26 Useful Hobbies That Can Make You Insanely Productive and Successful

Productive Hobbies

Many people view hobbies as a waste of time and a distraction from important tasks. While it is true that some hobbies can derail you from your goals, if you choose your hobbies well, they can actually help you to be productive and more successful.

Achieving success in any endeavor demands more than just putting in hard work. It also requires working efficiently. Studies show that hobbies are essential to your general well-being. They can also help you be productive by making you smarter, healthier, and more relaxed.

How hobbies can make you more productive and successful

Here are ways that hobbies can improve your productivity. Hobbies:

  • Help guard against negative emotions. Negative emotions can lead to unhealthy relationships at home and work, which can ultimately hinder your success. Hobbies can help to deal with negative emotions by calming your mind and reducing stress.
  • Improve your work environment by creating an atmosphere that is conducive to work. A cluttered and poorly designed work environment can be a distraction. Hobbies like interior design can help you create productive work spaces.
  • Help you to expand your brain so that you can learn faster and solve problems better. You can improve how your brain works by exercising, eating healthy, and sleeping well.
  • Help you to be healthy and fit so that you can keep away diseases that may prevent you from working. It is important to maintain peak mental and physical conditions so that you can sustainably work at a high level.

If you want to see more benefits of hobbies, see my article on The Importance of Hobbies.

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In this article, I will explore 26 useful hobbies that can significantly boost your productivity. I will provide detailed explanations of how the different hobbies can increase your productivity and offer tips on how to get started quickly.

Aim to incorporate as many of these hobbies as you can into your lifestyle. By compounding the benefits of each hobby, you can create a snowball effect that will make you unstoppable.

Here are the top productive hobbies

1. Working Out

Numerous studies have shown that exercise has many health, cognitive, and emotional benefits that we cannot ignore. Exercise can help you work productively well into your old age.

Three women working out
Exercise has numerous health benefits that can make you more productive

How working out makes you more productive

Exercise has many physical and mental benefits that help you become more productive.

For example, hobbies:

  • Keep diseases and injuries at bay. Exercising helps to manage weight, strengthen muscles, and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and hypertension. You cannot work well if you are sick, tired, or battling pain.
  • Help you to sleep better. Studies show that exercising helps improve sleep quality and duration. If you sleep well, you will have more energy to work.
  • Make you smarter. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, which helps improve cognitive functions. It also helps to protect against conditions like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

2. Reading

Some of the most successful people are avid readers. Here are some reading habits of the world’s top billionaires.

  • Elon Musk would sometimes read up to 10 hours a day when he was younger.
  • Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading.
  • Bill Gates reads roughly 50 books a year.

How reading makes you more productive

Reading can make you more productive by:

  • Helping you gain knowledge in your field. If you don’t know how to do something, you can read a book on how to do it. This will save you time that you would have wasted trying to figure out things by yourself.
  • Sharpening your brain. Reading improves focus and concentration, which helps with deep work. Studies also show that reading may slow down cognitive decline.
  • Helping you learn productivity principles. There are plenty of books written on productivity. These are full of useful information that could help you become more productive.

Listen to Bill Gates talking about his reading habit (3 minutes)

3. Writing

Writing is an important skill that can be overlooked easily. But when you think about it, most influential works (such as plays, speeches, movies, or songs) were first written down as scripts or verses.

Therefore, if you want your work to have a greater impact, you need to learn how to write well.

How writing makes you more productive

Writing can help you to be more productive by:

  • Teaching you how to communicate effectively. Communicating your ideas effectively is crucial for getting people to support your goals or ideas. Some types of writing (such as copywriting and storytelling) are powerful in learning to be persuasive.
  • Helping you to learn. Writing forces you to learn and seek new ideas because if you rely solely on your own ideas, you will quickly run out of things to write. That is why good writers are also good readers. And the more you read, the smarter you get.
  • Helping to build discipline. Sitting down to write consistently requires a lot of discipline. Developing strategies and habits to help you write consistently can translate to other areas of your life, helping you to build useful habits.

