In the previous entry in our Fast Track series, we looked at the various benefits of industry internships. This month, we explore how hobbies and other activities can help train useful skills for the workplace.
Developing skills for work isn’t just limited to in-office training session and courses. There is a wealth of hobbies and activities you can undertake in your spare time that can help change the way you work for the better. While time off is ultimately about relaxation and forgetting about the stresses of your career, hobbies might also help develop skills you can use in your day to day work. Find the right hobby for you, and you can use them as experience to overcome persistent problems, develop your management skills, or simply approach your work from a new perspective.
Here are our top five hobbies that will help the way you work:
1. Learn a Language
The benefits of learning a second language aren’t just limited to your holidays abroad. Studying a new language’s grammatical structure and unique words will train your brain to think about the world around you differently. Rather than just simply translating your speech into another language, you’ll start to think in that language, which will improve your ability to compartmentalise tasks and focus on specific problems. This is an invaluable skill in nearly all facets of work, from writing reports to brainstorming new ideas in a group.
2. Coach a Sport
Playing a sport naturally encourages teamwork, an essential skill in the workplace, but to really take things to the next level you should consider opportunities to coach it as well. Coaching others nurtures your leadership and communication skills, as you demonstrate an ability to instruct a large group of people and review their performance by giving them specific skills to work on. You’ll also show that you can break down and explain information you already know (the sport you play) for a new audience (those who are learning how to play) and organise a team of people based on their individual skills.
3. Play a Musical Instrument
The time it takes to learn an instrument is sure-fire evidence of both self-discipline and task management. The meticulous practice of a musical instrument shows you are able to stay persistent with a task and develop fine motor skills. Understanding the composition of music is not unlike understanding the composition of a large project, as both require a firm grasp of not only being able to perform individual tasks (notes) but also understanding how they work in harmony to achieve a larger aim (song). Watch the TED-Ed video below which explains how instruments benefit your brain:
4. Try Creative Writing
Another activity that will demonstrate your self-discipline is creative writing. No matter what format you write in (short story, haiku, novel etc.), the process of writing can be both therapeutic and challenging, encouraging your creative problem-solving skills. Regular writing exercises are a great way to train your mind to find new connections between ideas. Tasks such as writing a diary entry from a character’s point of view can help you consider projects from the perspective of an intended target audience. The more skilled you are at doing this, the better you can critically evaluate your own work and discover problems you previously might not have spotted until your work was finished.
5. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering any spare time you have shows an incredible work ethic and that you’re willing to put other people’s needs ahead of your own. Whether it be at a local charity, at your former place of study, or flyering for a cause you believe in, getting out and giving your time to helping others is one of the most fulfilling activities you can undertake. It even develops your networking skills, as volunteering means you will meet and work with people from all walks of life. This is perfect for getting over the nerves of client meetings or working with a new team for the first time.
With the demands of employment, not everyone can dedicate the same amount of time towards the hobbies and activities they want to explore outside of work. However, if you can use the spare time you do have and commit it in one of these five ways, you’ll not only be developing new skills, but also changing the way you work and think in the office.
What hobbies or activities have helped you while at work? Let us know on Twitter at @Viking_Chat