By Sarah Marlor
When I was a university student, I had a drab outlook on how I spent my time. I spent too long ‘studying’ ineffectively (refreshing Facebook … re-reading the same paragraph of my textbook … reloading Instagram), and when I wasn’t studying I would complain about how much time I wasted studying. I was stuck in a nasty cycle of poor time management and boredom (and stress eating)!
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would wish most for a change in perspective. Yes, study deserves a big chunk of your focused attention, and part-time work is important if you have financial commitments, however, something I would be prescribing into my daily routine would be the inclusion of hobbies. Isn’t it interesting that when our calendars fill up, the first things to get the cut are often the activities that bring us the most joy!
Since graduating, and working in a number of full-time roles, I made a pact to myself to reengage with my interests, and use them as a way to encourage balance, and make sure that I had something to look forward to when I clocked off after a big day at the desk. I have realised that hobbies are not a distraction; rather, they allow us to walk away from what we are working on, and return with a fresh perspective … and some epic transferable skills up our sleeves too.
If you can learn from any of the blunders I made during my years at university – I encourage you to stay active in your passion projects. I let these slide, and I am only just making up for lost time now! I currently have a few favourite pastimes, and by sharing them, I will hopefully sway you in picking yours back up (or trying something new) as way to increase your hustle … or simply to learn a new skill!
Yoga = Mental Clarity
I know, how green-smoothie-drinking-Gen-Y of me! But seriously, I have gained so many nuggets of wisdom during my time on the mat, that I often carry into the workplace. My time spent in downward dog not only allows me to wash away the stress of the day, but I have also noticed a huge shift in my overall focus and discipline since practising regularly. When I skip a few too many classes, I notice my concentration and motivation in other aspects of my life starts to dwindle.
It is through showing up to regular classes, and pushing through – even when there is sweat dripping into my eyeballs, and I am contorted into a knot so tight that even the best game of Twister could not produce – I experience a heightened state of focus and willpower! It is through this practice of rising up, that I am able to walk into work feeling confident that I can take on difficult challenges thrown my way – and handle them with ease and grace.
Writing = Creativity
No matter what post-university career goal you have, creativity is a huge asset! Although my current role is not strictly creative in the traditional sense, I do notice that on daily basis I need to tap into an original and innovative way of thinking/behaving when it comes to solving problems and engaging with a wide range of people. I credit this ability to my love of writing!
In my downtime I am currently writing a book (again, is this very Gen Y of me?). Let me tell you, this is no easy feat! I often find myself writing a page of words, scrapping them, re-writing them, and reading them aloud to my housemate on what feels like an infinite loop. This process of channelling inspiration and stimulating creative thought is something that flows through me when I write, and it is something I now effortlessly tap into when I need to summon up inspired ideas or discussion in the workplace.
Cooking = Multitasking and Teamwork
In recent months, a close friend of mine and I have started taking part in weekly cooking ‘lessons’. By lessons, I mean that each Wednesday we pick a new recipe – something we have not made before, and dive right in, with the hopes of creating an edible masterpiece. Sometimes we nail it, and other times we are left with chunks of burnt, black nothingness and an empty stomach. Not only is this a great way to catch up with my friend on a weekly basis and (hopefully) eat some yummy and healthy food, but it has also been a wonderful exercise in juggling multiple elements at once!
Some recipes call for all four stove tops to be in action simultaneously, and through this magical and delicious chaos I have truly learned the meaning of ‘many hands make light work’. This sense of comradeship is something that extends far beyond the heat of the kitchen, and is a skill that I demonstrate on a daily basis in many areas across my life and work.
Whether I am challenging myself in warrior pose, exploding words onto a page, or having a laugh with a friend over a bowl of homemade gnocchi – I now see this time as restorative, and as an important way to encourage balance in my busy schedule. Taking the time to explore and develop my hobbies has also been an amazing way to build up the key skills that I carry into my role at work every.single.day.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to knit, play squash, learn to DJ, paint miniature toys, or grow a bonsai garden, but you have heard that nagging voice in your mind telling you it is a waste of time, or that it will eat into your study schedule. Stop that voice in its tracks! With the summer holidays in full swing – use this time to de-stress, realign, and reengage with the things you love!
Featured image courtesy of artistic-dreams.com