Another Fast Company link, to an article explaining “Why These Two Working Moms Won’t Compromise On Pursuing Their Creative Side Gigs.” It focuses on Lindsay White, founder of children’s clothier Lot 801 and a musician, and Rebekah Bastian, a VP at Zillow and aerial performer.

White says,

“If I need to come up with something new, I’ll go down to the studio for an hour and get inspired,” White explains. This then helps her come get into her office and design in an hour what would have taken four hours if she didn’t take time to listen to music, she says….

“I’ve noticed the collections I’ve created while not practicing my hobby didn’t sell as well as the ones when I was practicing,” she says. “Sales are usually around 21% higher with collections I created while recording music and interaction with my customers on social media is usually around 14% above average during those times.”

Bastian, meanwhile,

often gets ideas for aerial routines while in meetings, and the physical exertion of her workouts helps her focus in the office. “Especially on the days when I train before work, I come into the office with a clearer head and more energy,” she says.

While she can’t claim to directly link her career success to hanging upside down, Bastian has seen dramatic improvements since she started the hobby. For example, she’s been promoted multiple times from individual contributor to vice president who now leads a team of 50 employees….

All business leaders should have a hobby they are passionate about, says Bastian, largely because it can be easy to lose oneself in the daily toils of a job. “If you have an identity outside of work, you are more likely to keep a healthy perspective during the ups and downs,” she says.

Both stories mirror ones I tell in REST. Bastian’s description of exercise as providing clarity and focus is very common. (Contrary to the stereotype of the dumb jock, lots of very smart people are serious athletes.) Further, lots of really ambitious, creative people have serious secondary hobbies– what sociologist Robert Stebbins called “serious leisure,” and what I call in the book “deep play”– that take up a lot of time, but which, far from competing with or distracting from their work, make them more productive. As  Wilder Penfield, one of the 20th century’s most accomplished neurosurgeons, explains in his essay (written and delivered around 1961 or so, hence the exclusive use of the masculine pronoun) “The Uses of Idleness:

The best rest for doing one thing is doing another until you fall into a sound sleep. It is the vigorous use of idle time that will broaden your education, make you a more efficient specialist, a happier man, a more useful citizen. It will help you to understand the rest of the world and make you more resourceful….

I have known a few men that I would call truly great. They were all men who had vivid interests in idle time, interests that enriched the mind and made them more resourceful in their specialties. The man of narrow training and narrow outlook may work longer hours and yet fail to see what such men saw.

Winston Churchill argued in Painting as a Pastime, for busy people

the need of an alternative outlook, of a change of atmosphere, of a diversion of effort, is essential. Indeed, it may well be that those whose work is their pleasure are those who most need the means of banishing it at intervals from their minds.

Consequently, “The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is therefore a policy of first importance.” If you want to be productive, and especially if you find what you do absorbing, it’s important to have something else in your life too.