Australian adults are happiest when they’re pursuing a personal interest (95%), learning something new (90%) or challenging themselves (84%) accordingly to a recent Officeworks survey. Contrary to this, only one in five have made time for a passion project in the last month. Whether it’s a project you struggle to find time for day-to-day, a hobby that you once really enjoyed or something you’ve been inspired to try your hand at, Officeworks spokesperson and Wellness Expert Dr Paula Watkins from The Happiness Institute shares her tips on how to make time for the things you love:
1. Lighten your load
Between work, house duties, extra-curricular activities and social commitments – chances are there are items on your plate you don’t enjoy. It’s also likely some of them are optional. Talk with your family, friends and colleagues to help prioritise your commitments. You’ll end up having more time to pursue interests that make you happy, in turn making you more fun to be around – so it’s a win-win.
2. Use your breaks
Most Australians (53%) pursue their interests on weekends.; however think of all the breaks that exist in a normal workday. Lunch breaks, coffee runs or catching public transport all provide you with opportunities to take time out – it will help to boost your mood, attention and energy levels. Try going for a run, reading a book, listening to music or sketching a drawing.
3. Be prepared
A space in your schedule can open up when you least expect it. Almost 20% of us believe the reason we stop dedicating time to passion projects is because we don’t have access to the tools needed.. Be prepared so you can take advantage of every opportunity. Carry your camera with you, store a journal in your bag, keep a box of art supplies under your desk, tuck headphones in your pocket or leave a pair of running shoes at work.
4. Commute creatively
Commuting to and from work on public transport provides the perfect time to sit back, relax and set aside time for a project. Of course it might be unrealistic to create a scrapbook photo album or play your guitar on a train, but you can always use the time to source inspiration. Create a Pinterest board on your iPad, discover new artists on Spotify or read a magazine about your hobby. Even if you’re not van Gogh, drawing stimulates creative thinking. It’s also been shown to help reduce stress.
5. Include friends
With work commitments and home duties listed as the most common reasons for foregoing interests, finding the time to catch-up with loved ones is likely to be challenging. A simple solution is combining socialising with your passion – it enhances the feeling of connectedness. Instead of catching up for coffee, enroll in a dance class or go for a run. Identify friends who share the same interests as you and make a date of it.
6. Prioritise passions
A common mistake many of us make is over committing ourselves to various events and activities, leaving less time for the activities you care about most. To avoid spreading yourself too thin, try focusing your efforts on just one or two interests – remembering you can always revisit other projects later down the track. Alternatively, engage in a different activity each month to mix it up.
7. Pledge a commitment
Joining a club or engaging a coach to mentor you will do two things – motivate you to keep going back and challenge you to develop your skills even further. Group activities are also great tools to expand your social networks.
8. Involve the kids
Many of our hobbies begin in childhood, so share yours with the little people in your life. Childhood is all about learning and exposing your children to new activities helps their brain strengthen old connections and make new ones.
9. Make it work
With only 9% of Aussies admitting they’re very happy at work, it’s time to get creative and find ways to enhance your workplace. Instead of another office meeting, suggest a walk, or build staff members’ hobbies into team building activities and company retreats.
10. Gift that gives
Consider whether you can volunteer or become a coach as a way to stay connected to your passion. By committing your time to others, you’re more inclined to get out of work on time and prioritise it above other commitments. There is also nothing more rewarding than helping someone else enjoy the thing you’re most passionate about. Try tutoring in your chosen discipline or umpiring your favourite sport.