The Importance of Pursuing Offline Interests

There’s been much talk about web workers feeling the need to co-work or step outside their home office. This trend may boil down to this obvious, but essential, thing: we need to spend some time offline.

So what offline activities can the average web worker pursue?

  • Hobbies, whether they’re forgotten or new
  • Volunteer work
  • Travel
  • Continuing education whether through seminars, workshops, or even getting a new degree
  • Teaching

One of the benefits of taking up new activities is that they give us new material to work with. This is especially useful for web workers in creative fields such as designers and writers. Being exposed to images, sounds, and people that we don’t encounter on our daily routines can give us a fresh perspective we never would’ve gotten otherwise.

Of course, it’s not just about getting material and inspiration – a breather from our web working tasks can prove to be energizing. When there are instances that you’re not particularly motivated to work, sometimes all it takes is taking a step back and enjoying a completely new and different activity. If a programmer has spent hours trying to figure out where the code went wrong, it might help to go cycling, or build a model airplane for an hour or so before going back to troubleshoot. If a designer or writer is blocked for new ideas, going on a short weekend trip might help generate some new ones.

Also, since we generally interact with others when we spend time offline, we’re also expanding our networks. I sometimes teach art workshops for kids and my co-teacher knew someone who was looking for a website, and it was a happy coincidence that I do some web design myself. Although I get most of my web working jobs online, some leads unexpectedly arise when I’m offline and paying attention to a completely different activity. Interacting with the same colleagues, clients, and other business contacts might end up with you saturating your immediate market. There are other people out there who need the services of web workers, but they don’t necessarily know where to look. By expanding your offline network, you’ll be opening yourself up to new contacts, challenges, and opportunities.

For me, the most important aspect of pursuing offline activities is the sense of fulfillment. One of the causes of the trend to telework is our need to spend more time on ourselves and the things we value in life, rather than just the work we do for income. Knowing that you have other activities and interests to spend your time and efforts on can be rewarding, especially if your choice to web work was driven by the need to control your own time.

If you find yourself spending too much time working, whether it’s in your home office or a coffee shop, take some time to discover other activities that can bring your web working under a completely different light.

What offline activities do you enjoy doing? How have they helped you with work?

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