Hobbies were never just a nice-to-have extra. A parade of studies have shown that having a pastime you're passionate about improves your performance at work, increases your confidence, makes you more resilient, and might even make you smarter. The many burnt-out entrepreneurs whose passion and creativity were revived by a hobby agree. 

But, according to Scott Behson, a management professor and author of The Working Dad's Survival Guide, keeping up with your hobbies is more important now than ever before.

Hobbies are even more essential when you're crazy busy 

For some, lockdown has been a golden period for pursuing their passions, of course. The internet is full of folks quarantined at home or laid off with time on their hands obsessively baking, knitting, or practicing yoga. But for entrepreneurs scrambling to save their businesses and working parents trying to be productive with kids at home, there has barely been time for a shower, never mind a loaf of artisanal sourdough. 

But it is just those people with the least time for picking up the guitar or learning a second language who most need to hold on to their hobbies, Behson insisted recently on HBR

Many busy professionals, particularly parents, "probably feel like they don't have time for a hobby right now," he writes, but "hobbies don't just take our mind off our stressors. They can help us meet our work and life challenges."

As the old airline cliché reminds us, you should "put on your own oxygen mask first" and make time for self-care even if your first instinct is to feel selfish for spending time running or gardening when your business is falling apart or your kid is on their third hour of Fortnite

How to actually find the time 

Behson offers concrete tips on how to accomplish that. "Carve out regularly scheduled times for hobbies and protect that time as you would an important business meeting or family matter. We are far more likely to follow through on a plan if we make it a set part of our schedule," he writes. "You may love knitting, but a call from work might scuttle your plan. But if you joined a weekly knitting circle (even on Zoom), you'll shut off your phone for that hour."

Also, communicate with others ahead of time that you're taking this time, so arrangements are in place and everyone is on the same page about the importance of hobbies.

Blocking out a bit of time to take care of yourself might feel like an indulgence in the middle of a pandemic, but it will actually leave you far better equipped to tackle the many challenges life is throwing at you right now.