Balancing Hobby Time with Work/Schooling

I know this is an odd post, but I have been having trouble finding the time to hobby. I spent the whole summer working as a camp counsellor, so I physically couldn’t model. I lost the “drive” to make anything, but now that I have it back somewhat, I find that my job and school drain me of all my energy, leaving me with little to no time to get meaningful work done with my models.

I know the majority of you guys are on the older side, but I assume you’ve been young at one point, and would be willing to share some advice from your own experiences. Honestly, any anecdotes are appreciated as well, just because hearing more stories will give me more of a reason to model.


What always worked for me, and still does, is to plan things in such a way that I have dedicated modelling days.
Making sure all the work, studying and chores are done and I can solely focus on building or painting that day. Family knows not to disturb me.
A side issue is the issue of hyperfocus. I often get caught up in a project, making it a real drag to put it aside for work, chores or other.
All that aside, periods of no motivation or inspiration hit us all from time to time. So are short, some might last years. It is a hobby, not an obligation.


Working a full-time government job, but I always try to put in a few hours to the hobby; between playing video games, socializing with friends and home chores; it keeps a 49-year-old like me out of trouble. :grin:


Probably not what you want to hear but sometimes life gets in the way and some interests have to be put aside - sometimes for long periods.
One of the nice things ( in my experience at least ) is modeling is one of those things that you can usually pick right up from where you left off . Playing an instrument , surfing , etc. - things that require practice to stay proficient aren’t so forgiving of time away.


Agreed. I used to scuba dive a lot and had the equipment and the dive hours, but when I moved out of Florida to Arizona, the idea of diving kind of went to the wayside and I sold all my equipment. Maybe down the road, I might catch up and get re-cert and go on some more dives, but that’s not happening any time soon. :frowning:


Tuesday and Friday are ham radio nights. Monday and Wednesday are baseball card nights and Saturday and Sunday are my model building nights.

When I was younger, I would spend the weeks leading up to a contest going crazy trying to finish something to have to enter, usually finishing up the weathering the night before the contest. I start each kit like I’m going to enter it in Nationals. By the time I’m finished I’m trying to decide if it will ever see the light of day or if it will just end up as a test bed in the spray booth. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

:beer: :cowboy_hat_face:


Week-ends and holidays are the best periods for modelling. You are not exhausted by the work and can do what you want !


Working a full-time government job, but I always try to put in a few hours to the hobby; between playing video games, socializing with friends and home chores; it keeps a 49-year-old like me out of trouble.

@SableLiger Elon Musk, age 52, still plays video games and he was playing the very difficult “Elden Ring, Game of the Year” video game into the wee morning hours (he’s very good at it according to his post) when he was contemplating acquiring Twitter, now named X.

@beaR It also depends on where you live. A Canadian modeler told me that he doesn’t and can’t model in the winter because it’s way too cold to open the window to vent any fumes. So using acrylic paints helps a lot to avoid any solvent fumes.

When I was a high school and college student, I modeled during Christmas and Summer breaks. I started with small, easy, and cheap kits, usually 1/35 DML plastic figures that I can build, paint, and finish a figure in a day. I still have them stored away. These figures “preserved time” of my childhood whereas playing video games and watching TV…I don’t remember those events very well as a kid compared to a kit or a figure that I can look at repeatedly day after day and say, “I did that!” I now base most of my figures, sign them, and date when I completed them just to show what I built and finished each year.

As I got older, more experienced in the hobby, and richer, the 1/35 DML plastic figures were set to the wayside on “personal value” (The recently ended 2023 “Summer Nostalgia Campaign” resurrected these DML figure kits) in favor of resin and more expensive and complex kits.

Today, I’m Middle Age, and I am very busy myself so any modeling progress helps. I find that spray cans are great for fast priming, painting, and adding basecoats. Vallejos and other acrylics don’t require an open window to vent fumes. I can go days, weeks, or months without modeling, but when I do…one, two, three hours can produce some good results because I am more experienced and more organized.

It pays to have all your paints, brushes, and materials stored in plastic tool boxes with handles and SNAP-locks for quick and easy access. Organization is the key instead of leaving brushes and paints in drawers and scattered here and there. Fast and easy setup and breakdowns help save time. Even half an hour sitting down painting is progress.

The key to fast and easy modeling is not to make a mess on your hobby desk. I line my hobby desk with clean white typing paper on the work area (easy to see the parts) and clear plastic oil cloth over the entire hobby desk. I no longer use newspapers to line my desk as newspapers can fade, yellow, rip, and get dusty and become hard to clean up compared to a slick oil cloth. After I finish a sit down, everything goes back into boxes and put away for a clear desk, even the kit. Kits no longer sit on my hobby desk unbuilt waiting for my return…I put them away.

