WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUL. 31, 2015
version 10, draft 10

Why Having Hobbies Makes You a Better Employee

If we’re lucky, we live for our work. We absolutely love what we do and have fun every single day. But even the most career-minded of us have interests outside of the office. We may think that the activities we like to do are silly and even something to be ashamed of, but that’s not the case at all. Read on to find out why having hobbies can make you a better employee. You will be more content with your place in the world and a more valuable worker to your company and boss.

See Also5 Ways to Be a Better Employee

You Will Be Happy

People don’t play a musical instrument or take up life drawing because they hate doing these things. We have hobbies because they enrich our lives and bring us joy. A happy employee is a good employee. Researchers at the University of Warwick discovered that how happy we are is directly related to how productive we are at the office. And what company doesn’t want their employees to work as hard as they can? Never feel guilty about your interests, no matter how serious or playful they are. If they make you feel content, you’re doing something good for yourself as well as the company you work for. Hobbies bring us joy because they’re just as relaxing as reading a book or watching a movie, but they give us the added benefit of allowing us to rest and recharge while learning something and having a much better time.

You Will Be More Self-Motivating

The interesting thing about hobbies is that we nurture them in our free time. We make a conscious choice that instead of sitting down in front of the television, we’re going to play the piano for an hour or create a watercolor painting. In other words, we motivate ourselves. So if you’re already motivating yourself when it comes to the things you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of work, you’re going to be able to motivate yourself when it comes to your job. No one will need to lecture you on being lazy or getting stuff done because you will be used to being productive on your days off and weekends, so you will want to be productive at the office, too. It’s a different feeling than if we spent hours watching television, which only makes us feel tired and without a desire to work.

You Will Be More Creative

Many hobbies involve artistic pursuits like painting, drawing, or learning to play guitar, to name just a few examples. We enjoy this because we may be creative people but have chosen a more corporate or logical career path that doesn’t always allow us to indulge that side of ourselves. And even non-creative personality types can learn to be more artistically minded if they take up a creative hobby. This will automatically translate to the office because you will be more open-minded. You could even improve your brainstorming since doing something artistic involves sitting and thinking and concentrating for long periods of time -the skills directly involved in the art of brainstorming and idea generation. Creative tasks are involved in any possible job position from writing to project management (to name just a few) so this will benefit you no matter your job or industry.

You Will Bring More to the Table

Picture two employees sitting at a conference table. One has zero interests outside of work and basically lives at the office. The other is an avid yoga devotee, plays the piano and is teaching themselves Spanish. Which is going to be the better employee? The latter, of course. It takes more than hard work and logging long hours at your desk to be valuable to your company. It’s also about being a well-rounded and interesting person. Having hobbies broadens your horizons, opens up your world view and gives you more conversation topics. You never know when they will come in handy at work. You could impress your boss when a new client comes into the office and you can chat about yoga with them. It’s just an added bonus since you’re already great at what you do, of course.

You Will Handle Work Stress Better

If your entire life revolves around your job title and responsibilities, of course you’re going to take work crises personally and be upset when you make mistakes. It’s your identity, after all. But if you love your job yet still enjoy your life outside of work, you’re going to realize that work isn’t all there is to being a human being and that it’s not the end of the world. You will approach problems in a more calm way and you will know that almost anything can be resolved and fixed.

Anything that is enjoyable and relaxing lowers our stress levels, and so your love for researching 1920s fashion, for example, can calm you down after a hard, stressful week at work, which will only benefit both your health and your ability to do your job.

You Will Get Through the Tough Times

If you know that your weekends are filled with your enjoyable hobbies, you can get through anything at work. You can meet a deadline with ease and even content, and you can handle a difficult colleague who is making teamwork more than a little tricky. It’s always good to have something to look forward to and this can be a motivating factor when it comes to doing the things that we don’t really want to do.

Think of it this way: your hobby wasn’t so much fun when you started getting interested in it, right? Hobbies take time and hard work, just like when you start a new job and have to get used to the way things are. Now you’re an old pro, but it wasn’t always like that in the beginning. We don’t automatically know how to play an instrument or paint -we have to study, learn and grow. So if you managed to get through your growing pains during your first few yoga classes or struggled through some embarrassing guitar lessons when you could barely play one chord, imagine that you can get through anything at your job in the same way.

You Will Be Independent and Yet Also a Team Player

The cool thing about having a hobby is it’s something we have to do alone and yet we can also experience it with others. While some hobbies are definitely solo indulgences -we can’t get someone else to draw for us, after all- others, like being part of a book club, are about sharing it with other people. We may take a class where we interact with others who are learning the same thing, or we can take lessons where we study under the direction of a teacher. Our people skills will improve which will make us better at working with others at the office, and our ability to work and concentrate by ourselves will also get better. These are two incredibly important skills at the office. Just read any job description: the prospective employee must be a "team player" and yet "independently motivated."

See Also: 6 Ways Being a Night Owl Can Help Your Career

Do you hide the fact that you love playing in a jazz band or doing stand-up comedy on weeknights from your boss and co-workers? Now that you know why having hobbies can be a good thing for your career, you never have to hide your quirky interests ever again.

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