Theory and practice of a hobby for an IT professional

    In the article on adaptation on a remote site, we touched on the topic of hobbies. For a person whose whole life is concentrated inside the apartment, this is perhaps one of the necessary elements of comfort for long periods of time. In this article we will develop this idea - the essence here is not only in communication, but also in stimulating more efficient work on major projects.

    “Too busy for a hobby,” is the wrong wording for the remoter.


    Remote work really does not give the “office” communication needed by many (we wrote about this in one of our previous articles ). No joint breaks and lunches. But the fight against the consequences of the remote format does not require any “overcoming”. You can simply arrange your life so that lack of communication and fatigue from work do not accumulate.

    A hobby is an excellent tool for managing your mood, and our employees, albeit unconsciously, actively use it. But before we talk about their interests, a little useful theory.

    Where is the hobby and where is the job?

    Almost any hobby requires focus and certain mental efforts, like work. But work and hobbies are not identical, and therefore have different effects on our brain and its performance. What is the difference?

    It would seem that hobbies and home projects (or, as they are sometimes called, pet projects) may well develop into something that brings money. So began Gmail and Uber. And which startup would not like to repeat their success? But not so easy to do. The ideology of a typical startup is “failed faster." In the world of technology, time plays a key role. If you slowly promote your project, competitors will get ahead of you. Therefore, you need to figure out whether the idea has prospects, as early as possible. In principle, this can be said of all projects in the main work: the timing always matters. Based on this idea,Hiut Denim Co at Medium identified three main points that distinguish a hobby or a home project from an ambitious startup or other business project :

    • He is not the main source of income. If the project fails, no one will die of hunger.
    • It does not “burn” in time. You can connect to the project when you want, you do not need to plan hard employment due to impending deadlines. You can allow yourself to experiment with new approaches, technologies and ideas, even if they require more time for implementation.
    • You are drawn to these projects. Despite the distractions, family difficulties and other obstacles, I want to return to the project again.

    Our employees appear to agree with these statements.

    What does the udalenka have to do with it?

    The office employee from the metropolis today does not have much time that could be devoted to his hobbies. About Moscow two hours one way from home to the place of work, I don’t even say, this is generally life on the road. But even if you have to drive an hour by transport or private car, for 12 working days they run over a full day, lost from life.
    You can rely on inhuman willpower and try to cut one hour every day for a hobby. But this approach is not for everyone. For many, if it has a positive effect, it will eventually lead to the abyss of overwork.

    It’s much more efficient to switch several times a day (though considering that distraction is a distraction). A lot of published works are devoted to this topic. For example, specialists from the Department of Organizational Behavior and Personnel Management at the University of Toronto have shown that this way you can replenish the supply of forces necessary to control your own behavior and degree of concentration. A study by the Draugiem Group revealedthat effective work is not identical to large time costs when that very “replenishment of the reserve of forces” is organized correctly. 10% of the most productive employees in their sample spent even less time on work than all the others, but on average took breaks of 17 minutes every 52 minutes. Moreover, not any break, but a fundamental change in activity, i.e. participants spent 17 minutes not on checking mail or watching videos on YouTube, but on reading books, talking.

    The above references to research should not be taken as a guide to an accurate calculation of minutes of work and rest. In the end, it's a bit like “average hospital temperature” in a large sample of people. The bottom line here is that much more work efficiency can be achieved by competently combining it with those activities that do not require the effort of the will to hold attention, but provide an opportunity to somehow fulfill oneself outside of a rigid framework. However, a standard office schedule usually does not allow such liberties. Some offices even make sure that employees are not distracted by personal matters and do not reduce productivity.

    On a remote site, choosing a comfortable daily routine is easier. And socialization, accompanying many types of hobbies, will help to cope with forced hermitism.

    Hobbies as a tool for increasing efficiency

    In 2014, Kevin Ashleman found out that people with creative hobbies more often use a creative approach to completing their tasks in their main job. It would seem that in order to achieve more, a business must force employees to create. But no. An analysis of the results showed that a greater efficiency in work gives a feeling of complete control over the situation in your free time (i.e. freedom in creativity).

    By the way, examples of the positive impact of a hobby on work can be found not only in the reports of psychologists, but also among scientific stories. So, practice in painting helped Galileoto assume that the moon has an uneven surface, with mountains and craters (contrary to the generally accepted opinion at the time that its surface is smooth). Drawing in oil, he had a good idea of ​​how three-dimensional objects look on a flat canvas and just saw a familiar picture through a telescope. Those. knowledge from practice in a fundamentally different field worked at a completely unexpected moment, allowing you to look at the problem from a different angle.

    The history of Galileo is an example of expanding a set of knowledge through a hobby. But the influence of such additional activity has at the level of physiology. Playing musical instruments helps strengthen the connection between the hemispheres of the brain; puzzles, videos, and card games alter neural paths and synapses, increasing self-organization. And in general, any additional skills help the brain to build new neural connections, as a result, work better and faster.

    A well-known fact - at Google, employees can spend 20% of their work time on side projects. The meaning of this rule is simple - this way you can increase productivity in the remaining 80% of the working time.

