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We all need breaks from working to do things that we personally enjoy, but what if you were able to make your leisure time more productive?
Your pastimes don’t need to be a waste of time; you can use those hours to benefit you while still engaging in an activity that you enjoy. You just have to find the right hobbies!
Engaging in almost any hobby will be a more productive use of your time than watching reruns or scrolling through social media. So in this article, we are going to look at 15 hobbies in particular that are productive and will help you improve your career or help you with your lifelong success.
But first, let’s briefly talk about what qualifies a hobby as being productive.
What to Look For In a Productive Hobby
First, you need a hobby that you enjoy so you will commit some time to engaging in it and stick with it. Secondly, a productive hobby should be one that makes you think or teaches you about something new–and it doesn’t have to be relevant to what you do in your professional life–it just needs to encourage you to use new techniques or problem-solving skills.
A productive hobby may also involve using your creativity in practical ways. When you read through these examples, you will find that they can all stretch your brain in some way–give you a cognitive workout–while also exercising your creativity. This means that they require using both hemispheres of your brain to ensure you’re continuing to develop your analytical skills and problem-solving skills, as well as your emotional intelligence and creativity.
If you do this, you’ll notice measurable benefits in most (if not all) areas of your life.
Let’s look at some examples.
15 Productive Hobbies to Make You a Successful Person
1. Grow a Garden
Grow plants to succeed in your career? What?
It’s true. Aside from reducing stress–which is an important part of becoming successful in itself–gardening has also been linked to improved mental health outcomes, sharper observation skills, and even a decrease in loneliness.
Making good use of your own land to provide for your family’s nutritional needs is a very powerful skill to have. You can become self-reliant for food with just a little bit of yard space, sun, and water. And, the food you grow will be rich in natural vitamins and minerals because it won’t have to survive through the travel and time before getting into your system.
Watching your garden grow will help you feel successful and proud. Plus, who doesn’t love the taste of fresh produce? Pair this hobby with #15 and you will certainly feel productive.
Resource: Check out these vegetable garden tips for beginners.
2. Play Chess
Bring a little healthy competition into your life by playing the timeless game of chess. You will have fun as you give your brain a workout by strategizing your way to winning against your competitor. This is an easy hobby to get into because if you can’t find a friend who wants to play, you can play virtually with someone online somewhere else in the world.
Playing chess is productive because it will help you improve your analytical thinking skills, focus, and memory. And it will help you become successful in several ways–one of which is that chess players learn how to anticipate their opponent’s next moves. Doing so requires you to develop the ability to see another person’s perspective to be able to conclude which move they might make next.
Behavioral scientists say this ability to adopt someone else’s point of view is a critical part of building empathy and healthy social relationships, which is key to success in any venture.
Resource: Here is a beginner’s video to help you get started with learning how to play chess.
Meditation has become more commonplace in recent years–it’s no longer viewed as a practice that’s strictly for hippies. In fact, studies show that almost 18 million adults practice meditation on a regular basis, due to a growing body of research that shows mediation (and other focused awareness practices) can help people manage their physical pain and mental stress.
Practicing meditation can prepare you for success by expanding your awareness and helping you recognize all of the opportunities you have in life. And once you have your mind set on a goal, meditating will increase your chances of reaching it. Aside from reducing stress, anxiety, and negative feelings or frustrations surrounding your work, research shows that meditation can help you appreciate the positive aspects, improve your memory and capacity to learn, and help you concentrate, which are all important for reaching your goals in life.
Resource: Here are some great meditation podcasts that will help you get into this practice.
4. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language can certainly help you be successful in our society of economic globalization. This is a productive hobby because it will offer you a competitive edge in your career if you’re able to communicate with internal and external partners around the world.
But learning another language offers more benefits than just expanding your career. People who speak two or more languages have been found to have improved problem-solving skills, analytical skills, and have a greater ability to focus than people who only speak one language–and these traits can help you in any area of your life.
Knowing another language can also make your travel experiences richer, as you can communicate with locals and gain cultural knowledge first-hand.
Resource: Check out these resources that will help you learn a new language.
Running is obviously a productive hobby if you’re seeking to improve your health, but how can running make you successful in your professional life? I’ll give you my take from personal experience.
Running teaches you that you–and only you–control your attitude, which then controls your actions. Starting with just getting up early and having the willpower to get out of bed (despite the weather) and go for a run requires an “I can” attitude. And not just “I can do this, despite the fact I’m tired, cold, etc.” But I physically can do this, which is a gift in itself and likely won’t be one that lasts forever. So if I have the physical ability to get up and run before work, I’m going to take advantage of it and be grateful.
