As a careerist or entrepreneur your business life can be all-consuming and the to-do list probably gets longer by the hour, especially as you grow and evolve into more senior roles or faster growing businesses.
However, it is also true that being a full-time workaholic is not going to be the best way to keep your business healthy, let alone you. Executive burn out costs businesses big time. According to a 2015 report by Comcare, during 2013-14 mental stress claims accounted for 16 per cent of all workers compensation claims and 37 per cent of total claim costs, with an average total cost per claim of $342,000. However, the most enduring leaders out there have proven that spending hours working and not much else is a recipe for longer term problems, especially once your home life become blended, your exercise patterns become non-existent and your brain really never gets chance to switch off from the grind.
I have rediscovered my love of long distance running, non-fiction writing and collecting contemporary art recently – something I did for years all the time, long before I ran my PR agency and had a husband and two little kids to care for. It has made me not only feel better, more energised inside, but actually reignited fresh ideas and creative focus into my business operations without me even realising it.
Hobbies or interests away from the desk are really important to our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our productivity, focus, and general social value to others. The late Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was famous for his walking meetings – where many of his best product ideas came to the fore he later claimed such as the iPod – rather than stuck seated inside at a lab or Apple office facility. It is a common theme too.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a keen golfer, Sir Richard Branson’s favourite sport is kite boarding, and investor Warren Buffett plays online bridge. Great examples of game changers using their free time to simply do what they enjoy.
Five proven ways to get your over-active business mind away from the meeting room and into the recharge zone are:
1 – Discover your favourite old hobby again: Think about you used to love doing before you got too busy with your career or business plans. It could be fishing, Pilates, skiing in the winter or surfing in the summer. Hiking, kayaking, painting, singing, dancing– whatever it may be, do it again and make a weekly slot for it.
2 – Go for a walk: That may not sound much like a hobby does it? But it can be. If you make it a point every day to take at least one 10 to 60 minute walk it will turn into something you won’t want to stop doing – and your health will get a massive boost. When the weather is warm, enjoy it as much as you can. It’s also a free activity that you can do when you’re anywhere!
3 – Volunteer your time: Spending time volunteering or actively supporting a cause is really important way to spend your time that has a 100% feel-good value. When you are supporting a local or global cause or organisation that is important to you, your mind will be focused on what you can do next to help them. This is one of the best win-win hobbies to have because not only are you aiding in your own well-being but you are making your community better as a whole. Since 2010, I have run marathons for health-related causes close to my heart, and fundraised $10,000 in my local school community and the personal benefits are ten-fold.
4 – Get creative: Let’s be clear – we aren’t talking about creating a new business plan or crafting a designer CV. Jump outside of the box and play. Ever want to write a sci-fi fantasy book? Start it. Want to finish that photo essay of your holiday you started last year? Do it. Love music? Never too late to learn the piano or sing in a group. Whatever creative activity really gets you going, focus your energies on that for a while. Adult colouring-in books are the latest craze for a good reason. They are reminding us how easy it is to get creative and it’s great for harnessing mindfulness.
5 – Learn something new: It is always fun to be a student especially when you are doing it for the heck of it. Find a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about and then read as much as you can on it or do a short course, with plenty of options now online if time is an issue. Teach yourself something new and you never know where it could take you.
Whatever pasttime you choose, getting your mind off of your day-to-day business demands can really reboot you and get you enjoying being at work more.