To some, budgeting and planning are boring. To most they’re stressful. But to all, they’re a whole lot of work.
As the experts in Play At Work, we’re here to give you tips on how you can start to enjoy and be more creative, productive, and innovative as you think about where to spend next year.
Unless you’re a CPA who derives joy from Excel formulas and crunching numbers, it’s likely that the year-end budgeting process brings up unpleasant feelings for you.
Keep reading for our top tips on how to *smile* through your annual budget process.
Tip 1: Cheers to last year!
Start the process by celebrating the highlights from the past year.
Acknowledging the past investments you made that have paid off creates a positive tone for the remainder of the planning process and serves as a reminder for why you are investing in the business.
Tip 2: Spread. It. Out.
Research shows it’s impossible to give your full focus to anything for more than 90 minutes.
Take this to heart as you do this year’s budgeting process. If you typically do your annual budgeting all at once, schedule breaks. If your annual planning is a dedicated two-day session, mix it up with team building and other business conversations. If your process is more of an ongoing Q4 initiative, take advantage of this opportunity by being deliberate about how and when you focus on budgeting, on other work, and on actually enjoying what you do.
Tip 3: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.
Disclaimer: This one may not be as “fun” as the other tips, though the end result is a cathartic experience which in most cases leads to joy.
Money can’t buy happiness. If there’s an underlying challenge at the company, throwing budget at it won’t solve the problem. Use the annual budgeting process to evaluate what the real opportunities and challenges are in the business, and check in with yourself and your team on whether you need to invest budget or if your need to invest another resource.
Spending the time, energy, and thought on these big picture, gnarly, or exciting challenges will save you loads of time, energy, heartache, frustration, late nights, early mornings, and money in the long-run.
It may not be easy, but this type of deep thinking is crucial.
Tip 4: Happy Place.
We recently published an article on how the best ideas come when outside the office, and this applies to the budgeting process as well.
Getting out of your day to day space may inspire new ideas and push your creative limits.
Tip 5: Creativity, Inc.
It’s not acceptable to add games when budgeting — money is serious business… right?
Not exactly. Adding play, even to a budgeting process, makes people more creative. Looking for playful ideas? Insert an improv exercise such as each person says one word to create a full sentence. Or, when things get tense do an ice breaker—and don’t overthink it! It could be something simple like asking, “What was your favorite childhood game?” and taking a moment to revel in the shared nostalgia.
If you’re feeling at an absolute loss for coming up with a game of your own, play a game of 7-Up, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or even download a trivia app.
There’s more to play than meets the eye, and infusing elements of play into even the most serious business conversations will help unleash opportunity.