    The cure for stress and burnout

    Hobbies and home projects are not just satisfaction of ambitions and self-expression. If some aspect of the main work causes stress (for example, tight project deadlines), then a hobby is switching to an activity that reduces the level of stress hormones in the body.

    The authors of the book The Willpower instinct believethat stress puts the brain in a state of expectation of a “quick reward” for its labors. We seem to expect that at the end of the week we will reward ourselves with “beer on Fridays” or uncontrolled shopping on the weekend. But in fact, this “quick reward" does not solve the initial problem - it does not relieve stress. The true solution is at the level of physiology, regulation of the corresponding hormones. Physical exercises play a large role in this process, but creativity is also not in the last place - the same playing musical instruments and music in any manifestations, reading is practically any activity that helps to distract. The presence of a hobby, all the more creative, breaks the pattern of “work more to spend more”, increases the degree of satisfaction with the current state of things (work, and life in general), reducing the likelihood of burnout.

    In simple terms, a hobby is a way to relax from yourself, from a career and a burden of responsibility.

    A couple of links for those who are interested:

    HR view

    Personnel managers of especially large companies use all available methods to somehow classify the incoming flow of candidates, from tasks “blinds” to questions “by whom do you see yourself in our company in 5 years”. The presence and nature of a hobby is another marker in favor of a candidate for a position where passion, drive and independence are needed. It is curious that at the same time, many IT specialists and people who are professionally engaged in science are not inclined to disclose their personal interests. This is understandable - unfortunately, this world is full of personnel officers and managers who believe that we are all “cogs in a great mechanism”, i.e. only corporate interests should be on your mind. And it is not clear how a serious professional community will react to cross-stitching or radio-controlled toys.

    But we are interested in the life of employees beyond the scope of work. Hobbies - an important part of them, which sometimes unexpectedly manifests itself even in general phoning, helps them to realize themselves and find like-minded people in the team. And here are some interesting examples.

    How “Maxilekt” rests

    From a chair removed from a car to mass events

    Dmitry Masterov, Automated Software Testing Specialist

    I have several hobbies. I play the guitar in a gang - we play at local venues. When working remotely with music, everything is simple: you had a break of 15 minutes from the fact that your brains were boiling - you can take a guitar and play a couple of songs without disturbing anyone. It helps me aerate my head.


    And I'm a big car enthusiast. In the summer season I participate in races on the local highway, before which I am gradually developing my car.


    By the way, just such a refinement was the beginning for another entertainment.

    I felt that I did not have enough lateral support for the standard driver's seat in the corners, so the question arose of replacing it. I found and installed a new chair, but usually people don’t sell or throw out the old one, but put it in the garage (in case of adoption of unobvious laws on alterations). Without a garage, I brought it home. Somehow, passing by, I sat in it and thought, why not put together a simple cabin structure at home and put a simulator there?

    No sooner said than done. I threw a simple design in a 3D editor, made a drawing. Initially, I planned to weld, but for this I need a normal metal, it is heavy, i.e. there will be problems with the placement of the house. Instead, my father advised using nickel-plated pipes from the joker system (furniture components), supplementing them with pieces of tabletops from furniture discounts.

    From the equipment, I connected a laptop with the Assetto Corsa simulator and put the Logitech G27 amateur steering wheel, replacing their reduced steering wheel with a standard car steering wheel via an adapter printed on a 3D printer. This controller is quite old, but used options can still be found in good condition. Newer models of about the same price category do not have significant advantages, they differ only in the form of the steering wheel, so for me there was no sense in them.

    The result was a cockpit for home training on the simulator. It turned out to be especially valuable in the winter - in Siberia you can’t especially train in a snowdrift in a sports car.


    The simulator makes it possible to fill your hand, to study the behavior of the machine, without feeling overload with your body. This is actually not so simple. In fact, a large chunk of sensations is cut off, and you begin to think how to realize what you need from a technical point of view: how to move your arms and legs, when to switch, which path to choose. Such training is much better than nothing. Moreover, I chose a popular simulator, for it there are many amateur tracks and car extensions, where the physics of the suspension, acceleration and everything else, down to rubber, is laid down. I also found a mod for my sports car.

    It turned out to be useful not for me alone. I have many friends who are interested in motorsports and do not mind driving a simulator. Therefore, as soon as the cockpit worked, the idea came up to get together and arrange a small “indoor” championship. Now we periodically gather to compete.

    It’s a pity there is only one cockpit, so we are forced to limit ourselves to a very narrow circle of friends, because in order to show some result, everyone needs some time to try.

    Historical accuracy

    Anna Rozhkova, Specialist in Automated Software Testing

    In my last year at the University, I saw a report on old crafts. As an example, they showed how to make a simple decoration. Trying to repeat it, I became seriously interested and began to study. Then there was 2010, when in our region the public Internet was not so developed, so there was little information in Russian. But pulling up English, I got access to foreign descriptions of techniques and approaches.

    After eight years, I already know a lot of things - knit, embroider, etc. But it is weaving that does not bother me - apparently, this is my occupation.