The best way to learn how to write is to start writing on any topic you enjoy. I find blogging to be a convenient way to get started with writing because it is easy to get feedback and you can earn some money. For more see Blogging As a Hobby.

4. Coding

Technology can help make our work easier. There are many tools including tools that can help you improve your productivity by reducing or eliminating mundane or repetitive tasks.

This can free up your time for more important or creative tasks. Learning how to code can be a game-changer when working with these tools.

How can coding makes you more productive

Here is how programming can help you to become more productive:

  • You understand technology better. Success often involves being among the first to take advantage of new technology. If you can quickly understand how a particular technology works, then you can use it to increase your productivity and efficiency.
  • You can create your automation scripts and tools. You can create programs to optimize your workflows. By developing the programs yourself, you avoid paying the hefty subscription charges demanded by many automation apps.
  • You learn how to work efficiently. Programming philosophies (such as DRY principles, SCRUM methodologies, etc) emphasize efficiency and can help you change how you work.

5. Philosophy

Your beliefs and philosophy about life drive so many aspects of your life. However, we often don’t take the time to examine the beliefs and philosophies we hold.

Studying philosophy can help you adopt new and better philosophies that can help you drive your life forward.

How philosophy makes you more productive

Philosophy can help you to become more productive by:

  • Helping you to choose the right priorities. You have limited time, so you don’t want to waste it chasing things, careers, and people that will not add value to your life.
  • Avoiding marketing manipulation. If you buy into the consumerism culture, you will spend all your money trying to impress people with overpriced items. You have to work longer hours to make more money so that you can afford them.
  • Helping with mental health. You can beat anxiety and stress by adopting appropriate beliefs and mindsets.

6. Healthy Cooking

Although healthy food is fundamental to a quality life, taking the time to cook it is often seen as a waste of valuable time.

However, learning to cook can help you greatly enrich your life. You can develop a love for cooking by taking it as a creative and meditative activity rather than a chore.

Man and woman cooking
Cooking and eating healthy food will give you the energy you need to work

How healthy cooking makes you more productive

Cooking helps you to be productive in several ways:

  • You get to eat nutritious food. Food is the fuel that helps us to work. If your food is bad, you will find it hard to work because you will always be sluggish and tired.
  • It is a meditative activity. When cooking, you can get into a meditative flow state where you are relaxed and disconnected from work. Did you know, for example, that some therapists use cooking to treat anxiety and depression?
  • It saves you money. Eating out is expensive and this means that you have to work more to afford to eat out. It is a vicious cycle.

7. Learning Skills

If you want to quickly cut down a tree, you must sharpen your ax. Similarly, developing multiple skills or skill stacks can increase your chances of success in anything you do.

But to do this successfully, you have to love learning. If you consciously decide to turn learning skills into a hobby, you will gradually master the art of learning.

How learning skills makes you more productive

When you develop the right skills, you gain a competitive advantage over others.

  • You work faster. For example, if you are a hunt-and-peck typist, you can double your speed by learning to touch type. The faster you work, the quicker you can finish your work.
  • You work more accurately. Sticking with the typing example, you will be more accurate with touch typing than hunt-and-peck. This means less time spent correcting errors.
  • You get better at learning. The more skills you learn, the easier (and faster) it will be to learn additional skills. Your brain adapts and gets good at learning new things.

8. Psychology

Understanding how people think and what motivates them can be a great asset in crafting win-win solutions to problems. That is why companies spend a lot of money trying to understand the psychology of their customers.

How psychology makes you more productive

When you learn psychology, you become more productive because:

  • You learn to negotiate. You can negotiate with your boss for a higher salary or more time off.
  • You learn to collaborate. Many hands make work light, but you have to be a person who can work well with others.
  • You learn to motivate. When you know what people want, you can craft win-win solutions that will make people want to help you to achieve your goals.

