Three Reasons Hobbies Translate Into Productivity

  • Olga Belousova
  • September 14, 2022

Work-related burnout is on the rise, with current findings indicating that 52% of all employees report professional fatigue, up 9% from a pre-COVID report

Grappling with complex topics, meeting demanding deadlines, and working long hours are all part and parcel of life as a consultant. So, while there’s no doubt that consulting can be a highly rewarding career, it’s easy to see how this lifestyle could lead to burnout. 

As a veteran consultant with over 20 years of professional experience, I have learned a few techniques to manage stress and safeguard my well-being. Since 2013, I have been collecting seashells and using them for creative art projects. I use these to create everything from earrings to lampshades to floral-inspired ornaments. 

Hobbies are a valuable tool for all independent consultants who want to prevent burnout and increase their output. This is because hobbies can impact both internal drivers of efficiency, like multi-tasking, and external factors, such as networking and information collection. 

3 Reasons Hobbies Drive Productivity

1. Stay Focused

One major challenge for consultants is having lengthy assignments comprising relatively simple but repetitive tasks. They must also be capable of grasping large quantities of information in a short time. The key challenge here is staying focused throughout this process without losing motivation. Everyone has their individual tips for that, and mine is my seashell art.

The creation of my seashell art includes several sub-processes, some of which serve as background tasks. For example, I often listen to master classes, podcasts, and business news while doing the manual work of sorting seashells.

Manual and analytical work activate different parts of the brain and create synergies, helping extend focus time and stave off tiredness, making it easier to complete professional tasks. 

2. Drive Neuroplasticity 

Independent consultants are multi-role players, having to master every aspect of their consulting product. They must develop their unique branding, prepare reports and presentations, and conduct client follow-ups. 

Independent consultants must therefore develop a certain level of cognitive flexibility. The neurological base for this is the neuroplasticity of the brain, which is defined as the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experiences. A high degree of neuroplasticity has been linked with the ability to learn, adapt, and develop new skills

A creative hobby helps develop neuroplasticity, enabling the brain to switch between activities, subjects, and domains. It also requires divergent thinking, meaning that people often need to create multiple or alternative solutions to creative tasks. Since neuroplasticity also occurs at almost all levels of brain usage, the brain that is used to this process while doing a creative hobby can apply it in every circumstance. 

Once I decided to make a lamp of seashells, which required me to come up with a technical solution, as I needed to attach a lot of shells to a tiny surface such that it worked practically and visually. It was a new task for me and required a phase of trial and error. This challenge took hours to conquer. During this task, I recalled those long late-night brainstorming sessions for clients. In the end, I was able to succeed just as I did in past consulting projects. 

3. Improve Networking and Information Collecting Skills

Contrary to those employed by big firms, independent consultants need to sell themselves. That means devoting time and resources to building their personal brand for market visibility. Networking and relationship building plays an important role in the success of this pursuit. 

With a creative hobby, every new creation can be a topic for a post on a blog, social media account, or website. This can translate into new contacts who can act as a base for building a successful network

Last month, I had a client proposal and needed to conduct a quick survey of 1-2 women from the USA, 40+ house owners interested in natural health treatments. While thinking about how to approach this task, I was responding to a mail from one of my fans in the US complimenting my new seashell lamp. I quickly checked her Facebook profile and realized she was exactly who I needed, based on profile data and account postings. 

While thanking her for the feedback on my lamp, I asked if she was available for a short interview. I collected all data needed, plus had her offer more help and references whenever I wanted. 

Although it might seem contradictory at first, making time for activities outside of work may be key to success as an independent consultant. So, whether it’s to playing an instrument, doodling, or playing ping-pong, having a hobby will put consultants in a better position to be more productive and successful at work.

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