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You don’t need to work more hours; you need to work better hours.

And you know what? The best way to get more out of your time at work is to put more effort into your time off work.

In other words, you need a hobby.

Fun is the safety valve for an over-pressurized life

At one point in my life, I had completely forgotten how to enjoy life. I had no safety valve for the pressures building on me.

I didn’t even realize the strain it put me under until a psychotherapist friend of mine asked me what I do for fun.

I couldn’t give an answer.

She then told me something then that has always stayed with me: Until you get some fun in your life, nothing else is going to work.

I realized my pressure had built to unsafe levels.

My work had taken over my life. My fun and relationships took a backseat and I wasn’t any fun to be around.

Since then, I’ve learned the importance of having hobbies.

Following are the top six ways hobbies improve your work life. And everything else.

Use this safety valve.

1. Hobbies help you structure your time and get more done

Work is like a gas. It fills whatever space you give it.

If you plan on a 100-hour workweek, that’s what you’ll get.

But if you’ve got a hobby—something you’ve scheduled and are looking forward to getting off work to do—you’ll fill less time with work.

It’s simple: the moment you pull the trigger on your hobby you’ll get more done at work.

2. Hobbies improve networking efforts

Men without hobbies are flat. Unidimensional people have little to talk about with others.

It’s great if you love your work.

But your work is so specific few people relate to it. Even in a networking situation.

The more time you spend on your hobby, the better your networking conversations will go.

People do business with people, not businesses.

And a hobby will make you a more interesting, more relatable man.

3. Hobbies relieve stress

The ability to disconnect from work and engage in something that is challenging and meaningful to you will relieve a ton of stress and open up your ability to perform better.

It’s like breathing.

You breathe in when you say “Yes.”

The pressure builds, and you need to exhale with a hobby to relieve that stress.

The ability to disconnect from work and engage in something else that is challenging and meaningful to you will relieve a ton of stress and open up your ability to perform better.

4. Hobbies provide meaningful work insights

Eureka moments happen more when you’re not over-focused on a problem. One study found that people found insights in solving problems when they physically look away from the problem and blink frequently.

Sometimes, Lions, you need to look away from the problem to find the insight you need. Hobbies provide the perfect channel for that.

Hobbies, in other words, get you more creative at work. And creativity is one of the surest ways to earn more success.

5. Hobbies help you drop into “flow”

A while ago on the blog, my business partner Bill wrote about how his cycling hobby helped him drop into the “flow” state.

You know the feeling.

  • Everything moves smoothly as you expect it to.
  • Time passes in the blink of an eye.
  • You get more done than you thought possible.
  • Things that are obstacles on normal days seem insignificant.

If you’re pounding your head against a brick wall at work, make the brick wall disappear by engaging in your hobby.

6. Hobbies provide focus

Pings, alerts, notifications, alarms, emails, calls, drop-ins.

The modern digital workplace is literally designed to distract you from deep work.

Instead, you’re constantly in firefighting mode.

As you break away from work to pursue a hobby, you retrain your brain from the digital layout of always being interrupted to being completely absorbed and present in a single task. 

Want to work more effectively? Get a hobby

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My wife Sandy recently took up painting and has found it easier to stay engaged on any given task as a hospice nurse at work because of it.

With hobbies, rather than multitasking your way through a never-ending to-do list, you become more capable of ignoring distractions and every idle thought that pops up.

Finding your hobby

Not every man has a hobby. So what do you do, if like me a while back, you have no idea what you like to do for fun anymore?

Well, here’s seven ideas to get you started finding something that matches you.

  1. Identify what you’re good at. Identifying things you already excel in may help you see some hobbies you might like to do better.
  2. Think of what draws your interest. What is something you’ve always been interested in that you’ve never gone after? Could probably be your hobby, whatever it is.
  3. Social or solo? Decide first if you want this your hobby to be something you can take off and do alone or if you want to use it to make friends and engage with people in a social setting. I’m looking at a rowing class, for instance, because I’m a social animal.
  4. Inside or outside? For me and I’d say most men, outdoor activities tend to fill you up more. But on the other hand, one hobby I have is to go to hole-in-the-wall restaurants to eat great food with awesome company. Decide what works best for you. One client of mine does CrossFit for both the fitness and social aspects.
  5. Google “hobbies for men”. Or read articles like 75+ Hobby Ideas for Men to trigger some ideas and see what jumps out at you.
  6. Ask your wife. She knows you better than anyone in the world, she’ll have some ideas that are likely to stick better than most.
  7. Ask your friends. Your friends may already have hobbies they know you could be interested in. And they may even invite you along to experience it and teach you the ropes. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Now, don’t be afraid to engage in your hobby. The long-term gains are much greater than the short-term loss you see of not being able to work as many hours.

After all, the hours you will work will be better hours.