9. Journaling

Journaling is a powerful technique that can transform your life at multiple levels. It has been used quite effectively in numerous therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Journaling involves keeping a record of your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and insights. We tend to forget what we learn (either from books or life experiences) because we don’t come back for deeper reflection.

How journaling makes you more productive

Journaling can help you become more productive in the following ways.

  1. You learn more about yourself. When you are more aware of your desires, values, and skills, it helps you to know what to pursue and what to ignore.
  2. You can set meaningful goals. Goals drive us towards what is beneficial to us. Journaling helps you to reflect on your goals so that you don’t waste time chasing the wrong goals.
  3. It can help you to improve yourself. Journaling and self-reflection help you to identify areas to improve in your life. You will significantly increase your productivity by improving your traits and skills.

10. Meditation

The modern-day workplace is highly stressful. You have to deal with high targets, demanding bosses, and competitive co-workers.

Regular meditation is a great hobby to pick up because it can help you relax and let go of toxic thoughts.

Woman meditating
Meditation helps you to clear your mind so that you can focus on your work

How meditation makes you more productive

Meditation can help you to become more productive by helping you to:

  • Manage conflict. Conflicts at home or work can distract you from your work. Studies show that meditation can help to develop empathy and compassion.
  • Manage fear. Fears such as social anxiety, fear of losing a job, or fear of making a mistake can be a big distraction. Fears can lower your productivity and increase your chances of failure.
  • Get rid of toxic thoughts. Unpleasant thoughts can keep playing constantly in your head, leaving you exhausted and constantly in fight or flight mode.

Here is a simple guided meditation you can try (5 minutes).

11. Walking

Some of the greatest minds in history loved walking. Charles Darwin, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henry David Thoreau were obsessive walkers. They believed that walking was pivotal to their creative process, and science proves them right.

There are lots of studies that demonstrate how walking can help you to improve your creativity, mental health, and general fitness. Most experts recommend that you take 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day to maximize the benefits of walking.

How walking makes you more productive

Here are ways that walking can make you more productive.

  • It is a form of exercise. Walking helps improve circulation to various parts of the body, including the brain. This helps to improve focus, memory, and clear thinking.
  • It helps in the processing of negative emotions. Negative emotions like anger can leave you stressed and unable to work. Walking gives you a chance to calm down and approach issues objectively.
  • It gives your brain a chance to relax. When the brain relaxes, it can process thoughts in the background. This explains why many people report getting breakthrough ideas after walking.

12. Bird Watching

Roughly 45 million Americans (13%) are bird watchers. Why is birding so popular?

There are plenty of reasons. Birding can benefit multiple areas of your life including your health, finances, relationships, and mental health (see Is Birding the Ultimate Hobby?). It is also enjoyable and easy to get into for people of all ages.

How bird watching makes you more productive

Here are some great reasons to take up birding if you want to be productive.

  • It can make you smarter. Birding requires memorizing bird identification features and calls. This leads to growth in areas of your brain that are associated with memory and categorization.
  • It encourages mindfulness. Birding engages our senses, helping us to focus and be more aware of our surroundings. In an age of distractions, learning how to focus your mind can be a great asset.
  • It makes you healthier. Birding helps you to combine two highly beneficial activities-walking and being outdoors. This leads to stronger muscles, improved lung function, better sleep, and improved blood circulation, among many other benefits.

13. Interior Décor and Design

Interior décor and design can help you to create an environment that suits your working style and mood.

This is especially important if you are working from home because most home working spaces are not optimized for productivity and may have many distractions.

