Energy from a New Pastime (#EdMarchSanity 2)

Not half an hour ago, an online student of mine remarked, “Isn’t it amazing how invigorating even the idea of starting a new book is?” The comment confirmed my plan for this second installment of #EdMarchSanity. (Here is the first, featuring eight zero prep activities.)

This advice is paradoxical, but, if you want a major energy boost, you might consider taking up a whole new thing. It can be something as simple as a book you’ve wanted to read, but felt you couldn’t justify in the face of your duties. But I encourage you to think about a whole new pastime, for two reasons:

  1. It can serve as a much-needed alternative to work
  2. It can provide energy that carries over into work


A Much-Needed Alternative

I remember sitting in a roundtable discussion circa 2003 where current and former doctoral students were sharing tips about how to make it through the dissertation process. One noted that a new hobby had been crucial for him, and several others loudly agreed. The first had taken up gourmet cooking; another had become an avid knitter. The main point being made was that it was important to have something else to throw oneself into instead of the dissertation, and this something had to be major enough to really occupy one’s attention and effort.

Hakko Denshin Ryu Tai Kai in Ann Arbor, MI

You may already have something that does this for you. If you do, consider spending some extra time on it or working toward a new goal during this season of school. For me, the thing is martial arts, and it works out nicely right now that I happen to be close to my next test. At other times, it has been classical guitar, soccer, working on a big puzzle, or ice skating, all still among my favorite pastimes. In addition to giving me a break from other stuff, these pursuits provide a concreteness, even physicality, that keeps me grounded and counteracts my tendency to live in my mind. The fact that I do these things with or around different people than the people I work with also helps.

If you don’t have a major non-work pastime, now could be just the time to start, precisely in order to shift your focus from whatever duties may have been making you think that now is not the time.


Energy that Carries Over

Besides offering a crucial break from duties, a new pastime can be so thoroughly energizing that the energy you get from it lingers when you get back to work. I’ve found this to be the case repeatedly even with something as simple as reading a new fantasy series. (Though I enjoy several TV series, I don’t get the same energizing effect from them.)

Even if the energy doesn’t carry over, it’s still worth having that other thing to look forward to and to help replenish your energy. This is good for all areas of your life!


Have you ever had the experience of paradoxically gaining energy or focus from taking up a new pastime during a busy season? Is there something you’ve wanted to start, but have been putting off? Let us know if you try it!

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