How Having Fun Affects Productivity

Having fun is a basic human need. It is something almost every human (except perhaps the exceptionally pious) needs in order to recharge, relax, and perform at their best. In this article, I want to explore three primary aspects of having fun;

Is having fun a good or bad thing? This is a question I struggled with during my youth. Over the years, I have met many people who ignore their own need for fun because they see it as a distraction from work or worship. But is it really a distraction? Isn’t there a way to have fun and remain productive? When trying to improve our productivity, we sometimes forget that we need to live a well-rounded life. We get so caught up in one aspect of our lives or another that we neglect others. When this happens, having fun is often the first victim. (The next is family but that’s a topic for another article)

You may be wondering what fun has to do with productivity. Is it really necessary to have fun? Shouldn’t every hour of the day be used for work and worship? Isn’t that what productivity is all about? Well no, not really. Productivity is about doing your best work, not overworking yourself to death. The truth is that every human (except perhaps the exceptionally pious) needs to have fun in order to recharge, relax, and perform at their best. In this article, we will discuss three topics related to having fun; the Fiqh ruling on Having Fun, the psychological benefits of Halal fun, and how to have fun in a way that keeps us productive.

Having Fun The Halal Way

The first book I ever wrote, all the way back in 2009, was titled Having Fun The Halal Way: Entertainment in Islam. I wrote this book because at that time I was struggling with understanding the role of fun in Islam. I was studying Islam back then under an ultra-conservative set of teachers who considered all forms of fun Haram and a waste of time. I was struggling to stay productive without any fun in my life, and it began to affect my mood, my happiness, and my health. In my frustration, I began researching what Islam really had to say about having fun, and this book was the result of my research.

To summarize the core message of the book; everything is permissible unless proven prohibited. This includes the majority of recreational activities. Recreational activities only become prohibited if they are directly mentioned in the Quran or Hadith, contain prohibited elements, or distract one from one’s duties. Beyond this, there is no harm in enjoying the good things of this world. In fact, Allah created good things for the enjoyment of the believers, as stated in the Quran.

Say: Who has forbidden the adornment of [from] Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good things of provision? Say: They are for those who believe during worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection. Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know. Say: My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed – and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.

Qur’an 7: 32-33

This verse is very clear. The good things in the world were created for our enjoyment. Therefore, a believer should not experience any guilt, nor be shamed, for enjoying some halal entertainment in moderation. This is what Islam teaches about having fun, its a simple practical and balanced approach to the topic that ties in with the psychological and productivity perspectives on the topic. Although, it has been a decade since I wrote the book, and many of my opinions have changed on specific issues in the book. The general message remains the same; the majority of recreational acts are permissible in moderation. Moderation really is the key, especially when it comes to productivity.

The Psychology of Having Fun

Having fun in moderation is very beneficial, both physically and mentally. Some of the benefits of having fun include reduction of stress, the release of Serotonin, and improved concentration, performance and memory. The health benefits of having fun also include an increase in positive thoughts and better sleep. The three key points I want to focus on here are the release of Serotonin, improved concentration, and improved performance.

Serotonin is a very important chemical in the bodies. It is sometimes called “the happy chemical” because it is a primary source of human happiness. Serotonin affects our mood, sleep, energy levels, productivity, and overall happiness. Doing activities that release Serotonin is crucial for remaining productive and mentally well. This includes doing work that matters, exercising, eating healthy and having fun. As Serotonin is necessary for productivity, this makes having fun necessary for remaining productive too.

The link between fun and concentration is very important. When a person has difficulty concentrating at work or studies, the first reaction tends to be to try harder which can lead to further difficulty and may even cause a headache. Try this instead. Take a five-minute break and do something fun for just five minutes. You will find an immediate spike in your concentration level when you do so. The key is to balance your work with moderate fun sessions to keep your concentration high all day long. I prefer to work in 45-to-90-minute intensive sessions followed by a short break doing something fun in order to recharge. This helps me maintain high levels of concentration throughout the day.

Just as fun is necessary for boosting concentration, it also assists in improving overall performance at a task. This can occur in two ways; by having fun before a difficult task or by finding a way to make the task fun. When we take time to relax and enjoy some Halal fun before doing a difficult task, we increase our chances of performing optimally. Alternatively, if we can find ways to make tasks more fun, this also increases our performance. I use this method with my daily writing. A lot of people find writing strenuous and difficult. However, I enjoy writing, and one of the reasons why is that I set up my writing hour is a way that makes it fun and exciting. I look forward to writing every day because I get as much joy out of it as I do when I am relaxing. This allows me to write more productively and to produce higher quality work. Take a task that you find difficult and find a way to make it more fun, this will increase both your concentration and overall performance at that task.

Having Fun The Productive Way

There is a fine line to walk here though. For many people, having fun is the main obstacle between them and productivity. Addiction and wasting time in entertainment often results in having less time for doing great work. The key here is to find balance. Balance doesn’t mean equal time for both, but rather the right amount of time for both. Self-discipline is necessary for turning fun from a distraction into a productivity tool.

The main step is to schedule your fun for specific times of the day and to stick to those times. If you plan to have a five-minute break, stick to five-minutes. My schedule generally includes the following times for fun; five minutes every hour, half an hour after lunch, two hours in the evening. Altogether, that equals less than three hours a day which is a very small portion of the day and doesn’t impact my work negatively. Instead, it keeps me productive, healthy and performing optimally throughout the day. Additionally, I take a day off every week to spend time with family, and at least one week of vacation every year. The goal in both cases is to recharge so that I can work optimally. When we approach having fun in this manner, it becomes a crucial productivity tool, rather than an obstacle to productivity.

There are several other steps for turning fun time into a productivity tool. This includes selecting hobbies that are mentally stimulating and beneficial. It also includes avoiding immoral forms of entertainment, avoiding things we find addictive, sticking to our times and schedule, and knowing when to get back to work. When we approach the concept of having fun from this angle, it becomes a tool of productivity and does not become an obstacle. The key is self-discipline. If you can be disciplined about the usage of your time, then having fun becomes an important part of your productive daily routine and you will feel no guilt in having halal fun.


In this article, we learned that the majority of recreational activities are halal and a believer shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying some halal fun as part of a balanced day. There are several health benefits to including fun in your day. These include better sleep, higher levels of concentration and performance, reduction of stress, the release of serotonin, and improved memory. When scheduled around work and moderated, recreational activities become productivity boosters aiding us in achieving peak performance. Self-discipline and scheduling are necessary for keeping our fun time productive and beneficial.

Want to learn more Productivity Principles? Check out my latest book which covers fifteen Productivity Principles, exploring each of them in detail.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.


rizwan kaiser

JazakhAllah Khair for this article Ustadh.
You haven’t really gone into details of what ‘fun’ activities may be.
What is your opinion on watching movies and television shows etc. Say a movie (without any known forbidden content) once or twice a week ? Personally I am reluctant but I cannot convince my children otherwise

Ismail Kamdar

The reason why I didn’t mention this in the article is that these are issues of difference of opinion, and I did not want discussions over differences of opinion in Fiqh to distract from the goal of the article i.e. productivity.

Found the article to be very informative as it kind of sheds clarity on issues that we as youth struggle with: finding the balance between fun and work and the Islamic take on it.

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