I have a friend who is like Jim Halpern from the show The Office.

He will spend inordinate amounts of time scheming and executing elaborate pranks. They always delight everyone around him, and he is clearly very alive while doing them, but I always felt like it was such a waste.

How much time and energy was taken away from productive, profitable work?

I think I was underestimating the value of pranks.

I’m not going to claim there’s no such thing as unhealthy distraction, but I think the process of pranking is a source of untapped creativity and productivity.

The thought process that pranksters have is playful. It’s not threatened by circumstances, but seems to see only opportunity in every event. It is empathetic and has a deep understanding of what makes other people tick. It’s creative and challenging. It’s patient. And it lightens the mood for everyone and creates a strong esprit de corps.

These are all desirable things if you’re trying to create and deliver value in the world.

I’m not a big prankster, but working myself into a more mischievous, pranking mindset never seems to have anything but positive effects on my work. The lost time is made up for in gains from fresh thinking and enjoyment.