Ok, so this isn’t actually going to be the most boring article about work that you’ll ever read, but there are worse things in life.  I’m sorry I lied to you. Now that my conscience is clean, let’s move on. Our society has this gigantic misguided belief regarding humor and having fun in the workplace, which has long been avoided because if someone didn’t appear to be serious and stressed, they couldn’t possibly be productive. The opposite couldn’t be truer: studies show that laughing increases communication, making you easier to deal with. So why does work have to be boring? Actually, I think the better question is, whoever said it had to be boring in the first place?!

Why is it that so many people take life and work way too seriously? It’ll kill you. Luckily for you, there exists the perfect remedy: Humor. Use humor cautiously, and don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know exactly how humor will affect you. Humor has been known to cause side effects such as laughing, an increase in lifespan, reduced blood pressure, stress and anxiety alleviation, improved feeling of well-being, and it can also burn substantial calories. “Laughter is so good for you in so many ways,” says Cris Popp, founder of Laughter Works, an organization that educates people on why they should be laughing on a routine basis. “Laughter helps release negative emotions and pent-up tension, particularly anger, anxiety, fear, and boredom,” says Popp. “It’s great for anything that involves innovation and creativity. Stress and anxiety restrict the mind, while laughter releases it.” I like this guy. He seems like he’s got things figured out.

Work doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can be fun. Studies have shown that employees are more productive when they are having fun at work than when they are bored to tears. Obviously, we’re not talking about toga parties and luaus (although that could be fun). There’s a misconception that having fun on the job will cost money, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some ideas to make work fun and reward your employees (and won’t cost you a cent) include:

  • TELECOMMUTING is proven to be one way to reduce stress and make an employee feel acknowledged. If you really want to reward an employee, consider giving them one day to work from home, then give additional days as their productivity increases.
  • BLEND FUN INTO MEETINGS with beach balls, hacky sacks, or Nerf guns, and always crack a joke at the start of it. Or take your meeting outside to a park – everyone loves fresh air (especially when it’s 75° and sunny).
  • SUPPORT THE RADICAL NOTION that work should stay at work – not travel home with them. Have each employee write their to-do list for the next day prior to leaving work. This way, your employees allow themselves not to think about what’s on the list until the next day.
  • HANDWRITE A NOTE to your employee praising them for a recent accomplishment, or simply to say a job well done. Everyone likes a personalized touch!
  • HAVE FUN AND GAMES in the break room. A board game or Legos can give the break and boost your employee needs, shockingly increasing their productivity.
  • HAVE A CREATIVE CORNER with bean bag chairs, beads, and subtle lighting where your employees can relax and become inspired.

Work doesn’t have to be boring or suck the life out of you. It also doesn’t have to bombard your stress levels, either. Change your outlook on work by giving yourself something to look forward to each day – schedule mini sessions throughout your day dedicated to doing the work you actually want to do mixed with the odds-and-ends stuff you may not particularly enjoy. When you give yourself permission to dangle the carrot in front of you, your mind will stay sharp and motivated, you’ll feel refreshed, and it will help keep even the most boring task in context. Plus, scheduling your day like this can help reduce stress, which increases your productivity. You want to hear something interesting? The average person spends 90,000 hours of his or her life being at work alone. I think that’s a pretty good reason to change the way we work, don’t you?