Running also teaches you how to compete…against yourself. You may be aiming to beat a personal record or meet goals that you’ve created for long-term growth, or you may simply be competing with the voice in your head telling you that the last mile isn’t worth it or you should stay in bed, you need your rest. No matter what the basis is of your competition from within, running will give you great practice for sharpening the skills of the competitor in you that values success.
Running has also taught me how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That first half mile on a cold January morning can be brutal, but if you can get over that hump and keep moving, you’ll find mental comfort in the fact that you will get in your normal routine (with pace/breathing) soon enough. This is like when you start a new job and everything seems so hard at first. Then, six months in, you’re able to help out with training the new hires because you’ve found your routine. You just have to get over that initial barrier of discomfort to get where you want to be.
I could go on…for a long time. But for the sake of this article, I’ll sum up by saying successful runners aren’t those who are comparing their times and abilities against others. They’re those who can appreciate other people’s running hobbies, but who ultimately only measure themselves against their own unique standards. This is an important facet of success in other areas of your life. Successful people are those who want to become the best version of themselves, and have the mental strength to overcome temptations of instant gratification to achieve their bigger picture of success.
Resource: Here is a guide for beginner runners to help you get started.
6. Create Vision Boards
Creating vision boards will help you succeed in all areas of your life. This is a productive and creative hobby that will result in a daily reminder of your goals for the future, which will keep you motivated and help you continue to work toward them.
And, as it turns out, visualizing your success works! One study found that 82% of small business owners who used a vision board to achieve their goals reported that they accomplished more than 50% the goals they pictured on their original board.
This is a fun hobby that you can’t really get wrong. You can either do one big vision board for all areas of your life or you can do separate vision boards for your health goals, your professional goals, your relationship goals, etc.
Resources: If you’re new to vision boards, here is a good “how to” article, and these templates are helpful if you don’t know where to start.
Being productive is all about making the best use of your time. If you think you’re short on time, research shows that volunteering will actually help you feel otherwise. According to the study, using your time to help organizations that you care about will help you feel more “time affluent” and less rushed than when you:
Unlike when you are solely focused on your own life, volunteering can give you a sense of confidence, and make you feel very useful. Furthermore, it will help you feel like you’ve accomplished something and help you feel certain that you can accomplish more in the future.
So spending your time volunteering can make you feel less restricted with time, more productive, and of course it can help you be successful in several ways. Volunteering can:
Volunteering also helps you be more successful in your personal life. The socialization factor of this hobby helps fight symptoms of loneliness and depression, and it can help you feel a bigger sense of purpose in your life.
Resource: This website will help you find volunteer opportunities in your area.
8. Go Hiking
If you love nature and being active, hiking is a great hobby that will allow you to enjoy both.
Research shows that when you go hiking, you’re able to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, which can improve your creativity and problem-solving abilities.
The massive amount of technology and noise that we experience in our everyday lives constantly disrupts our thoughts and demands our attention, which exhausts our cognitive functions. So, when you’re overwhelmed with your everyday routine, going hiking can offer a huge relief by reducing mental fatigue and soothing your mind. This makes hiking a productive hobby, as you’re getting your mind and body ready to tackle upcoming projects.
Resource: Here is a guide to help you get started with this hobby.
9. Practice Yoga
Yoga isn’t just about moving your body into specific and intricate poses, this practice also strengthens your mind. More and more business organizations are realizing that practicing yoga is an effective way to create more productive, efficient, and enthusiastic employees, which leads to a better bottom line.
Yoga is a productive hobby because it encourages you to disregard external thoughts or stimuli to create space to focus exclusively on your mind, body, and breath.
Having this laser-focused mindset on improving yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, will help you be more prepared and productive while you’re working.
Resource: Here is a beginner’s guide to yoga.
10. Start a Side Hustle
Want to turn something you love into something that can make you some extra cash? Take one of your current hobbies (or start a new one) and monetize it! This will help you diversify your income sources, which will give you a bit more financial stability. If you spend some time focusing on increasing your earning potential by having multiple sources of income, it can help you become more self-reliant.
Starting a side hustle could end up making you independently successful if you’re able to turn your business into your primary income source. There are tons of stories online of people who started a side hustle because they figured they could earn some extra cash by doing what they loved to do, which then turned into their full-time gig.
Are you crafty? Or artistic? Work on perfecting your passion so you can diversify your success.