How interior décor and design make you more productive

Interior décor can make you more productive by:

  • You can organize your workspace to maximize productivity. For example, you can arrange your workspace furniture to ensure everything is within easy reach. By having everything you need at arm’s length, you reduce the amount of time required for task switching.
  • Preventing distraction. You can increase your productivity by changing various aspects of your workspace, such as furniture orientation. For example, you might want to structure your working area in a way that you do not see your bed or TV.
  • Creating the right mood for work. Light and colors can impact your productivity in many ways. For example, you may work better with mood lighting or neutral colors in your workspace. Someone else may prefer a darker theme in the office.

14. Music

Einstein started playing the violin at age five, and music seems to have played a role in his scientific working process.

But Einstein was not the only accomplished person to love music. Prominent people like Charles Dickens (the accordion), Thomas Edison (the piano), Louis Braille (the organ), and Alexander Graham Bell (the piano) also excelled at music.

How music makes you more productive

Here’s how music can make you more productive.

  • It helps you to detach from work. Music gives your brain time to relax and rest. As you play music, your brain can process ideas in the background, and this can lead to innovative breakthroughs.
  • It helps in building discipline. Learning how to play a musical instrument requires regular practice and self-discipline. Once you acquire self-discipline, you can apply it to other areas of your life.
  • It helps in learning skills. Learning a musical instrument successfully leads to feelings of accomplishment and competence. This can give you the confidence to learn other demanding skills because you develop trust in your ability to learn new things.

Further reading: If you enjoy doing creative activities like music, art, or performing, check out my list of the best creative hobbies (150+) you can take up.

15. Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle that involves cutting off things that distract you so that you can focus on things that are truly important in your life.

You can embrace minimalism in different ways:

  • Cutting down on material possessions so that you are left with stuff that you care about, or that is useful.
  • Reducing the amount of information you take in so that you focus on what is helpful.
  • Being mindful of your relationships so that you have a few close friends who bring value to your life.

How minimalism makes you more productive

Minimalism can help you be more productive by:

  • Saving costs. Money worries and the need to make a living can force you into activities that are not part of your core mission. Minimalism and frugality help you to become financially responsible so that you can focus your time, energy, and money on what matters.
  • Removing destructive distractions. Being constantly bombarded by negative news on TV, and social media is not good for your mental well-being. By practicing digital minimalism, you can spare your mind from these negative distractions.
  • Creating a clutter-free environment. You don’t have to spend a lot of your mental energy managing things that are better gotten rid of. Cleaning, management, and storage of things you don’t need can sap your energy and money.

16. Organizing

Disorganization can be costly for productivity as is shown in the statistics below.

  • A survey of 18,000 business leaders showed that 57% of respondents lost 6 hours per week due to disorganization. This cost their companies roughly $11,000 per year in lost time.
  • Another survey revealed that employees spend at least 2 hours a day (or 25% of their work week) looking for documents, information, or people they need to do their jobs.

How organizing makes you more productive

Organizing helps you to become more productive by:

  • Helping to clear your environment of clutter. Clutter makes it difficult to find the things you need. If you can’t find the things you need to start work, you will be tempted to procrastinate.
  • Keeping everything in its place. Spending too much time looking for something can kill the momentum for work. You can fix this by ensuring that everything you need has a specific storage place.
  • Helping to reduce stress. Trying to find important information when you are faced with a deadline can be incredibly stressful and this lowers your productivity. Being organized decreases the frustration of having to look for things when you need them.

17. Zettelkasten

Zettelkasten is a method for capturing, organizing, and storing information that was popularized by German sociologist Niklas Luhmann.

Luhmann’s Zettelkasten method involved recording notes on cards that were stored and organized in slip boxes. These days, most people use software tools like Obsidian, Roam Research, and Logseq to organize their notes and ideas.

How Zettelkasten makes you more productive

Zettelkasten can make you more productive by helping you:

  • Keeping track of ideas. You lose most of your great ideas because you trust that you will remember them. Your brain should be a thinking tool, not a storage container. You can free your brain’s bandwidth by using Zettelkasten software as a second brain.
  • Make connections between ideas. Zettelkasten system organizes information like a web which helps you see relationships that you would otherwise not have seen. This can lead to original and innovative ideas because it mimics how the brain works.
  • Organize information. The Zettelkasten method makes it easy to store, organize, and retrieve information whenever you need it. This reduces duplication of information and reduces the amount of time you spend looking for information.

