top of page
  • Tamar Balkin

Leadership, Leisure, And Lockdown, An Unlikely Combination?

"All work and no play

Makes Jack a dull chap

When it comes to the crunch

It's too much I've got to stop

No pain no gain it's all going

Down the drain”

All work and No play by Van Morrison(click here for the music)


“Well, it’s not like we can do much else, so after dinner I just log back on and do more work. Anyway there is always something else that needs to be done. I am a bit nervous in these times about job security so it’s important to work hard. To be honest I really love my work and believe it’s very important so it's good to be on top of things"

Current client

Regular readers would know that as our stress levels increase, and we feel overwhelmed the ability to regularly switch off from work and daily chores and make time for leisure is essential.

What is leisure?

Leisure is discretionary time, which is the time left over from work and other life maintenance activities. leisure activities are freely chosen, that utilises an individual’s abilities and resources, in a satisfying or fulfilling way. Leisure activities are pursued with the sole purpose of enjoyment and fun.

“when you’re conscious that you’re involved in an activity that’s got nothing to do with getting a task done, or someone’s counting on you to do, then you’re likely involved in leisure .”

Pete Broderick

The average person has at least 30 hours of leisure time at their disposal each week. But the majority of people believe we have no leisure time at all. There is also a view that leisure is for the retiree, or those who are lazy or choose not to work, however, psychologists have found that leisure is not only good for our wellbeing but is essential to growth and development throughout the lifespan.

“We have become conditioned to view decompressing and doing nothing as a waste of time.”

Sreenivasan and Weinberger

What are the benefits of leisure ?

A commitment to a leisure activity, especially with others, pulls you out of work and serves as a buffer against burnout and overwork.

Researchers have found that leisure can lead to meaningful life engagement, by promoting a joyful life, a connected life, a discovered life, a composed life, and an empowered life.

There is research to indicate that leisure time if done properly has many benefits including:

  • Motivation

  • Mental health

  • Physical health

  • Creativity

  • Resilience

  • Social connectedness

  • Happiness and flow

  • Quality of life

  • Self esteem

  • Skill development

  • Adjustment to transitions including, parenthood, retirement, immigration, and even a new job.

  • Permission to reward oneself themselves

  • “Recharging” when tired or emotionally spent

"In those moments away from work and the getting of doing of daily life, that’s where innovation and creativity lives.”

Brigid Schulte

Finally, and most importantly, leisure is fun!!


How do we combat the “cult of businesses” and ensure that we make time for leisure?

  • Start with an honest definition of leisure time, then look at your diary and see how you actually spend your time.

  • Highlight the unscheduled pockets of times when you are free from obligations. Some will be long like a Sunday afternoon, others may be a mere five minutes, either way they are opportunities for leisure.

  • Now plan what you want to do in your leisure time, Ashley Whillans will challenge you to start thinking about how you spend our time to account for it the way we account for our money.

  • It is worthwhile to define your leisure goals and values. (click here for a leisure values quiz).

  • Then start brainstorming and researching the leisure activities that matter and interest you, these are the things that will improve your wellbeing rather than distract from it. (see below for some ideas)

  • Don’t forget in the few minutes between commitments you can book in a catch up with a friend, look up the rules of backgammon, or buy a puzzle on line.

Seriously what can we really do at the moment?

“It's the perfect time of day To throw all your cares away Put the sprinkler on the lawn And run through with my gym shorts on. Take a drink right from the hose And change into some drier clothes Climb the stairs up to my room Sleep away the afternoon.”

Pinch Me by Barenaked Ladies (click here for the music)

Here are some practical ideas that you could try now:

  • Listen to music

  • Stroll aimlessly – click here for my blog on the benefits of an aimless stroll.

  • Paint

  • Crochet or Knit

  • Learn an instrument

  • Cook something new- for a friend and get them to make you a meal

  • Take an Online Course and Learn a New Skill

  • Watch the sun set or rise

  • Take up yoga

  • Learn meditation

  • Read a book

  • Join a book club and talk about books

  • Set yourself a daily photo challenge

  • Sew or repair your clothes

  • Write a novel

  • Do some gardening

  • Paint your furniture

  • Learn to code

  • Play board games- don’t have to be face to face you can set up a boards in two homes and play

  • Watch a film with a group of friends and set up a whatsapp chat group and chat throughout

  • Teach your dog some tricks

  • Watch a documentary

  • Order the same take away or cocktails with friends and have a virtual night out

  • Learn amigurumi – the Japanese art of crocheting small creatures or characters.

  • Learn origami

  • Hand write and post letters to friend – old school pen pal

  • Create and run a neighbourhood or at home scavenger hunt. (click here for inspiration)

  • Visit a mystery house (click here for an option)

So what about my client?

As the session drew to a close, my client said to me, “I am going to talk to my team about leisure activities in our "one on ones' and discuss how we will keep each other accountable for participating in fun leisure activities on a daily basis.”

Final thoughts:

To expand the pleasure of, and your commitment to, your leisure activities, take the time to tell and involve others in your plans. If you want to email me your lockdown and general leisure goals, I will follow you up in about a month and see how you are going.

Thank you to my husband who photographed me trying to teach the puppy to read.



Mckay, C. (n.d.). The psychological benefits of participation in leisure pursuits for adolescents. [online] . Available at:

Zhang, C. (2020). Hiking to Well-being: Leisure Benefits for Personal and Social Development. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 513, p.012068.

‌ (n.d.). Are You Engaging in Enough Leisure Activity? | Psychology Today Australia. [online] Available at:

Reis, A.C., Lokpo, K., Bojanic, M. and Sperandei, S. (2020). In search of a “vocabulary for recreation”: Leisure-time physical activity among humanitarian migrants in regional Australia. PLOS ONE, 15(10), p.e0239747.

The relationship between the perceived value and leisure benefits of cultural and artistic leisure participation: Application of hierarchical regression analysisYoung-Jae, Kim; Yeon-ji Park. Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica; Buenos Aires Vol. 30, Iss. 2, (2021): 49.

Bora, L, Lawson K.M., Chang, Po-Ju; Neuendorf, Claudia; Dmitrieva, Natalia O; et al. (2015): Leisure-Time Physical Activity Moderates the Longitudinal Associations between Work-Family Spillover and Physical Health, Journal of Leisure Research 47,4

Csikszentmihalyi, M. & LeFevre, J. (1989) Optimal Experience in Work and Leisure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 56, No. 5,815-822

Whillans A. and Dunn, E. ( 2017) To Promote Happiness, Choose Time Over Money. November 14, 2017

Daley, A. (1999) Work, leisure and well-being.Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology; Leicester Vol. 72, 402-403.

Listen to Ep 114. Brigid Schulte: Overcoming the Overwelm from Work and Life with Stew Friedman in Podcasts.

Listen to Ep 113. Ashley Whillans: Combating Time Poverty from Work and Life with Stew Friedman in Podcasts.

Listen to Bruce Daisley from the WorkLife podcast in Podcasts.

4153.0 -

How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 LATEST ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/02/2008

21 views0 comments


bottom of page