The American Psychological Association reports that more than 39 percent of the workforce work more than a typical 40-hour week. Believe it or not, there is more to life than just work.

Here are five hobbies that will not only help you step away from your desk, but will also make you better at your job.

1. Reading

An active literary life has many benefits that extend beyond the workplace. Reports suggest that reading for 6 minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 percent, and some scientists link daily reading to a reduction in the likelihood of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Investment guru Warren Buffett is known to spend more than 80 percent of his day with his head in a book. We’re not calling Buffett the smartest cookie in the jar, but it’s true that reading teaches you everything you need to know about becoming a more successful worker. Reasoning skills and empathy are just two examples, not to mention learning how to handle complex problems. Oh, and then there’s the level of creative inspiration each book, magazine or postcard can offer.

2. Exercise

Exercising doesn’t just get you in shape and reduce your blood pressure, it also directly impacts the way in which we think and operate. Cognitive benefits include improved concentration, sharper memory, more energy, reduced stress and prolonged mental stamina.

Whether it’s swimming, running or pogoing, the ability to raise your heart rate makes you more focused, happier and productive in the workplace.

New Call-to-action

3. Learn a language

Learning a second language is the hobby of all hobbies. According to a recent survey by the Economist, two-thirds of international company executives say that their teams’ multicultural nature increases their organisation’s innovation.

Cognitive skills like multitasking, decision making and memory are all heightened, and attention levels are said to dramatically increase. A 2016 University of Edinburgh study – which assessed 33 students aged 18 to 78 who took part in a Scottish Gaelic course – found an increase in several aspects of mental alertness regardless of age.

The greatest perk of language learning, though, is the doors it can open. Engaging with other cultures is enriching and can teach you valuable life lessons that you can carry with you in the workplace.

4. Gardening

Dubbed the “old man’s pastime”, gardening offers many transferable skills to the workplace. Caring for life is extremely rewarding, and teaches the importance of essential workplace skills like time management and patience.

Much like reading, gardening is a process-driven activity. It encourages you to take time and appreciate the task at hand, rather than focusing on the outcome. Not to mention the copious health benefits of spending time outdoors.

5. Team sports

Successful businesses – and successful employees – operate as one, leaving no employee behind. According to fast company, hiring ex-athletes is good for business.

‘Collegiate athletes make some of the best employees,’ says Vincent McCaffrey, CEO of Game Theory Group. ‘You can train an employee on the day-to-day job requirements, but you can’t change work ethics. Athletes already have that dedication.’

Right he is, too. Sportspeople are often achievement-oriented, resilient and tend to be strong communicators, not to mention the fact that they’re focused on the team outcome, rather than their own.

Build your work ethic outside of work

Becoming a good worker isn’t about what you’re taught in the office. It’s about iteration. It’s the little things that help improve your workflow, that increase your productivity.

Your approach to work is all that counts, and with these five hobbies (we’re not suggesting you take on all five, by the way) you’ll learn and develop key life skills that will enhance your work ethic, letting you tick more boxes and feel more accomplished.

New Call-to-action