Why you must cultivate hobbies despite the 9-5 grind

Hobbies are essential to a person’s confidence and well-being. Most people have the ‘I don’t have time for hobbies’ excuse but there is a surprising benefit to cultivating them – it helps your performance at work. Yes, the long commute time and stressful deadlines do make it difficult but people still have the weekend.

When you pursue hobbies like painting, writing, playing music or playing a game instead of watching television or browsing social media websites, you unlock certain skills. Let’s take a look at three positive effects of cultivating hobbies.


They unleash your creativity


For businesses to thrive, they must be brimming with ideas and people who pursue hobbies are more innovative. Whether you are a painter or a writer, you always start with blank space and then wade your way using your creativity.


At work too, using this quality can reap great dividends. If you aren’t a good singer or a good cook, it’s okay. Creativity isn’t confined to just a few activities.


Also, creativity requires you to think beyond your rational mind which is trying to keep you in a box. In an interview with James Day, American science fiction author Ray Bradbury said, “The intellect is a great danger to creativity … because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads “Don’t think!” You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel.”


They give you a fresh perspective


Stepping into someone else’s shoes and looking at things from their perspective is an important skill. Empathy enhances your ability to gauge the feasibility of ideas. It also helps us build relationships and communicate effectively.


In creative pursuits (like singing a song), we are driven to think from another person’s perspective. We send our mind into a different space and feel something magical. I have personally written several stories and every time, I have had a cathartic experience. It’s taught me something more about myself and enriched my life on this planet.


They boost your confidence


A low self-esteem gets found out very early and a lot of professionals suffer as a result of it. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology studied the positive effects of cultivating hobbies in performance related tasks. “The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work,” the researchers wrote.


An organization called Zappos encourages its employees to put up their artwork and decorate their desks. This helps them perform better and feel happier – two attributes critical to their company’s growth.


If confidence is something that you’re struggling with, you can try cultivating a hobby like gardening and see it bloom. When you see a flower grow nothing, you feel like the creator and you bring that confidence with you at work.


Fighting the 72-hour work weeks


In today’s day and age, a lot of professionals have to endure 72-hour work weeks. That’s more than 10 hours per day without any break. It includes any time spent on travelling or working from home on weekends.


Often, this time is filled with demanding deadlines and challenging work. One should not work themselves to a point where they are breaking down. Employees must be free to raise this problem with their managers and be able to adjust some rejuvenation time in their schedule.

This ‘always on’ culture needs a rethink since it’s giving employees a torrid time that’s affecting their health and relationships. Several studies have linked and proven that heart disease can occur as a result of extremely long work weeks.


In an interview with Harvard Business Review, one employee (who had changed from a highly stressful job to a relatively comfortable one) said, “It’s astonishing how much you can get done when you’re not in meetings for 10 hours a day and things aren’t cycling 24/7. Since people aren’t working round-the-clock, I don’t get stuck in responder mode. I can actually think a little bit about what I need to do, which is saving me time and lowering my stress level. This is certainly not a low-stress job, but I don’t feel like I’m in hyper-drive mode all the time anymore. I’m really energized.”


At the end of the day, you only have so many weeks (I may have 2100) left. If you don’t spend it doing things that give you goosebumps, you’re not making the most out of life. Time passes by quickly and even a little practice each day can make you a great musician in a year. Some people have the talent to shine brightly but they don’t chase their dreams so intensely. They get lost in the confines of practicality and ignore their gifts. What would have happened if Anil Kumble just focused on his engineering degree? India’s highest wicket taker in Tests would have been lost.


We are not saying that practicality is wrong. We’re just saying that we need to give our dreams a chance.


References:


1. Why You Should Work Less and Spend More Time on Hobbies (Harvard Business Review)

2. Welcome to the 72-Hour Work Week (Harvard Business Review)

3. Working more than 10 hours regularly increases chance of a heart attack (Business Standard)

4. Benefiting from creative activity: The positive relationships between creative activity, recovery experiences, and performance-related outcomes (Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology)