Staying 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!