18. Yoga

Yoga is a practice that involves stretching and strengthening your body through various poses, stretches, and breathing exercises.

Yoga has been practiced in India for centuries, and studies show that it has many physical and mental health benefits.

How Yoga makes you more productive

Yoga can make you more productive by:

  • Counteracting the effects of too much sitting. Too much sitting can lead to ailments (such as neck and back pain) that can impair your ability to work. You can relieve muscle tension and reduce pain by stretching and strengthening specific muscles.
  • Helping you to relax. Yoga has routines like deep breathing which help you to relax and overcome stress and anxiety.
  • Developing mindfulness. Yoga helps you to develop mindfulness which is great for learning how to focus on the task at hand without giving in to distractions.

19. Gardening

Gardening is a great way to connect with nature, relax and grow healthy food. The great thing about gardening is that you can do it almost anywhere and it is quite affordable.

How gardening makes you more productive

Gardening can help you to be more productive by helping you:

  • Create beautiful spaces. If you have good gardening skills, you can create beautiful and relaxing spaces in and around your work environment.
  • Get into the zone. Gardening can help you get into a meditative state of flow where the sense of time seems suspended. You can spend many happy hours in your garden without realizing it. This is great for relaxing and keeping stress at bay.
  • Grow nutritious food. Your body needs proper fuel for it to work at full capacity. With gardening skills, you can grow nutritious, chemical-free, food.

20. Teaching

We have an in-built desire to share our knowledge and skills with others.

You don’t have to be employed as a teacher to do teaching. In fact, you probably do some form of teaching already. Some of the ways you can teach include:

  • Using blogging or YouTube to teach others about your hobbies or interests.
  • Helping your kids with homework.
  • Online tutoring, for example, teaching English through Zoom.

How teaching makes you more productive

Teaching helps you to become more productive because:

  • It equips you with research skills. You can save a lot of time at work or school by learning how and where to find information quickly.
  • It helps you understand difficult concepts. If you struggle to understand a difficult topic at school or work, try teaching it to someone else. You can skyrocket your productivity by simply being good at grasping complicated concepts quickly.
  • You improve your communication skills. If you can clearly explain difficult concepts to others, people will view you as an authority in that subject. This can open many opportunities for collaboration.

21. Sports

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.3 percent of Americans engage in sports every day. The most common reasons they give for engaging in sports are weight loss, strength building, and healthy living.

Besides the many physical, mental, financial, and social benefits, sports can also make you more productive in your work.

How sports make you more productive

Sports help you to be more productive by:

  • Leveraging the benefits of fitness. Sports help you to improve your physical and mental health, which is crucial for working effectively. Some of the benefits you get from sports include disease prevention, better sleep, and increased focus.
  • Building a competitive spirit. Sports help you to learn how to compete in a healthy way, for example, by learning how to win with humility and lose without being discouraged. You can apply this skill in other parts of your life, including work.
  • Promoting teamwork and building leadership skills. Sports help you to learn how to work with others to achieve a common goal. If you are a coach or a team captain, you also learn to lead others and motivate them to achieve their best.

For ideas on the types of sports you can get into, check the following articles:

22. Dancing

Dancing is a great way to meet people, get a workout, and have fun. These benefits can impact your life in many positive ways.

Even if you feel that you do not know how you dance, you can always find a dancing style that is suitable for you.

How dancing makes you more productive.

Here’s how dancing can help you become more productive.

