Research commissioned by Officeworks has found that four in five Australians want to use their spare time more productively, with many Australians instead spending this time watching TV (84%) or scrolling through social media (64%).
According to the research, half of all Australians would like to exercise more and 43% would like to engage in an art, craft or writing project in their down time.
The survey revealed that one in three people wanted to start a new hobby, so Officeworks was keen to understand firsthand the benefits of leisure activities by challenging a handful of Australians to commit to a new hobby.
Rachel Devine of popular blog, Sesame Ellis undertook a two month running hobby to get back into the habit of making exercise a priority. With not only her fitness levels increasing, Rachel says there has been a variety of other benefits to dedicating time to her new found hobby, 'I've always wanted to commit to an active hobby, however like a lot of people, haven't made time for it."
'Over the last 60 days, I have set aside time to run regularly and have noticed a huge improvement in my concentration levels and my overall mood. When I run, I lose any self-consciousness, my mind is clear and I feel completely in the zone."
Fitness personality, Laura Henshaw, says that engaging in an artistic hobby has helped her regain her focus and that has resulted in many fantastic benefits, 'I find my new colouring hobby completely immersive – I lose time when I am doing it, which I think has given me more mental balance."
'My day-to-day routine is action packed, whether it's a gym class or working on my website, I'm constantly on the move so it was hard to find time for it at first, but after a few weeks it just became part of my everyday routine. I love giving it my full attention and can truly see its benefits in other areas of my life."
For those wanting to upgrade their downtime, Officeworks is encouraging everyone to pop into their local store or jump online to browse a wide range of products to kick-start a hobby – from health, audio and fitness and art supplies to journaling, writing and tech.
Question: When you get down-time; how do you spend it?
Laura Henshaw: If I get down time I love to go for a walk with my partner, bake something delicious or now I pick up my colouring book!
Question: How can we spend our spare time more productively?
Laura Henshaw: Don't overwork yourself and make sure you break up your work days. I can only be productive for 45-50 minutes at a time and then I need 10 minutes away from my desk before I can come back and be productive again.
Question: What hobby have you undertaken as part of the Officeworks two month hobby challenge?
Laura Henshaw: Watercolouring – Officeworks had everything I needed and more to get started.
Question: What benefits has colouring-in had on your wellbeing?
Laura Henshaw: I have found it be an incredible stress reliever! I always have my colouring book nearby for when I feel overwhelmed and need to relax my mind to be able to work through all of my daily tasks.
Question: What other pastime or new leisure activities can you suggest to help people improve their work/life balance?
Laura Henshaw: I find exercise, baking and reading all great to relax the mind.
Question: What is work/life balance, to you?
Laura Henshaw: Having enough time in the day to do things for me as well as get all my work done. What advice do you have for young Australians who struggle to put down their phones? Make a rule when you are going to switch off and stick to it! In our house the rule is no phones after 8pm.
Question: How do you ensure you make time for exercise, especially running?
Laura Henshaw: I know I won't be anywhere near as productive during the day if I don't make time to run or exercise. I allocate an hour of me-time every day to get active. I prioritise my health like I would a meeting. You would never cancel on a client or colleague so you shouldn't cancel on yourself.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Laura Henshaw: It is always different but it always starts with an early morning workout and a good healthy breakfast filled with good fats and lean protein to get me through the morning. The rest of my day is broken up between recipe development, meetings, shoots or catching up on emails. I stop working every night at 8pm and spend time with my partner, Dalton. We both work on our phones so this is so important for us both to be able to switch off.
Question: Can you share a Keep It Cleaner recipe with us, to get Australians baking, in their spare time?
Laura Henshaw: Of course! Our Healthy Choc Chip Cookies are one of my faves.
2/3 cup of almond meal
1 cup of spelt flour
2 tbsp of Greek yoghurt
6 Medjool dates
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
1 tbsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp coconut oil
1.5 tsp of baking powder
50gm of 85% Dark Choc or 1⁄2 cup of dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine the spelt flour, almond meal and dates in a food processor or high powered blender until dates have completely broken down and combined with the flour.
Add all remaining ingredients except the dark chocolate to the food processor and blend on high until all is combined. The mixture should look quite doughy.
Transfer mixture to a separate mixing bowl. Finely chop dark chocolate and fold through the cookie dough.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Roll dough into small balls (approximately 1 tbsp of dough per cookie.) Wet the back of a tablespoon and press down on the dough balls to flatten them.
Bake cookies in the oven for 12-13 minutes. Check them at about 11 minutes as they burn very quickly.
Question: Thank you for posting your What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18yrs Old + Body Image and Social vlog on social media – can you share with us, the message you hope young Australians to take from this YouTube video?
Laura Henshaw: Thank you for watching! The main message I wanted to get across with this video was to open the eyes of younger girls who spend hours a day scrolling on their phones and to realise how damaging this can be. So much goes on behind the scenes with editing photos through so many ridiculous applications and so it is really important to never let yourself compare yourself to others online. Unfollow anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself and learn to use social media as a positive influence.
Interview by Brooke Hunter