TCG 411: Pick Up a Summer Hobby

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

Summer is right around the corner and, hopefully, you’ll have a little extra time on your hands to get outside the office and enjoy the sun. But rather than while away your free days, take up a new hobby … it may even help your career. More than two-thirds of advertising and marketing executives interviewed by The Creative Group said employees who are passionate about interests outside the office typically perform better on the job.

Whether you enjoy crocheting or geocaching, here are some ways to make sure your outside interests complement your career:

  • Seek inspiration from the world around you. The concepts for some of the most interesting ideas have building blocks that come from outside the office. For example, in his book, Zing! Five Steps and 101 Tips for Creativity on Command, author Sam Harrison shares the story of how Paul McCartney came up with the name of his “Run Devil Run” CD. While in Atlanta for daughter Stella’s fashion show, Paul spent a free afternoon exploring the streets of downtown rather than sitting in front of the TV. He discovered a drugstore that stocked folk medicines and was fascinated with their catchy names, including the one that became the title of his album.

When on the hunt for inspiration, think about topics that draw you in. Are you passionate about nature? If so, join a hiking group. Do you like to cook? Consider offering your culinary skills at a local soup kitchen. While hiking or volunteering may not immediately lead to creative breakthroughs, it will supply your mind with new ideas that could inspire your work.

  • Is it inspiring or tiring? It’s important to feed your creativity by spending spare time on activities that excite you. Harrison suggests asking yourself if an activity is inspiring or tiring. If you find you’re simply going through the motions or sticking to what you know because it’s comfortable – like eating lunch at the same café every day or taking the same route to work – it may be time for a change.
  • Too much of a good thing. Are you spending hours scouring eBay for vintage t-shirts or watching Seinfeld reruns? While it’s possible one of George or Elaine’s witticisms will inspire a design concept, there’s a point where hobbies can take over your life. It’s important to differentiate between enthusiasm and obsession: If work seems to be “getting in the way” of your hobbies, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.

If, as Harrison says, you keep looking for ideas in the same old places, it’s time to shake things up. Indeed, a little fun outside of work can go a long way on the job.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at