Work-Life Balance and HobbiesWorking in a high-demand job can take over all aspects of life outside of the office. Many people face the daily pressures from superiors to improve performance and become more efficient in assigned tasks. It is easy to let these demands take over, but there is another way to improve life in and out of the office. Developing new hobbies will improve the work-life balance and will cultivate skills that will improve competiveness in the workforce.

Getting into a new hobby will diversify your skillset and make you more of a well-rounded professional. Take a break from working and rushing home to watch T.V. every day; instead, take on a hobby to develop your personal skills and separate yourself from others in your position.

Impacts of a Hobby on Everyday Life

Break Routine: Working 9-5, five days per week can get awfully tedious. If you maintain the exact same routine every single day, you are bound to drive yourself crazy. Taking on a hobby allows you to schedule new events throughout the week and switch up any daily monotony. Moreover, office jobs can be stressful and demand all of your attention. Shifting your focus to something that is enjoyable, if only for a few hours a week, will provide you with a much needed break. Enjoy life outside of the office so that you can return to the office every morning refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

Develop New Skills: Whether it’s skydiving or birding, a hobby will develop new skills in areas you probably won’t advance in regular career related activities. Possessing a diverse range of skills will provide news perspectives and challenges to overcome. Also, having skills in areas not typical to the regular office worker will make you a more interesting conversationalist and will help you stand out from the crowd – who would you rather talk to, the person whose central interest is optimizing excel spreadsheets or the person who just hiked Mount Hua Shan?

Networking that is Actually Enjoyable: It may just be me, but events that are purely dedicated to professional networking can be boring and often end up feeling like a waste of time. Hobbies, on the other hand, allow you to meet people from all different industries and allow you to foster quick friendships based on mutual interest. Joining a group of likeminded people or developing skills in an area that brings you into contact with new people will broaden your social circle and bring you into contact with people you would never otherwise interact with.

Easy Hobbies to Start Today

The most common excuses that I see for not starting a new hobby or learning something new is lack of time or the start-up costs of engaging with a new activity. While it is true that hobbies such as skiing, aviation, or scuba diving can be costly and demand a great deal of time to attain a basic skill level, there are plenty of hobbies that take little to no time to establish basic capabilities in. Here are some easy hobbies that I have adopted. They don’t have a steep learning curve and take very little resources to start.

Exercise: The start of a new exercise regime, whether its running, swimming or weightlifting, is challenging but don’t get discouraged, everyone goes through that initial strain. Along with the long-term health benefits, exercise develops self-motivation and boosts energy levels. If you want to take the cheap route, start running or swimming (usually very cheap year passes at municipal pools). Joining a gym, CrossFit, or a running club come with a fee, but you will have the chance to meet new people and advance your skills by working with more experienced people.

Mycology/ Mushroom Hunting: The advantages of studying mushrooms are that you get outside all year round, meet interesting people from a range of backgrounds, and sometimes you can eat what you find! The study of mushrooms is always evolving so there are always new things to learn. All you need to start getting into mycology is a guidebook and access to the internet as there are many online forums that can help you learn about all of the mushrooms you find.

Meditation: Find a quite space and relax. Basic meditation is simple to learn and incorporate into everyday life. Set aside 15-30 min a day – right when you wake up or before you go to sleep is probably the easiest time – sit down in a quiet room, relax your mind, and concentrate on your breath. There are endless free resources online to help learn how to improve your meditation or learn new styles. This can be a sole activity or you can join a meditation/yoga centre in your neighbourhood.

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Fiona, a Business Funding Analyst with Mentor Works Ltd., holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University, majoring in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, and Peace and Conflict Studies, as well as a Masters of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory.