case you missed last week’s post on the subject, Be A Bard is a storytelling card game. You play a card and keep the story going according to what’s on the card, the object being to lose all your cards. And no, it’s not quite that simple but that’s the gist of it. Today we will riff off the below image – The Bloody Knife. If you’d like to join in the story, just leave a comment!


Bloody knife


“The Bard relates that there was once a very bloodthirsty knife. Whoever picked it up couldn’t help but stab someone with it, which got the Court Jester into a lot of trouble when he stabbed the Queen on her official birthday…”


If you’d like to stay up to date on Be A Bard, particularly for when the free print-and-play version goes live, just sign up here for updates.


Shoot For The Moon 2015

January 7, 2015

I got SJ Higbee into this last year and she’s a huge fan, intent on carrying it on in 2015. Of course I had a pretty shitty year so I didn’t get anywhere near achieving any of my goals. However, this year has got off to a far better start and what better way to […]

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The countdown to the #BeABard Kickstarter begins

January 6, 2015

Mainly because I just looked at the date and did the maths and realised I want to launch the Kickstarter just after the middle of March, which means I have a smidge under two and a half months to get it all together. First up, the video. Oh ye gods, the video. I wouldn’t be […]

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Be A Bard – The Fairy Knight

January 5, 2015

You’ve probably seen me mention Be A Bard a few times and you probably haven’t much of a clue what it’s about, so here’s an introduction (complete with visual aid): Be A Bard is a storytelling card game. The short explanation is that you all get five cards and then you take turns to tell […]

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What do you want?

January 3, 2015

It’s one of those questions which seems so simple on the face of it, and yet, when you dig a little deeper, you start to find how hard it really is to answer. We all have simple desires. To eat, to drink, to enjoy the company of others or ourselves. But when you get what […]

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Now you see them, or not. And EARTH GIRL.

January 2, 2015

I was actually planning to post a Bard card today, specifically the Fairy Knight. Unfortunately it’s just taking too long to clean him up – each card takes around three hours – and my shoulder is screaming at me to do something else for a while. So I’m telling you all about how I’m not […]

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Starting as I mean to go on

January 1, 2015

Schedules scare me. Commitment scares me. And by ‘scare’ I mean ‘terrify me to the point of losing all semblance of sanity’. So it’s totally understandable that I have decided to make 2015 The Year Of Utter Terror, also known as, The Year Of Doing Things That Scare Me. I mean, WHAT THE HELL??? What […]

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Dog parenting downsides

December 20, 2014

All my life I’ve wanted a long-haired German Shepherd. I was supremely pissed off, back in 2003, when my mother and stepdad bought a long-haired German Shepherd puppy. It seemed like they were rubbing my nose in it. I was at university in London, living in one room. They were in Cambridgeshire, in a house […]

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Bye bye, boxes

December 2, 2014

Fifteen minutes ago I opened up a blank Word document and started typing. Two hundred and fifty-six words later, I know I’ve made yet another huge change in my life. These are the first words I’ve written since the beginning of October. There’s something to be said for picking up a character who isn’t yet […]

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