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Wellness · March 12, 2015

In Praise of the Side Hustle

When the work day is over and you finally have some free time to yourself, what do you like to do? Im not talking about pouring a glass of wine and turning on the TV (though, I feel you, Netflix is amazing). Maybe you blog about your favorite pie recipes or knit sweaters for your nieces. Call them what you willhobbies, side hustlesthese creative endeavors are the spice of what I like to consider a full life.

In the eight or so years Ive spent working full-time, Ive kept my office life balanced with a steady stream of extracurriculars, from playing guitar in a band to co-launching a site dedicated to new fiction books. Far from the pressures of deadlines, pay rates, and spreadsheets, these projects give me an outlet for stress-free productivity and experimentationits work that doesnt feel like work. (And makes me feel a lot better than zoning out to a stream of Friends episodes.)

Aside from infusing your day (or night) with pure, childlike joy, research shows that devoting time to personal projects actually benefits your mental and physical health. One recent study found that people who had hobbies like photography and cooking were more likely to feel a sense of relaxation outside of work. Another study linked employees with creative hobbies (think: painting, gardening) with higher performance while at work.

As for me, carving out a space for my band and book site has made my time in the office more fun and productive, from making me more efficient (its easier to cross things off your to-do list when you have to run to practice after work) to composing a little silly song for a Birchbox video. Theyve also opened the door for me to meet so many cool, inspiring new friends. So go ahead and build a birdhouse, learn the violin, write a short filmpursuing that wacky undertaking may just sweeten your 9-to-5, or who knows, may even become your next full-time gig.

Photo: Sycamore Pictures