What you do outside of work can improve performance and productivity at work.

Ever felt revitalized working on something that’s completely unrelated to work?

I’m often surprised by how much I can get done after doing something fun that has nothing to do with my job.

Whether it’s learning a new language, taking new photos for Instagram, or even cooking – I suddenly feel refreshed and ready to tackle my to-do list.

Giving yourself a creative outlet by working a creative hobby into your routine helps you accomplish more at the office and boost your work performance.

Cooking Your Way to Better Performance

Incorporating a creative hobby is probably the last thing on your list when you put together a daily or weekly schedule. We’ve discussed before how unremarkable routines are great for boosting creativity at work, but there’s also been research that shows adding creative hours outside of the office can have a positive impact on how well you do at work.

Dr. Kevin Eschlemen and a team of researchers from San Francisco State University conducted a study about how creative activities such as knitting, cooking, photography, and even playing video games affect work performance.

In a two group study, the team asked 341 professionals from various occupations and 92 Air Force captains about the hobbies they enjoyed after hours and how frequently they participated in these activities. Employees were then asked to rate their performance and work, which was compared with how their colleagues and bosses rated them.

“We found that in general, the more you engage in creative activities, the better you’ll do,” said Eschlemen about the results. The team also had several ideas about why the two might be related.

Work performance most likely improves because creative hobbies help you:

  • Escape from the demands of the office and recharge
  • Discover more about your strengths and weaknesses
  • Increase feelings of mastery and control
  • Learn skills or gain knowledge that benefits you professionally

Individuals who often spent their free time pursuing various creative activities scored between 15-30 percent better on performance rankings than those who did not. And this was taking into account other factors that might influence performance – like personality. 

More Than Just a Performance Booster

When you’re busy with work, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself.

But how can you expect to be on your game if you’re running both your mind and body ragged? In addition to improving your performance at work, hobbies can ensure that you lead a happier and healthier life.

Here are a few more advantages to having a hobby:

  1. Prevents Burnout: Doing the same thing constantly will eventually cause you to burnout or run into creative blocks. Taking a break means you can refresh yourself and de-stress from the pressures of daily life at home or in the office.
  2. Sparks New Creativity: Hobbies provide new creativity and you’re more likely to have creative breakthroughs that can help you solve problems or produce new ideas.
  3. Keeps You Challenged: We all need to keep growing both professionally and personally! Hobbies continue to challenge you in a positive way so you can continue to grow.

What other benefits have you experienced from taking up a hobby?

How to Make Time for a Creative Hobby


Photo by Bipin Gupta

The hardest part of getting started with a creative hobby is finding time to do it.

That’s why choosing hobbies you enjoy is one of the best ways to make sure you have enough energy and drive to do them. If you love doing something, it will make it that much easier to dedicate time outside of working hours to it.

The beauty is that you can pick absolutely anything that interests you or you’re naturally excited about. It could be anything from starting a blog, learning to code, or even reading more.

For example, I used to do a lot of creative writing, but at the moment, it feels like work when I do it outside of the office. So, I’ve started brushing up on my French.  It’s fun for me and I never have to force myself to study because I want to do it.

Here are some extra tips that have helped me make time in my schedule for my hobbies:

Start with one hobby. Making time for one activity is a much easier adjustment than trying to add a lot in one go. You can start adding more hobbies as you learn how to shift things around in your schedule to make space.

Set a time. Make it official and set a specific time. By setting aside time, you’re giving yourself permission and motivation to make sure you do your hobby.

Do it at home. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get out and do an activity, pick something you can break into smaller chunks of time and practice at home. And you’ll never have an excuse to skip it!

Think of a hobby as an investment. Spending time on hobbies is a way to renew your energy and grow as an individual and practicing creativity should be an important part of your week!

What’s your creative outlet? Do you think it helps improve your performance at work? 

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