  • It is fun. Dancing is a fun way to spend time with friends or a significant other. It can leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to face the coming week.
  • You get a workout. If you don’t like traditional exercise, dancing can help you get a decent workout and experience the productivity benefits of fitness (such as strength, disease prevention, and weight loss).
  • Can help you to bond with people at work. You can advance your career by bonding and making friendships at work. When you go out dancing with your work colleagues, you break down the formality of an office environment.

23. Coffee Brewing

Research shows that drinking coffee has many benefits, such as boosting energy levels and fighting diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

Getting access to good quality coffee can be time-consuming and expensive. If you don’t live or work near a good coffee shop, you might be forced to drive for miles to get your coffee fix.

However, with coffee brewing skills, you can make your own high-quality coffee, customized to your liking.

How brewing makes you more productive

Coffee brewing can make you more productive by:

  • Helping you leverage the benefits of drinking coffee. If you brew your own coffee, you will have access to high-quality coffee that will help you to leverage all the health benefits of drinking coffee at a lower cost.
  • Saves time. If you often go to a coffee shop to have coffee, brewing your own coffee could save you time and money.
  • Creativity. You can develop your creativity by experimenting with different flavors and methods of roasting beans. You can also use latte art to express your creativity. This creativity can translate into other areas of your life.

24. DIY

Do IT Yourself (DIY) hobbies often involve carrying out hands-on activities that you would have otherwise hired a professional to do.

Examples of DIY hobbies you can start include home decoration/repair, carpentry, metalwork, upcycling, and crafting (see The Best DIY hobbies for more).

How DIY makes you more productive

DIY can help you to be more productive by:

  • Helping you create spaces and items that aid productivity. With DIY skills you can create things like standing desks or ergonomic chairs that will help you work more conveniently. You can also change the layout of your office to enhance productivity.
  • Developing creativity. Some DIY hobbies especially those that involve decoration can help you develop your creativity. This trains your brain in problem-solving and coming up with innovative solutions.
  • Helping you to relax. Working with your hands gives your brain time to relax. If your work involves a lot of intellectually challenging tasks, this can be a great way to detach from your work.

25. Hygge

Hygge (pronounced “hooga” or “hyooga”) is a Danish word for coziness. Hygge involves creating an environment that promotes a sense of contentment and well-being.

Hygge allows you to slow down and enjoy the small pleasures of life with the people you love. Examples of Hygge include taking a warm bath, sharing a meal with friends, and celebrating the small joys of life.

How Hygge makes you more productive

Hygge can help you be more productive by:

  • Helping you deal with stress. If you are always stressed and anxious, you will find it difficult to focus on your work. Hygge helps you to relieve that stress.
  • Improving your relationships. Spending time with people you love helps you forge strong bonds with them. You will need this support system when you are going through tough times at work or in your life in general.
  • Helping you reflect on the important things in life. To be productive, you have to understand why you are working so hard. By aligning your work to your most important priorities, work becomes easier.

26. Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that aims to bring balance and harmony to homes through building design, furniture placement, and colors. When Feng Shui is done well, positive energy (Chi) flows uninhibited through your home, bringing good health and fortune.

How Feng Shui makes you more productive

Feng Shui can make you more productive by:

  • Helping you create a pleasant working environment. Using plants, water features, and positioning for natural light can create an environment conducive to working.
  • Making efficient use of space. Feng Shui can teach you how to arrange your furniture to maximize the use of space and improve functionality.
  • Altering your mood. You can design different parts of your home to reflect your different moods. For example, you can optimize a room for relaxing by having earthy tones and mood lighting.

Knowledge of Feng Shui may complement some of the useful hobbies in this list (such as organization, interior décor, DIY, and minimalism).

Wrapping Up

To be successful in your endeavors, you need to use anything that will give you an edge. By incorporating these productive hobbies into your lifestyle, you should be able to achieve sustainable success without risking burnout.

If you can’t find a hobby that suits you, you can also check my List of Hobbies for Beginners for more hobby ideas.

Further reading

You can also check out the following articles.