I have worked as a front-end developer at Aspire for almost 5 years, and in that time, have managed to resolve a lot of problems, suggest and implement many amenities. In those 5 years, my team has attended many meetings with clients.

All this sounds good from a time perspective, but problem-solving or leading meetings are skills you need to learn. Unsolvable issues appear quite often, and you need to think outside the box. In my case, hobbies and out of work activities came to help with gaining those skills.

Let me share how to combine work and passion; how to use the skills acquired from hobbies for professional growth and reveal how passion can help improve your contact with the client.

Good planning is key

It’s good to start a project with good planning. This gives you a clear view of the work you need to do and allows you to prioritise tasks and assign them. For me, computer games helped.

If I want to win, I need to plan my every move and be ready for sudden changes, but other players will also push to win. Mutual interactions make the planning really fun.

People say that games don’t teach you anything. I don’t agree. With practice, it’s a lot easier for me to predict potential dangers and prepare for change. When plan A fails, there’s always plan B. Sometimes C. If everything fails, go for D through Z. Your move.

I don’t get it… Let’s play!

At work, you often face completely new issues. When the client’s needs meet restrictions, you need to think outside of the box. This is another skill you must train and maintain, through challenges.

After work, I like to spend my time playing board games – especially those, that I haven’t played before; discovering the game’s mechanics and interactions or finding a unique way to win. These are the things that make the most pleasurable games for me. I’ll be honest – I lose a lot, and that’s because I’m trying to play in a different way than others do, even if my style is not optimal.

When I can team-up with another player or if someone makes a mistake, I see an opportunity to win. It is moments like these that make me feel in the zone and make me train my outside-the-box thinking. That’s why I love learning new board games, especially those that give many choices and options.

An introvert meets a client

As a frontend developer, I find myself talking to the client very often. I need to know how to meet their expectations. Being an introvert doesn’t help.

One day, I decided to start a YouTube gaming channel. I wanted to share the fun I had in a not too popular game called For Honor. It soon became clear that my channel aroused a lot of interest and my viewers increased, forcing me to talk to my audience a lot more. I answered their questions and provided a proper level of interaction and entertainment.

This was difficult. I wasn’t sure how to act, what to say and which subject to pick up on or avoid, so, I did what every other good developer would have done – research. I learned how to behave, how to be unique and memorable, and how to interact with my viewers. I invited them to different activities, pull on their opinions to influence my channel.

This way I was motivated to engage more than just watch the content. I’ve met a lot of very talented young people this way, and the channel has grown. I run Live Streams, with many returning viewers.

This activity has allowed me to train myself in personal interaction. I have learnt to get to know the viewers and create interest. I ask their opinions and motivate to actions, learning to tame my introvert brain.

Precision and patience

I was born in 1985, which gave me first-hand experience in the development of technology. I remember the first video games, Pac-Man arcade machines, and the first Pokemon games for Nintendo’s Gameboy. I remember the time when pixel graphics were the pinnacle of computing back then. In the 21st century, ‘retro’ arouses positive emotions for a lot of people, and so, I wanted to create such pixel images. But in a bit of a different way.

I got interested in Hama Beads. Small plastic cylinders which you place on a special pin-board, creating pixel-like images. The biggest problem was preparing an image you wanted to create, but the Internet helped with that. You can find thousands of examples, pick one, buy all the necessary colours and get to creating it.

The process itself requires focus and calms you down good. This is one of my favourite methods of training precision and single-task focus. I work in an open space with a lot of conversations going on all around me, people laughing and telling stories. Training my focus helps me not to get distracted and finish the job in front of me.

Additionally, as a frontend developer, I need to take care of all the visual details. Tinkering with pixels helps me to focus. However, there’s one activity that’s my absolute favourite thing to do and train myself. Miniature painting.

This teaches me a lot of patience and precision, as miniature painting is a process that often takes some time. It requires a lot of focus as well, and additionally trains my perception of colour. I need to remember how the light shines on the figure and to add the proper highlights in the correct places. I need to provide good shadowing as well. What’s more, paint is not a perfect substance, so I must look to cover imperfections and retouch them. But the final effects are more than worth the effort.

More than everyday life

During work, we focus only on the business abilities – coding, projecting or administration. It’s easy to neglect the secondary skills, such as communication, planning or creative problem-solving.

Our hobbies and activities can help us remember and improve these abilities, even more so if they give us joy. I encourage you all to find some time for yourself and take care of your hobbies. Unwind after work, pull your thoughts out of your everyday business life. And develop yourself!