By Jennifer Parris

When you have a full-time, in-office job, it often doesn’t leave much time (or energy) for nonessential activities. After all, the time you spend commuting might zap five to 10 hours from your schedule each week. And factor in the reality that your lunches and breaks are limited in proximity to the office, along with the money invested in commuting costs, and it’s easy to see how your hobbies can fall by the wayside.

Many adult workers might view the standard, hectic pace as a necessity of life. However, there is evidence that making time for hobbies makes us more productive at work.

Not sure where you’ll be able to fit it in? Consider moving to a flexible work arrangement to help include your casual interests. Below are five ways that flexible work schedules can help create balance.

Ways Workplace Flexibility Helps Maintain Hobbies and Side Projects

1. You Have More Time

It’s really about the math. When you have a job that gives you back some control over your schedule, you’ll have more time to pursue the things that bring you happiness. When we consider the benefits of work flexibility, we generally equate them to caring for young children or taking care of aging parents.

But really, you can do anything you want with all that extra time. Lunchtime gardening, training for a marathon, or an afternoon art class? The options are nearly endless. Add up the time spent during your daily commute and getting ready every day, and you’ll get a whopping five to 10 hours a week back on average. That’s a lot of time back in your life.

2. You Can Take Back Your Breaks

While this is a continuation of the first point, it’s one of the most overlooked benefits of working remotely.

If you’re one of the many employees skipping lunch breaks, you should reconsider the negative impacts on your health. Even if you do take your breaks, you’re limited by proximity to the office. Going to the gym means traveling there, changing, and then switching back to get to your desk within an hour. That can seem so overwhelming you may give up before you start.

Instead, remote work offers you the opportunity to carve out some “me” time in the middle of the day. With an hour-long lunch and a couple of breaks, that’s plenty of time to work up a sweat, process some photos, do the laundry, or work on a craft.

3. You Might Have More Money

While it might seem like a trivial cost on a daily basis, the reality is that commuting costs add up over the long run. Rather than sink that money into your car upkeep, toll roads, and gas, think about all the crafting or hobby supplies you could invest in.

When you consider all the little things you’re spending money on each day, especially when you start to include that daily coffee stop, that’s a big chunk of change to invest back into your passions. You could spend that money on camera equipment or quilting fabric to add to your stash.

4. You Can Take a Class to Further Your Education

Speaking of investing, consider investing that time and money you’re saving into education. One of the most significant benefits of work flexibility is that you can go back to school to further your education. While most people might equate that with completing a college degree or helping to advance their career, it doesn’t have to be career-focused. Instead, take that photography class you’ve been dreaming about or learn to quilt…the options are endless.

5. You Can Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

There’s no doubt about it: workplace flexibility is ideal for job seekers considering a career change. And what better starting place to change the course of your career (or launch a new one) than by looking at your hobbies for inspiration? If you’re obsessed with fashion design but have been a teacher most of your career, you might want to take advantage of work flexibility to merge your two loves and teach fashion design.

Flexible Work Options Open Up Possibilities

It’s easy to say that workplace flexibility helps maintain hobbies, but it does so much more than that.

Not only does flexible work foster and nurture your love for your hobby by giving you the time and money to pursue it, but it can also lower your anxieties and help you find a better work-life balance. With more energy to invest in yourself, your hobbies are within reach.