Employees, managers, and CEOs are constantly looking for ways to boost work productivity. After all, time is money, and the more efficient the work, the more profitable the company.
Because of this, plenty of research is conducted on productivity in the workplace. Recently, researchers have found a link between a leisurely past-time and efficiency. Today, we’re going to explore how obtaining a hobby can improve work productivity.
In a study performed by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, employees were asked to participate in a non-work creative activity, and rate the effect that activity had on their performance at work. Their research found that non-work related hobbies, especially creative ones, were positively correlated with the acquisition of resources (the gain of anything with value, likes skills, beliefs, etc.), mastery, control, and relaxation.
In addition to these benefits, creative activity outside of work boosted creativity in the office. Participation in a creative outlet often means learning a new skill, improving skills, or gaining interest in new things.
New cognitive pathways are formed when humans learn new things, making future pathways even easier to find. This means that employees who are creative with their hobbies will already have a knack for creativity in the workplace.
In another standout article by Dan Cui and Xiang Wei called Leisure time and labor productivity: a new economic view, a study on international numbers found that an optimal number of “leisure hours” (5813 hours!) has a positive relationship with productivity. This is especially apparent if the leisurely activities are constructive for the employee, like physical activity or research into an interesting topic.
As we’ve briefly discussed, some hobbies are better than others in terms of boosting work productivity than others. If watching T.V. is your hobby, you will experience some relaxation benefits, but another more constructive hobby would be more beneficial.
For example, if you want to take up music as a hobby, you will experience not only relaxation benefits, but you will also create new neural pathways and fast-twitch muscles. Learning to read sheet music is like learning a new language. Think of it as an exercise for your brain: the more you work and challenge it, the stronger it will become in the future. That new training module at work will actually be much easier to breeze through if you have a musical background.
If you’re new to music and not sure where to start, you can find plenty of resources on the internet for beginners, like Musician Authority, providing you an idea of what instrument to play, as well as tips on how to play.
Other than creative activities, physical exertion is a sure-fire way to improve productivity. Like music, learning how to play a sport involves strengthening connections in your brain, making new skills easier to learn in the future. Sports also have the benefit of cardiovascular health: exercising will raise energy levels, combat stress, and feed oxygen to your brain. This is a result of endorphins, which are released by your muscles when you run or lift weights. This powerful substance provides an immediate boost to your energy and happiness levels.
At work, you can find up to 72% improvement in your time management skills if you regularly work out or play sports, making it a worthwhile time investment for any employee. If you’re having trouble finding time or motivation to get on your feet or try out a new sport, check if your company has an intramural league: If they don’t, consider pitching it to your manager or starting your own unofficial league for coworkers. Not only do you get to spend time with work friends, but you also get the added benefits of exercise.
In short, hobbies of all shapes and sizes are crucial for productivity, so encouraging employees or coworkers to take up a new leisurely activity will guarantee a boost in efficiency.