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20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier

20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier
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Everyone needs a hobby, as the old saying goes. Hobbies help develop our tastes and our passions in life – they can be as diverse as gardening, cooking, writing, skydiving, stand up comedy and sewing to name but a few.

However, very few are ever considered as productive hobbies, unless you happen to belong to one of those rare few lucky people who manage to turn their hobby into a second job… or who manage to utilise the skills they built in their hobby in their work to become more productive, efficient, and happier.

So, if you’re looking to pick up a new hobby and develop some skills that will help you enhance your proficiency and productivity, then check out this list of productive hobbies you could consider picking up, and their benefits:

1. Cooking

Cooking is one of the most productive hobbies out there, and something everyone should consider trying their hand at.

Cooking forces you to be in the moment, focusing entirely on the product and processes at hand. It also forces you to plan ahead.

As a bonus, with practice, you’ll get really good at preparing and making food in advance for the days ahead, meaning you’re being even more productive than you realized.

This article is great for anyone who’s trying to start cooking: Cooking 101: 20 Lessons to kick start your cooking skill

2. Hiking

Hiking is one of those quintessential ‘weekend’ hobbies, for people with a passion for long treks and experiencing the beauty of nature.

Studies have shown how hiking can benefit our brains. They can also have a beneficial effect upon your productivity, as hiking allows you to clear your mind of all worries and focus on the present, as well as providing you with exercise to improve physical fitness and stamina.

3. Painting

Painting may not seem like a particularly productive hobby, but it can lend some wonderful perspective on your life and can help unleash your creative side.

Painting allows you to tap into the thoughts, desires, and feelings swimming around in your head, and can help translate them into something physical.

Your painting might even inspire you to be more productive in the workplace, so go ahead and pick up a paintbrush.

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4. Sculpture

While few of us may be at the standard of sculptors such as Michelangelo or Rodin, sculpture, even in its most basic forms, can be a productive hobby and tool.

Sculpture at its very nature behooves you to create with the materials you have, and to be mindful of what you’re creating, even if it takes many tiny steps at a time.

Sculpture also gives you something at the very end of it – it might not be the kind of art or sculpture created by masters, but it’s still tangible, and it’s yours, and truly authentic because of that very fact.

5. Writing

One of the most productive hobbies to have is to write in your spare time. Writing is an incredibly powerful and important form of self-expression and it can help to channel your energies into something which you feel passionate about and in which you can pour your thoughts, dreams, and desires.

Whether it’s writing articles, plays, radio scripts or diary entries, writing helps unlock your creative side, and helps you be as productive and healthy as possible.

To kickstart writing, you don’t need to write a lot of words, try writing journal, or just write 750 words a day: Kickstart Your Creativity By Writing 750 Words a Day

6. Running

Running is the go-to relaxation-slash-exercise sport activity for a significant amount of the population. However, it also allows productive benefits and is one of the most productive hobbies out there.

Running not only improves your fitness levels, it can help with any kind of mental block by teaching you how to push through those same kind of mental barriers and obstructions, that are causing you delay.

Download one of these running apps to help you keep track of your running progress. For running beginners, this is a nice guide to check out: Running for Beginners

7. Dancing

Dancing isn’t really considered to be a hugely important hobby in terms of productivity. However, when you examine the hard work and dedication that is undeniable in the art of dance, it starts to become clearer in terms of productivity merit.

Dancing forces you to learn routines obsessively, training your focus into a series of practised movements, and using that as a template for achieving productivity in the minutiae of your daily life is something well worth considering.

8. Yoga

Yoga is one of the most productive hobbies you can fit into your schedule, as it allows you to close off all external thoughts and focus entirely on your bodily practice.

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You focus strongly and single-mindedly on improving your body and physical fitness, as well as emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and you’ll be well prepared and more productive for the future.

You can try out yoga easily even at home: Yoga Poses For Beginners To Achieve A Detoxed And Healthy Body In 7 Days

9. Meditating

Meditation has great recharging capacity. It improves focus and memory. You will be energetic throughout a day just by making as little time as 5 minutes a day to meditate.

Meditation is also the best stress reliever that helps to calm your thoughts and emotions.

You can simply kickstart meditating with this guide: The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day)

10. Reading

Reading is one of the world’s most popular pursuits and pasttimes, and with good reason. There’re many benefits of reading.

