Hobbies vs. Work

Treat your hobbies as work and your work as a hobby.

It’s another conversation-starter! This phrase encapsulates something of the way I approach life. In the things I enjoy doing, I tend to discipline myself in much the same way that work is disciplined. I set mental deadlines, put aside time that is only for that activity, beat myself up when I don’t do enough of it… Conversely, in my university or school work I’ve always looked for the aspect of it that I enjoy, and when I’ve failed to find it I’ve usually ended up not doing the task.

This isn’t something I necessarily do consciously. It’s the way that my brain deals with things that I want or need to do. Unless I enjoy an activity, I won’t do it (or at least, not very well!), so in order to complete necessary tasks I have to change my mindset to one which views them as fun. Often this happens when my imagination kicks in – so reading books for university suddenly becomes exciting research for potential stories, or tidying my room becomes a quest for an ancient item of magical power in a hostile wizard’s workshop…

My hobbies, of course, I already find fun. However, in most of them I have a drive to improve which outstrips the level of progress I’d get just from doing them when I feel like it. So I push myself to do them even when I don’t particularly want to – although usually I do end up having fun once I get past the pain barrier! For instance, I schedule evenings when I promise myself that I will go climbing, even if I’m tired and it’s a long cold walk to the wall. Obviously, artwork is another example – in order to see the improvement I want from it, I have to practice, and so I put it on my to-do list alongside finishing my latest essay for uni.

I think part of this tendency to ‘work-ify’ my hobbies has to do with the way in which I won’t allow myself to just do things for fun while I still have work-related things in the pipeline. Given that I can almost invariably find something to do related to my university degree or other mundane job, this could result in perpetual feelings of guilt and/or no time spent doing the other things I enjoy. Raising my hobbies to the same priority level as work allows me to do them without feeling the constant tug of what I ‘should’ be doing. Mostly. Of course, it can also make me feel guilty regardless of which activity I’m doing, because I could always be doing another one!

This method seems to me to be both positive (I get lots of stuff done, including the things I love) and negative (I can end up feeling overwhelmed by all the things that I *have* to do each day).

What do you think? Does anyone else out there share this? Or do you think I’m just hopelessly obsessive? Let me know your approach to the work/hobbies balance =D

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