    Initially, it was interesting for me to simply learn, but in parallel with my experiments in the Omsk region, the first ethnographic festivals began to be held. Previously, all the community’s attention was focused on fantasy, but from a certain moment a movement of reenactors appeared, going deeper into history. It is possible that they were prompted by the development of the Internet and social networks as communication channels. One way or another, a community began to form, where everyone focuses on their own: someone forges weapons, someone does household items and promotes some other techniques. And they themselves came to me - began to apply for fabrics or individual elements of suits.


    For me, all this is not a source of income, but primarily an interesting task. When a person, for example, reconstructs a costume from the 10th century, he studies books, studies archaeological finds, and looks through thematic exhibitions in museums. Turning to me, they usually bring some photographs of museum exhibits from the central part of Russia (historical research is much better developed there than ours), or even limited to a sketch from historical literature and a description: such and such width, such and such ornament such and such a composition. What to do, chroniclers usually did not care about describing the production process of clothing items. From the set of existing techniques, I need to choose the most suitable ones, imagining what each of them will yield. And here you need a certain attitude. Sometimes before the start of work, several days pass until I understand

    The main thing is that at this moment the time does not hang over me. Sometimes it happens that people don’t think through the details in advance, but turn at the last moment. And then I constantly think about it - that I won’t have time. Part of the pleasure of this is lost.

    Honestly, some ideas are constantly being born. And I realize them as far as possible - when the machine is released. It calms me, switches the brain with intense thoughts about work, allows you to enjoy the process.

    Design and print in one bottle

    Vladimir Vasyaev, a leading specialist in automated software testing

    I have been fond of programming in various forms since high school. What does it look like in practice? You sit and do something on the computer - it all remains on the computer. With such a view of the world, the first acquaintance with Arduino was a real discovery for me: you did something on a computer, and it comes into the real world, whether it be a lamp control timer or a radio-controlled toy. You can control real world devices!

    Over time, interest in Arduino grew into a full-fledged 3D printer. I wanted to assemble it in the RepRap classicbased on stepper motors from Soviet 5.25 '' drives. But in his hometown there was nowhere to print the details and find normal guides. And the motors still had to be ordered from China.

    It's funny that 3D printing came to my life with the idea that all “solder” projects had to be shoved somewhere — they needed cases in individual sizes, which were much easier to print than to produce somewhere to order. Plus, there was the idea of ​​doing casting from aluminum. The first is still being implemented on a very limited scale, but the second hand has not yet reached. But although the initial ideas were not fully implemented, as it turned out, it turned out that a 3D printer in the modern world is like pliers: a universal and, for some, completely indispensable tool. Of course, there are a lot of people who do not hold any instrument at home. But if pliers suddenly appear, there will be use for the printer.

    A 3D printer teaches a completely different view of things. You do not use accessible objects to solve your problems, but you design them yourself, starting from the smallest details. And here you need a head sharpened by 3D-modeling. So I refreshed my knowledge of 3D (I used to study it in college, but I didn’t remember it before the printer appeared) and gradually improve my life through the implementation of those things that I really need, and not those that are available for purchase, - from lampshades to kitchen utensils. In the fall, even the Maxilekt logo was printed for a meeting with colleagues.


    The latest project is a radio-controlled machine that I create from scratch. By the way, this task is also with history. I lived to be more than 30 years old, but I never had a radio-controlled machine. And so I bought it for myself. At first it was very cool - not the least role here was played by my passion for real off-road.


    The radio-controlled model behaves almost like a real one. It turned out to be very cool to pass obstacles on her crumpled blanket on it or to pass between the pillows of the sofa. But after several days of experiments it seemed to me that the machine was kind of sluggish. And the first thing I did was print a new case, which allows you to use one 18650 battery instead of two finger-type batteries. In this way, raising the torque (two AA batteries - 3 V, 18650 - 3.7 V), I forced her to break the wheels, so the next step is to print large tires so that the moment is distributed a little differently. With the new wheels, she no longer had the moment to go through some of the bumps in the sofa. And at that moment I realized that I needed to redo the gearbox. But because of the body of the typewriter, what I needed was no longer to be printed there - there was no place.


    In the model libraries, where I put my best practices, it is full of similar projects. But in contrast to work where you need to give the result on time, the main process here is supported by a successful result, but not limited in time. And in general, any hobby, be it a real off-road or designing a reduced abstract “sofa-road”, expands the boundaries of my capabilities. How could I have suggested a couple of years ago that I would model and print from scratch a working radio-controlled model? There are lots of small questions. For example, Arduino has very limited available memory, so I had to jump not only with the mechanics, but also with the optimization of radio communications between the remote control and the machine - for a couple of nights I struggled with a half-second lag. As with the passage on the “Niva” through 40-cm logs, which, as you gain experience, learn to storm with a bang, this is another challenge. Solving such tasks for pleasure, you understand that there is nothing impossible - there are no impassable paths. Probably, in parallel, this teaches some project management - you begin to calmly take on those tasks, the full path of implementation of which you could not yet formulate at the start.


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