Resource: Here is a list of hobbies that you can monetize.
If reading is one of your hobbies, it means you’re in a constant pursuit of knowledge and growth, because reading and learning go hand in hand. If you read the right things (which doesn’t mean reading your favorite fiction novel over and over), you will automatically and naturally become more informed, healthier, happier, and more successful as a result of this pastime
According to Thomas Corley, a well-known authority on the topics of success and building wealth, successful people read for self-improvement, to learn, and to supplement their current knowledge and success, while those who have experienced lower levels of success read primarily to be entertained.
This is because successful people view reading as the one thing standing in between themselves and infinite knowledge. This means that successful people read books that are geared toward being successful to continuously improve their own lives.
Because, if you’re not learning anything useful, how do you expect to grow?
Resource: Follow these seven steps to make reading a lifelong habit.
You don’t need to be a professional to get the benefits from writing. Even if you just write in a journal, it can help you think positively and reaffirm your wishes for your future on paper, which is helpful in visualizing yourself achieving your life goals and turning your dreams into a reality. Writing in the form of journaling can give you the foundation for success that you need to help you build a mindset that brings your vision within reach.
But writing for others is also a great key to success, and is certainly a great hobby to help you find your voice. When you practice writing with clarity, honesty, and modesty on a regular basis, it will enhance your communication skills and your ability to cultivate authentic connections with others. And to be successful, you need to be able to “win over” people in a way that makes them want to work with you instead of against you.
Successful people can inspire and influence readers by offering their unique perspectives or new ideas. Success is hard to come by if you’re not able to inspire other people in some way, as it takes a compelling person to incite lasting, positive change.
There are several ways you can pursue a writing habit to make you a successful person, such as:
Resource: Reading this article will help you with building your daily writing habit.
13. Take a Class Online
Learning is always a productive hobby that will increase your success in any area of your life. And with the internet at your fingertips, you can have a structured learning experience without having to leave your living room.
Online classes are convenient to take, and it has become more commonplace than ever to learn on your own schedule through online programs. There is an online class for pretty much anything you may be interested in (and you can always do your own research instead of or in addition to taking a formal class).
There are a lot of online learning platforms, such as Coursera, Skillshare, and Udemy, that offer thousands of instructor-led courses, some of which are free. Signing up for a course typically offers you access to supplemental materials that are only available to students.
Lifelong learning is a productive hobby that will always be a great option to help you succeed and grow in any of your endeavors.
Resources: Here are 37 free Udemy courses for personal development that will help you succeed both personally and professionally.
14. Learn About Investing
Learning about investing is a productive way to take control of your financial success. If you can turn investing into a hobby, you can have fun while growing and diversifying your portfolio.
By learning about smart ways to invest or save your money, you will be setting yourself up for financial success. And, while this topic may sound dull or confusing at first, once you start to learn the basics about investing, you will likely find that you enjoy the challenge that comes along with it and the sense of satisfaction you get when you make a good financial decision.
Resource: There are plenty of podcasts about personal finance that you can listen to in order to get started with this hobby.
15. Learn to Cook
There are a lot of benefits to taking up a cooking hobby, aside from just saving money and eating a healthier diet. You will also be practicing some unique planning and preparation skills while positively contributing to the health and wellbeing of your family. Cooking is one hobby that not only requires focus, but also the ability to effectively multitask to see the process through from beginning to end.
Cooking is a great way to express your creative side–as you get to make all of the choices! You can see the impact that your small changes have on the outcome of a dish and experiment through trial and error. You’ll need to use your science, math, and critical thinking skills, so get ready to put those lessons from grade school to good use!
Learning to cook can also improve the success of your relationship. Many couples find that actively learning new skills together is an effective way to strengthen their bond. And, if you’re both starting from scratch, then you will be putting yourselves out there together by trying something new and challenging with each other.
In the long run, learning how to cook can offer significant benefits if you want to make the most of your personal and professional lives. Once you get into this hobby, you’ll have a great new social opportunity to make use of. You’ll be able to use your skills to help create healthier habits that are less expensive than picking up take-out every night. And you’ll certainly gain the respect of those around you, which can help you in any realm of your life.
Final Thoughts on Productive Hobbies to Make You a Successful Person
No matter which of the hobbies listed in this article you choose to pursue, it will make a positive impact on your life and your future in some way. While the relationship between some of these hobbies and your success may not seem directly related, all of these hobbies help you hone the skills that are vital to success, no matter what you do for a living or what your passion is.
Take one or two of these hobbies on and see where it takes you.
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.