Thursday, September 17, 2009

Get a hobby

Quote from the helpfultechnology blog: "Last night, as I was flicking through tweets and Google Reader items, I found myself realising a strange co-incidence. I wasn't just reading social media news or the usual (excellent) fare from government digerati blogging in their spare time."

Which translated means (I think) - "I spend my working life working on electronic government projects. After work I spend my time reading and writing about the same subject. As do lots of other people."

So you live in a bubble. Your work is your life. Your whole life.

I say - get a hobby. Get an interest that is different from your job. You Sad Man.

How can you get perspective from within your bubble ? When do you step back and look properly at things ?

I couldn't live without a hobby. It allows me downtime and a chance to take a break from work to recover. Sitting at the workbench thinking about whatever I'm working on there have been occasions when flashes of inspiration occur. It's like my brain is working away on a problem or idea without me being aware of it.

More importantly, it gets me away from work so that when I go back to it I'm refreshed and can work objectively. This is, to my mind, healthy. It also means you work better. The guys in the bubble only talk (sorry, Twitter) to others in the same bubble. They believe that everyone thinks like them and therefore make plans and decisions, which we as taxpayers are going to have to fund, based on this information. The pace of change in the bubble will accelerate while outside, it will remain slow. Those within the bubble will wonder why the rest of us don't keep up.

I hate to suggest that everyone should be legally required to have a hobby but you do wonder sometimes if it wouldn't be a good idea. Even if you don't have a huge amount of time to devote to an interest, simply having one gives your mind a place to wander to.

It's great if you have a job that you enjoy and want to give yourself over too. When you hate tough but again, having a hobby gives you something else to live for. And for the man who lives in the bubble, wheat happens when it pops and you lose the job. You really have lost everything. Presumably this is why so many people dread retirement. It's not the drop in income, its a terror of having to fill the yawning chasm in your life.

So, I say, don't feel guilty about your hobby, it makes you a better person.


Steph Gray said...

But you don't know what my other hobbies are, do you?

Seems a bit harsh to call people sad on the basis that they read some blogs.

Phil Parker said...

All I am going on is the text in your blog. That and my experience of other Government Digerati - remembering one who happily announced to a conference that she was on the ESD Toolkit forums late on New Years Eve and wasn't on her own there, or another proud to tell us she was still working while in labour with her second child...

Of course your blog could be an elaborate cover to make your boss and co-workers thing you work all the hours of the day in which case, well done - I promise not to tell anyone.

To be fair, I don't know you and you may have loads of exciting hobbies that are completley unrelated to teh interweb, in which case I'm sorry I used your posting as a nail to hang one of my pet rants on.

However you are unwittingly or otherwise influencing government policy this way. Once a cutlure of always being at work is established then it's impossible to break. Look at Tony Blair who claimed he would be a "24 hour a day PM" or Margaret Thatcher admitting she had absolutely no interests outside politics. Blunkett has said people should work until they are physically unable to. The current PM isn't exactly know for approving of anyone having any time off either !

Of course this permeates society through the media where stories of people feeling they have to take a Blackberry on holiday and constantly check in are often in the news. Grist to the mill for workaholic bosses who want to rule the lives of thier employees. And before anyone says, "We are in a recession..." this has been happening during the boom years too.

To make the point, there are a couple of stories on todays Guardian. One about female lawyers being given a £90 a night allowance for underwear when they have to work all night contains the line "Business is apparently so hectic that the firm has also installed sleeping pods.". Another showcases 65 year old Val who now works in B&Q and says "If you retire you'll be sat at home watching TV 24/7. ".

If you really love your work then this is great, but not everyone does and I still say, everyone needs to leave the Twitterverse occasionally and get a hobby.

Andy in Germany said...

Not commenting on the 'sad' comments, but the other stuff makes sense, thanks for saying it as I often feel guilts for having a hobby, especially one involving modelmaking...

Steph said...

I think I take your point.

Not sure if my blog says it, but I work part time, flexibly, looking after my young son a day a week. I work a fair bit more than my contracted hours, but not massively more. And I've found a job I enjoy, which is fun to do, which has always been one of my aims. When they start paying me £90 a night for underwear, I'll know I've hit the jackpot (and possibly gone too far). And for the love of the Daily Mail, let's hope nobody's suggesting they install sleep pods in the civil service.

Yes you need work-life balance, but reading the blogs of people I go to the pub with or bump into at conferences or barcamps isn't exactly workaholism.

Phil Parker said...

I don't know - I've worked places where sleep pods would be a great idea, especially "executive" ones. A few of those would have been sealed up as soon as they were occupied. And strangley the efficiency of the organisation would improve :-)