The Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard is a key life design exercise used to help people check-in with themselves. This post details how I personalized the Love-Work-Play-Health Dashboard for university students.
What is the Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard?
The Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard is an exercise developed by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (link to worksheet). It’s used to help people check-in with themselves and gauge 4 key areas: love, play, work, and health.
Defining Love, Play, Work, and Health for University Students
In their book, ‘Designing Your Life‘, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans detail how they frame each of these 4 areas. Here is how I adapted their definitions and created prompts for university students:
Prompts for University Students
You can think of the love gauge as a measure of how you feel about relationships that are important to you. This can include relationships with:
- Significant Others
You can think of the play gauge as a measure of your energy spent doing activities that are for fun or for personal enjoyment. This can include:
- Extra-Curricular Activities
- Intermural Sports
- Creative Outlets
This gauge can be a little trickier because certain activities like participating in student organizations and athletics could tie into how you define ‘Work’.
As a university student, the work gauge can be a mix of curricular and various types of paid and unpaid work. They can include the following:
- Paid Jobs
- Research Projects
- Lab Work
- Leadership Positions
The health gauge is a measure of your assessment of your physical and mental health at the moment.
Personalizing the Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard
Recently, I put on a ‘Taste of Life Design’ workshop for the Johns Hopkins Chemistry Department.
The Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard was the key activity of the workshop. It was offered in two parts.
First, students were asked to fill out the Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ version of the Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard. The dashboard was explained using the adapted prompts in the previous section.
Then, students had the opportunity to create their own personalized dashboard using provided materials.
Here are some of the heavily used items that I brought in to help students design their own dashboard:
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ version of the Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard is one we often use. It’s a quick life design activity that helps get students in the mindset of how to check-in with themselves.
The most important aspect of explaining this activity was communicating that the dashboard gauges would likely not be full at any given time – and that’s normal. For example, cold season was in full swing when we did the activity so most of the health gauges were at less than 50%.
The dashboard is not meant to make you feel bad. It is a tool to help you check-in and be mindful of where you are at in a certain moment. For example, during mid-terms or finals, the work gauge might be dominating, but the play and love gauge might be fuller during spring or summer break.
There are often facets of our life that might not fit neatly into the definitions laid out for love, play, work, or health. This could be activities, goals, or habits that we feel are important and deserve a gauge. Giving students the space to design their own dashboard offered a chance to personalize this activity in a way that was meaningful to them.
This activity kickstarted meaningful conversations that went beyond aspirational work/life balance discussions. It also gave students a better idea of the holistic approach we use in helping them design their experiences at university and beyond.
How would you design your Love-Play-Work-Health dashboard? Let me know in the comments.