Get a hobby and improve your work skills

You might think you don’t have time to enjoy hobbies but think again.

hobby man guitarHobbies can do more for you than provide a little fun in your free time. An article by Kathleen Harris in the March issue of Real Simple magazine looks at how five hobbies can help you hone specific career skills.

1. Do you stress out when a retailer calls with a complaint? If so, start practicing music in your free time.

“Engaging in an ongoing creative activity, like learning to play an instrument, helps people manage negative feelings like stress,” the article says, citing research from The American Journal of Public Health. “Cognitive research says that adults can learn to play an instrument at any age. …Or join a choir. Study after study shows the benefits of singing—from releasing endorphins to strengthening the immune system.”

2. Do you struggle with public speaking or when explaining your product? If so, take a creative writing class.

“The best public speakers tell the best stories,” Harris writes. “Finesse your storytelling skills by taking a creative writing class, where you’ll learn the art of crafting narratives.”

3. Would you like to move into management? If so, join a sports team.

Being on a team—basketball, soccer, softball, lacrosse—helps improve leadership skills because you’re working toward a common goal.

4. Do you feel you can’t get everything on your to-do list done? If so, join a cooking or recipe club.

“Cooking for a dinner party or recipe club, in which you meet monthly to swap recipes and taste one another’s creations, can improve your time management skills,” Harris writes. Having to create menus, shop, prep and cook forces you to focus on getting a lot done in a short period of time and helps you to become more efficient.

5. Do you want to map out a new strategic vision for your company? Do you want to plan a new marketing campaign? If so, make time for video games.

“Any game that promotes complex thinking, where you need to map out your next few moves, can help you develop thinking and reasoning skills,” clinical psychologist Richard Shuster tells Real Simple. Video games also can reduce stress by allowing people to unwind and focus intently on something other than what’s bothering them.