Searching for Hobbies

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

It’s very easy to spend time focusing on work. It has a tangible reward – income! It provides an emotional response – we might love it or hate it (or even just feel meh about it). And, for many, it defines who we are.1

I’ve been taking stock, and have realised that I need to add some more variety to my days. I do my work, I look after my kids, and despite us sometimes being ships passing in the night, I share time with my wife. What has gone missing though, is a third interest. What else can I do? How else can I bring some interest, variety and further meaning to my life?

I don’t want to be passing time here on our earth, responsibly moving projects and tasks forward without having some fun and spontaneity along the way.

It’s clear what my answer must be – I need to find some hobbies!

Ideally, these hobbies will stretch me out of my comfort zone. While I have always been enjoyed technology and basketball, I should move outside these domains to see if I can find something else that is fun and different.

I’ve drafted a list of ideas, with ideas ranging from board games to cooking. I plan on experimenting across a range of areas to see if anything grabs me. And because you can’t manage what you don’t measure, I will try to keep a journal in Day One to track any major hobby events and record my thoughts and impressions of things I try.

I hope I find a new and interesting activity to engage with, but even if I don’t, it will be an interesting life experiment.


  1. This concept of work defining who we are is particularly weird. The work we produce is a product, not a state of being. By defining ourselves by our work we are limiting our potential. The work we do should be a combined result of our skills, traits and personality. The work is achieved because of who we are; it is not who we are.

    Have I just buried the lede in this footnote? 

Take Time to Breathe

Life can get overwhelming. Work to do, dinners to cook, kids to care for, relationships to tend. Trying to do it all can be fatiguing. I have found this to be particularly true over this current long school holiday break, where the presence of children and their needs are incessant, but the other parts of life still need to be managed.

Trying to balance it all is not easy, and I don’t believe there is any magic bullet that will solve it all. There are only ever going to be 24 hours in a day. So I think the best response to the pressure comes down to 3 main things1:

  1. Scheduling: maximising the efficient use of time.
  2. Accepting: there’s no such thing as perfection.
  3. Breathing: maintaining mental health through awareness of the bigger picture.

Scheduling

Planning and scheduling can ease the mental burden. By making an agreement with yourself to do certain things at specified times there is clear evidence that time is being utilised to effect and things are getting done. At these times there is no need to worry about all the other things that aren’t getting done in the moment because at least you are doing something.

Personally this year I am trying to improve the structure of my scheduling. I am establishing days as either internal or external. Internal days are dedicated to working on the tasks I have recorded in OmniFocus, following the general Getting Things Done approach to task management. I will also use this time for internal meetings, planning and the like. External days will be available for me to get out on the road, visiting clients, following up business development opportunities, and networking.

I have taken my management of External days one step further by setting up a Calendly account. This service allows me to permit clients to book meetings with me directly, subject to my availability. Calendly knows the days I have set as External, and it knows when the slots I have made available are taken up, preventing them from being double-booked. Much time and effort was wasted last year mucking about with the to and fro of trying to coordinate meeting dates, so I hope this more automated approach will ease the burden.

Accepting

I am the type of person that wants everything to go just as according to plan. Of course, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. I have to accept the foibles of humanity and roll with the punches when things don’t go the way I wanted.

This is why planning methodology has moved away from ‘waterfall’ to ‘agile’ — because nothing works as intended, so change the plan rather than pretending that perfection is about to occur.

Breathing

In the chase for productivity at the micro-level, it is easy to lose context. Really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s highly likely that none of what we are doing actually matters that much. Now, this is not me promoting nihilism, because what we do does matter to those in our circles. What I am saying is that there are going to be few times where there is not sufficient slack in the timeline to pause; to take a time-out. In this moment, breathe.

Go outside, take a walk, talk to a friend, pray, meditate — just do something different and unrelated to the task. Taking a break will freshen the mind and offer an opportunity to perceive that larger context. The thing that was causing stress may suddenly not seem quite so significant afterwards.

Ultimately, having a sound and stable mind will allow a focus on scheduling and facilitate acceptance of what can and cannot be achieved. It’s a virtuous circle.


  1. Because any good list worth it’s salt has 3 things. Not 2, not 4. Three.