Lady Cooking in Kitchen

Budget-Friendly Hobbies For After You Clock Out Of Work

When it comes to working a standard 9-5 job, life can quickly feel very routine and repetitive. We often find ourselves craving something more, but where do we start? So often when it comes to spicing up our lives with some new hobbies or activities, the financial burden of it all can pose as a major roadblock, however, there are plenty of budget-friendly activities that the average individual could easily invest their free time in as a means of enjoying life outside the office and home.

Cooking is one of the easiest hobbies to get into. Obviously we all need to eat, but in an age where we can access any meal we want in a matter of seconds and have it hand delivered to us all thanks to an app, has made cooking seem like a mundane activity, but it shouldn’t be! Instead of using your phone’s to order a meal and spending money that could otherwise be saved, use it to follow one of the countless cooking tutorial pages available on social media apps such as Instagram or YouTube. Cooking can also be done on a budget if you keep up with your local grocery store sales and use the internet to specifically search for recipes involving this week’s best sale items. 

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Botany is the study of plants, and before you roll your eyes at the thought of studying the exciting world of vegetation, just hear me out. Not only do houseplants add an earthy and bohemian element to any space, they also provide a direct source of clean air and require you to utilize the areas of your home that bring in the most sunlight, promoting a sense of overall positive energy. Working as an indoor botanist for your own personal plant collection can also be extremely cheap, especially if you’re starting from the bottom and growing your new friends from seeds. 

The same logic can be applied to more “scientific” hobbies such as astronomy. If you are located in an area of the world with a particularly spectacular view of the night sky as it goes through its many celestial transitions throughout the year, why not learn more about the amazing universe that you bare witness to every night? Amateur telescope kits offer a more in depth look at the sky without breaking your bank as well. 

To shift into more general hobbies that will fill your time outside of work, consider making a list of personal goals/missions that you’d like to see yourself accomplish either within the coming weeks, or even more long term. These “self missions” can include things like quitting smoking, exercising, trying to engage with the natural world more, or maybe learning a new skill such as botany or cooking. Whatever it is, take your time and find something that you know you’d be passionate about. Go to the local library and do some good old fashion research on the subject as well. 

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While we may be discussing finding a hobby to do when business hours are over, why not make that hobby finding something better to do career wise? If you’re in a situation where simply picking up a new weekend activity won’t cure the overall feeling of dread that comes with working five days a week, dive into that. Make your “self mission” one in which you’re no longer working for money but working for pleasure, and the money is just an added bonus. 

Obviously, that’s much easier said than done, however, if you turn advancing your career into your new hobby, then there’s no rush to just quit and start a new life, in fact, I’d encourage the opposite of that. For example, if you’re working as a data analyst at some firm in the city, but your real dream is to own your own bakery, turn that dream into a weekend reality. 

Make a list of general steps that you would need to take to get to that goal and then within each step, break down the realities of what you’d need to do to check that box. So if one of your steps to owning a new bakery would be to learn more about what it takes to run a business, a “sub-step” to that goal could be taking some night/weekend classes on business. Don’t worry about how overwhelming your list of steps may look when they’re all written down. Visually, it’s nothing more than a bunch of words, symbolically, it represents the things you need to accomplish in order to reach a more fulfilling life. So what are you waiting for?

Working on computers

Could Working Fewer Hours Improve Productivity?

It’s a concept that may seem ridiculous on its face: several employers are reducing the number of hours their employees work under the belief that doing so will encourage these employees to get more work done. Modern employees, particularly those who do “knowledge work,” often work inside of the office as well as outside the office, as they are constantly connected with their coworkers thanks to modern communication technology. Though the hyperconnectivity afforded by smartphones and social media would seem to benefit collaboration and productivity, it also leads to increased stress and more distractions, both of which negatively impact worker effectiveness. In light of this realization, some employers, including German entrepreneur Lasse Rheingans, are actively limiting the number of hours their employees work, believing that a five-hour workday is sufficient to accomplish the tasks necessary for an organization to function.

The workplace Lasse Rheingans runs may seem radical to somebody unfamiliar with the concept of deliberately limiting hours for knowledge workers. Employees arrive at 8 AM and leave at 1 PM, and are not expected to do any more work until the next day. In fact, Rheingans’ office imposes strict restrictions on work; employees are not allowed to access their phones or social media during the workday, and only check their work email twice per day, doing so only during business hours. Employees are instructed not to make small talk with one another during work hours. Furthermore, Rheingan imposes strict limits on the duration of meetings, most of which last just fifteen minutes.

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Originally, Rheingans, who is the head of a digital consulting agency, intended to run the experiment of the five-hour workday for just a week. But he found that the reduced hours was not only popular with employees, but boosted their focus, productivity, and drive. As such, he made the change permanent. Despite the shortened workday, employees are still expected to complete eight hours’ worth of work per day, and are paid the same but do not earn overtime pay for additional hours worked beyond the mandated 25 per week. Rheingans’ employees work more quickly than they used to, choosing to fully focus their attention on their tasks during the day in order to get everything done on time. 

Although Rheingans’ employees initially had difficulty transitioning to this shorter, more focused style of work, once they adapted they found they could maintain their productivity while freeing up a substantial amount of time for their personal lives. Employees also found themselves spending more time socially with one another after the end of the workday, sometimes spending several additional hours at the office having non-work-related conversations with co-workers. 

The benefits of a five-hour workday are supported by scientific evidence.

Rheingans based his approach not just on his personal desire to spend more time with his family and engage in hobbies, but from examples of successful implementations of a shorter workweek. Most notably, Rheingans was inspired by a book entitled “The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness” by Stephan Aarstol which argues that working fewer hours while getting more things done is not only possible, but can improve your life. Aarstol, a fellow entrepreneur, implemented a five-hour work week at his company, Tower Paddle Boards, in addition to a profit-sharing program for his employees. Though Aarstol paid his employees more per hour as a result of the shortened workweek, he nonetheless saw increased revenue, and found that he attracted more talented employees. Additionally, Aarstol found that the five-hour work day strongly incentivized increasing worker efficiency, as time management became a crucial element of ensuring all work was done on time.

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The benefits of a five-hour workday are also supported by scientific evidence. As an example, research has shown that happy employees are 12% more productive, and employees with more free time to pursue their relationships and interests are more likely to be happy. Rheingans’ smartphone ban during working hours is supported by evidence that shows the presence of a smartphone in the workplace actually reduces one’s brain power, as we generally have a very strong emotional connection to our phones which can prove to be distracting. And having more time to rest in between shifts also boots productivity; studies show that sleep deprivation has a substantial negative impact on brain power as well.

For most people, Rheingans’ and Aarstols’ vision of a five-hour workday can seem radical and off-putting, particularly in the context of a culture that celebrates one’s commitment to their job. But given the positive impact on productivity and efficiency the practice has shown to enable, not to mention the boost to mental health and overall well-being it provides workers, employers may want to give the idea serious consideration.