While some may view hobbies as a distraction, or a time suck the reality is that the healthy distraction may just make you more focused when you go back to work. The mind is not unlike the body in that it needs breaks. It needs to be free to create and enjoy things that don’t require “work”.
Google started this notion with their “20 percent rule” where employees worked on hobbies for 20 percent of the time. Google learned that employees were more efficient in the remaining 80 percent, when given freedom in the 20 percent. Years later, San Francisco State measured the effect of hobbies on 400 employees and found that those employees with a hobby were more likely to exhibit better job performance.
Back to the brain. Just like any other muscle in our bodies, the brain needs recovery as well. Just as we can overstress our muscles, the brain gets overstressed too. Psychological recovery is the key to brain recovery and evidence shows that side projects and hobbies nurture a more creative use of downtime allowing the brain to rest and recover.
The next time you pick up that book or model airplane, do it knowing that you are fostering much needed recovery. You can look forward to increased performance on the other side.