How to Stay Focused at Work When You Have Other Passions
Let’s be real for a second—everyone has “other passions.” No matter how much you love your job, consider it your “dream career,” or delight in your professional tasks, you will eventually encounter other hobbies, interests, and aspects of life that threaten to take time and concentration from your job job. What to do? Abandon your crafting dreams and focus solely on office projects? Or come in late to work because you stayed up all night researching backpacking routes? Whatever your other passions are, you can balance them with work. It just takes a little strategic time-management.
Strategy #1: Compartmentalize your time.
This may sound obvious, but compartmentalization is easier said than done when you feel passionate about a hobby or interest outside of your job. Heading to the office every day pays the rent and bills, so you can’t just quit. But you need to make time for your hobbies, too. One way to do this is by doubling-down on your scheduling, whether it’s in a cute annual planner or on a calendar app. Set aside time for work—just work, the work that makes money. And then set aside dedicated time for biking, surfing, crafting cocktails, baking…whatever your interest may be.
The key to compartmentalizing your time in order to improve focus is keeping the compartments very, very separate. When you’re on work time, it’s work time. You’re not browsing for supplies online, dreaming up a new project, or texting your friends to make plans. But when you head home to dive into reupholstering furniture, that’s when you turn off your work phone and redirect your full attention to the new task at hand. That way, you can devote your full brain and heart to work while you’re working, and give your whole self to your passions—during the time set aside for that passion.
It might be a full Saturday or just thirty minutes each weeknight, but you will find that you do have time for your interests, especially if you schedule it and don’t get caught up in time-sucking tasks like scrolling social media, clicking through Netflix, or just lounging on the couch. Better yet, schedule time in three different chunks: work, passions, and relaxation. That way, you can be extra productive on both the work and interest fronts, and allow yourself the relaxation you deserve.
Strategy #2: Weave your passions into your work.
So, you tried compartmentalizing, and you still don’t feel focused at work. While you’re supposed to be running reports and acting present in meetings, your mind wanders wildly between your various projects and interests. This can be such a frustrating feeling!
Instead of settling into resentment towards your workplace, supervisor, or even your coworkers, be strategic. Block out a few minutes to have a hard thinking session about the ways in which you can merge your passions with your work. If you’re a fitness junkie, can you offer group yoga classes at your office during the lunch hour? If you can’t stop thinking about landscaping, can you add some plants to your office space? Whether you’re a writer, public speaker, researcher, or have other academic interests at home, talk to your supervisor about weaving some of those talents and interests into your job duties. Can you write a team newsletter? Compose some new email templates? Plan and host an office-wide hike, potluck, or retreat?
Work and home life do not have to be kept completely separate. Your workplace did, of course, hire you. The whole you. Including all of your talents, gifts, interests and passions! If you can find a way to turn your hobbies into added value for your company or organization, go for it! That way, work will feel less like an unwanted obligation and more like one of many places you go to do the work you love—that which is meaningful, diverse, energizing, and productive—all at once.