It’s 5:30 on a Thursday evening, and you’re still at work. You’ve been working on a big project for a while, and you’ve reached an impasse. What’s the best way to spend your next hour – grinding away at work, or practicing your latest five-ball juggling routine?
According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, working on that juggling routine may be the best option, suggesting three ways that a hobby can boost your overall productivity
Creativity: Whether you’re a musician, artist, writer, or cook, or juggler, you often start with a blank canvas in your mind. You simply think: What will I create that will evoke the emotion I’m going for? It’s no surprise that by giving yourself this mental space, and focusing on feelings, you can reawaken your creativity. Neuroscientists have found that rational thought and emotions involve different parts of the brain. For the floodgates of creativity to open, both must be in play.
Perspective: When pursuing a creative hobby, you are often thinking about how someone else would experience your creation. When you are constantly trying to see (or hear) the world through someone else’s eyes (or ears), when you return to your work project, you take that mentality with you.
Confidence: After practicing your juggling for an hour, you’re likely to see some improvement, no matter how small. That improvement will bring an increased confidence that can be carried over into the workplace.
And there’s research to boost some of these claims.
One study found that “creative activity while away from work may be a leisure activity that provides employees essential resources to perform at a high level.”
Another study found that spending 45 minutes making art helps boost someone’s confidence and ability to complete tasks.
And there’s some anecdotal evidence of the benefits CEOs gain from pursuing their hobbies.
I am not sure if my daily blogging or the occasional chance to do some juggling does anything to make me more productive at work, but it sure helps to take my mind away from the job for a while and brings a sense of accomplishment that certainly can’t hurt raise my confidence level ever so slightly.
So if employers are looking to boost productivity, it seems as if they should actively encourage their employees to pursue their hobbies. Not only is there the possibility that the firm reaps some of the benefits noted above, but doing so will send a signal that the employer sees their employees just as workers, but sees them as a whole person, someone who has passions and interests outside of work, and would love the chance to pursue such interests with the company’s blessing.