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When I was growing up, there was a simple rule I had to follow: Work first, play second. What this meant was that if I had homework or chores to do around the house, I had to get those finished first, and then I could play, relax, and have fun.

This rule became a habit that I continued to follow when I grew up, went to college, and got a job. I think it’s a more efficient way to live.

If you live your life the other way—play first, work second—you tend to run into problems. One problem is that you can get so caught up in the play that you never get around to your work. This can cause you to drop the ball on important tasks, and result in an overall lack of effectiveness.

A second problem is that you can’t truly enjoy your playtime when the unfinished work is hovering in the back of your mind. You know it’s there, and it isn’t going away. So it can be challenging to just relax and have fun.

Instead of running into these issues, organize your life in such a way where you work first, and play second. Figure out the tasks you want to complete today and do them right away. Get those jobs completed quickly and efficiently, and put all of your focus and energy into getting them done. Then, once you are finished, you can completely relax and have fun for the rest of the day, not having to worry about unfinished work.

Discussion: Do you usually work first, play second, or play first, work second? Do you think the order is important?

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