It’s Monday again. Back to work. Not everyone loves their work, but I’ve discovered a useful secret that will help you get through the week. If you do things you love outside of work, Monday to Friday becomes a lot more bearable. An alternate focus can give you perspective and something to be excited about on a daily basis, even if you’re only dedicating an hour a day or less to it.
I love lots of things outside of work but a list that has long made up some of my favourite ways to spend my non working hours includes: friends, food, traveling, reading, writing, flowers, gardening, tennis, dance.
This year, I’ve been good about deciding which of these to prioritize and it has brought me a huge amount of joy. Take flowers and gardening. A month ago I did the flowers for a friend’s wedding. I loved the creative process of working with the bride to understand what kind of experience she wanted her wedding to be and how the flowers could help create it. Then I had to conceptualize what flowers would be needed, plan where I would get them from and how to keep them alive, and finally how to put them together in a way that wouldn’t ruin THE MOST IMPORTANT day in my friend’s life to date.
This kind of activity is what Kevan Lee describes as a ‘side project’ as opposed to a ‘hobby’, in the Fast Company article How Creative Hobbies Make Us Better At Basically Everything. It has a defined product and outcome, whereas hobbies are more of an ongoing interest – repeatable enjoyable activities with no time pressure.
Dedicating time to a side project can be really rewarding. With the wedding flowers, the bride and groom were extremely grateful, but I really felt like the experience had done more for my happiness than for theirs.
Being able to differentiate between projects and hobbies has been really useful for me. While I loved doing the flowers, I couldn’t do something like that every week as it would be a second full time job. Before this revelation, I had a tendency to want to treat all the interests I had outside of work as side projects, instead of casual hobbies. This is way too overwhelming and you’ll end up feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing. Now, I’m happy doing larger projects, like wedding flowers, from time to time and tending to my tomatoes (my less intensive gardening hobby) on a regular basis.
What do you love outside of work? Can you make it into a side project with a mini goal? Or is it better off as a hobby? Either way, identify your list of creative loves and plan to dedicate time to them. It will be your sideline of joy during the work week, I promise!