It is also an extremely productive hobby as it can be done easily during your downtime and ’empty time’ in which you are doing nothing.

Reading research and studies about productivity, can in turn make you learn new habits, behaviours, and patterns that will make you be more effective with your time.

In short: reading can be productive by allowing you to read up on how to be productive.

11. Playing Video Games

Sure, playing video games might seem like a waste of time, but the roles and rules inherent within video games can actually make you more productive.

Video games encourage focus, determination, trying again and again even if you fail the first time around, teamwork, and cooperation. These are all useful and admirable traits that will make anyone more driven and productive at work.

12. Gardening

Is there anything more inherently relaxing, at least in theory, than gardening?

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Gardening is not only a pleasant and relaxing pastime, it’s also a fantastic way to boost your productivity.

How?

Gardening allows you to relax and unwind, conserving your energies for the frantic days ahead you might have. It also teaches you about managing different projects (or in this case plants) all at the same time.

13. Knitting

Knitting is usually considered to be something that the elderly and the niche of Hollywood celebrities like doing, but knitters circle the world – and for good reason.

Knitting is, aside from an enjoyable pastime and a way to craft a perfect gift for someone you love, a fantastic tool for enhancing productivity. It uses the same multi-tasking and planning skills that a modern day workplace will utilise, and it promises a physical, tangible end product to your endeavours.

What’s more, science says knitting makes you mentally happier and warmer.

14. Woodwork

Woodwork is a surprisingly productive hobby due to the fact that you have to focus hard on your singular vision of what you wish to build.

Constructing something of your own out of wood – whether it’s a shelf, a spice rack, or even something more complex or beautiful – can be a wonderful boost to your self esteem, and building yourself the materials you need to help make your life easier, will, in turn, make you more productive and happier as a result.

15. Playing Poker

Playing poker may not seem like a particularly productive hobby, but it’s certainly one of the most challenging and mind-stretching card games to play.

Poker allows your mind to both unwind and practice its logical and strategic muscles in a way that can help you make those important decisions and focus on those all-important goals on your workplace.

16. Acting

Treading the boards at your local dramatic venue might not seem like the sure-fire way to enhance your productivity muscles, but acting as a productive hobby is not to be sniffed at.

Acting forces you to reawaken those memorization abilities you might have previously otherwise forgotten, and awakens creative talents such as improvisation and the ability to think on your feet in a crisis, making you calmer under pressure, and more productive and competent as a result.

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17. Amateur Radio

Amateur radio isn’t a very popular pastime, otherwise everyone would have their own radio show or podcast on iTunes. However, aside from being a great way to express your opinions and develop some public speaking chops, amateur radio can be extremely productive.

When writing, performing, editing and producing amateur radio, you learn about working with deadlines, developing creative ideas and storylines, and how to do your best work in a sharp, creative burst of time – all talents and skills that will help you be at your productive best.

18. Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding might not seem like a particularly mainstream or productive hobby; after all, unless you’re a particularly enthusiastic gym bunny, you might have had little to no contact with the practice.

However, bodybuilding focuses on building up core strength, control, self-discipline and focusing on a key, singular vision – all key practices which could prove to be extremely relevant and transferable in terms of productivity in other areas of your life.

For bodybuilding beginners, here’re some tips for you: 15 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners

19. Swimming

Swimming is relaxing, strengthening and an extremely positive and healthy way of exercising. It’s also a beneficial way of becoming more productive.

Swimming can help channel all worries into something productive, clear the mind for more positive action and thoughts, and can make you feel more energized leaving the pool after a hearty workout.

Swimming has been shown to have numerous physiological and psychological health benefits, so there’s no reason not to head to your local pool.

20. Daydreaming

Okay, so maybe this last one isn’t what is technically considered to be a ‘hobby’, but it still has plenty of benefits when practiced regularly and will make you more productive if used correctly.

Daydreaming awakens your creative side and allows you to explore ideas that you never even considered – even ideas that might just prove to be the solution you’ve been after.

If daydreaming leads to napping, that’s even better – studies have shown that a quick 20 minute nap in the afternoon can help provide clarity, memory retention, and help make you even more focused and productive with your batteries recharged.

More About Everyday Productivity

Featured photo credit: Roman Kraft via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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