How Hobbies Make You a Better Employee

| November 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

Silhouette of a fisherman with a fishing rod on the background of the river and mountains

Did your father have a hobby? Do you remember seeing him tinkering around in the garage, perhaps, working on fixing an old motorbike or putting together a new set of shelves?

Maybe he liked music or fishing instead. In any case, for me, remembering my mother or father at work on one of their hobbies is a soothing memory. I remember Mom humming while she sewed a present for a neighbor, and Dad showing me why the signal for the remote-control airplane he’d built wasn’t working.

I believe that hobbies have a powerful impact on our family life and happiness in the home. However, we’re only recently coming to learn what a powerful impact they can have in the office, too.

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Recent articles, productivity analysts, and legislators are all taking a closer look at how balancing your life at home with your career can have an amazing impact on health, happiness, and productivity.

Part of that is making room for hobbies.

Here are 5 reasons why everyone should have a hobby (and how it makes you a better employee!

1: It Makes You More Interesting

Who here has had a hard time getting to know people at work? Who has a hard time chatting with their boss?

Business people drinking water at water cooler

You’re not alone! It can be hard to make connections, but they’re a lot easier to make when people are forthcoming about their outside-of-work lives.

Whether it’s a matter of finding things in common, or getting outside support for your projects, sharing your interests and hobbies can make you a more notable person in the workplace. And standing out to the higher-ups can help you progress at work!

2: It Expands Your Knowledge and Skills

One of the challenges of the workplace is that it’s easy to get complacent. You’re no longer taking new classes each semester, or working towards a certification.

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day work assignments and never learn anything outside of your professional field, or even anything outside of your immediate project.

A hobby helps you learn new things, and practice skills that you probably don’t get to at the office. For example, you may love working with your hands but you work as a programmer.

Or you could be interested in design and photography, but your job is mostly account management and customer service. In hobbies, we learn new things simply for the love of learning.

This helps you at work in a couple ways. For one thing, learning new things exercises your brain. Acquiring new skills is like a muscle. When you exercise, it just works better.

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Therefore, learning things at home can help pick up new things at work quicker. For another thing, the skills that you develop with your hobby often come into play in some form at work. Often, they present a solution that helps your office be more efficient, or tech-savvy.

3: It Helps You Meet New People

Even hobbies that seem very solitary (like, say, painting) open doors for new friends and associations. It can expand conversations with people that you already thought you knew.

And it can encourage you to go out. You might join a club or a class, or find places where you can display your own art or appreciate others’. You might just reach out to someone more often because you need help with a growing interest.

In any case, this can greatly expand your working skills. Networking is a vital part of business success, whether you work in sales, or are just looking for someone to help you build a new program that your company needs.

People like working with people that they know and have gotten to spend time with in an informal setting. The friends that you meet in your various hobbies can help open you up to new work positions, or make you more valuable at your current workplace.

4: It Answers the “Find Your Passion” Dilemma

“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”… who else has heard this quote? There’s a lot of talk nowadays about finding a job that suits your passion.

Balsa plane model kit

The appeal is obvious, of course. Not only does it mean that you’re more excited about Mondays, but it also means that you do a better, more focused job. Well, the idea can also feel terribly unrealistic.

After all, someone has to be a High School janitor… and it’s hard to find someone who feels that that’s their calling in life. “Find your passion” often feels like a luxury that sounds nice enough for spoiled and idealistic college students, but feels terribly out of reach for those of us with mouths to feed and a mortgage payment to deal with.

The truth is that passions change, they take a while to cultivate, and they usually don’t put food on the table. But that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a hollow life of drudgery!

Hobbies are where our passions live when our day job is more about a paycheck than a life calling. This doesn’t mean that your passion has been shunted aside to die in a dark corner, though!

You’re still developing those skills and knowledge. Eventually, you might be able to incorporate your passion more into your day job, or it’s possible that when life’s circumstances change (i.e. you’re successful enough to have the capital, or you have less family demands because the kids have grown up,) you’ll be able to start a new career or business that falls more in line with your lifelong passion.

5: It Relieves Stress and Prevents Burnout

The final reason that everyone needs a hobby is the most classic one. Life is stressful. Work is stressful. Deadlines, presentations, and demands can spike our blood pressure and sap the joy out of our job sometimes.

However, having a place that you can go to reconnect with the things that you love will enrich every part of your life. Even when your hobby is actually startlingly close to your day job, it’s nice to have some time to work on your own terms.

For example, I’m a writer all day at work, but I also like writing for myself at home. Not only does this relax me, but it also helps me be a better writer at work, because when you cultivate creativity, it spills over into everything that you do.

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