I now rarely use my airbrush due to the time involved to set it up and clean it.

Essentially, the key to modeling is to get off looking at a screen and devote time and effort to the hobby. :grinning: It is still fun, enjoyable, and relaxing to me after all these decades and I don’t regret financing this hobby.


Been playing “Destiny” since it came out in 2014. I consider myself a pretty decent player in the game. i also play “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” and “Warframe”; though out of the three, “Destiny” (actually “Destiny 2”) is the one that I put the most time on.

I still manage to put a lot of time on the hobby.


@SableLiger Someone on XBOX had a handle that said, “60YearOldGamer” and he was playing “Destiny 2.” Wasn’t me, honest. :grin:

With YouTubers around the world posting daily and weekly, video game tutorials and coaching may be their hobby and job to make money, even if they are in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.


Well? If you ever see him again… Tell him to add “KtchUp, Kell of Condiments” to his friend’s list. :wink:


Also remember that “rich folks and rich techies” can buy commissioned built and painted models from studios costing hundreds to a few thousand dollars. They do this and rarely if ever post on the modeling forums or even pick up a paintbrush. Thus, you can have built kits in your collection if you’re willing to pay someone to build them professionally for you.

You can also buy the kits raw and unbuilt and then hire a reputable modeler to build them for you and ship it to them to get the kit built. It won’t be cheap, but it’s another form of enjoying the hobby and having someone else do the work for you for the final finished result.

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Where’s the fun in that? LOL.

I will always find time to work on my models; even if it’s 10-15 minutes between something else or before I head out to work. Right now, I have my Tiger 131 build on the bench, next to my Tamiya Early Production Sherman, which I’m doing detail painting on. There will always be time for work on my bench. :slight_smile:


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had the same issue after graduating college and becoming a math teacher. Between after school demands and girlfriend there wasn’t much spare time for the hobby.

However, it was possible to find some time on Sunday for the model hobby, usually in the afternoon or evening.

  1. Master recliner building. That means find a spot with good lighting and a great recliner to kick back and do major part clean up. It’s easy to do while watching the game ie NFL, NBA, college sports, NASCAR or whatever sports you’re interested in following. Lilewise for any TV/streaming viewing. Have couple quality containers with secure lids to store parts. Do assembly during half time at the hobby desk.

  2. Review how much time is spent on social media like Facebook etc each week. Sometimes online time can be reduced and hobby time increased with little loss of overall enjoyment.

  3. Mobile parts clean up. Travel box with a couple basic tools for parts clean up when waiting. It’s model productive unlike playing on cellphone or as we did in the jurassic age…reading book :open_book: when waiting. Long ago i remember a ~4 hour wait while recall work was done on my car. It wasn’t a big deal as I had a model tank to work on, Tamiya Challenger if memory serves.

  4. I shifted from building diorama frequently to vehicles because diorama required much more of my limited time. Deciding what matterd most to me saved spending time on extraneous items.

  5. Careful kit selection focused on less time intensive builds. Back then that meant more Tamiya and less of everything else. For me today that would mean best Tamiya, Ryefield Model’s & new Academy as for me their kits build fast without excessive parts clean up and fit well.

  6. Invest in quality tools can save you time. Quick Wheel template masks for painting road wheels, good sanding sticks, near flush cut nippers like GodHand or DSPIAE etc

Oh and after a year of teaching math, I decided to do something that paid more, had no headaches to deal with, was more interesting and put at least 12+ hours of time back in my weekly schedule. Point being schedules have a way of changing.

Good luck with hobby & happy building!


I’ve got a bunch of hobbies all fighting for time and throw in 3rd shift sleep issues and my days are wacked. One thing from the miniatures side, where it’s common to have totes of little metal and plastic dudes, is “Do something every day, even if 15 minutes. Get in the chair!” Gaming alone encompasses rules reading, mini cleanup and painting, terrain, reading background and it gets overwhelming when looking at one project like the Russian Civil War. But doing something, even if minor (cleaning up work area counts), gives that accomplishment feeling. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.


I’ve got 4 different builds on the desk now…in different stages. Since Modelpalooza (Orlando way) is about 3 weeks away, I’ll determine which vehicle is closest to finishing, then chip away at how close to a finished product I get for each one. Little bits and pieces of working a build here and there will help me complete at least one. While working on something different all the time help keeps me ‘fresh’ and away from complacency and burnout. Pick your time…even if it’s just a few minutes, an hour out of 24, or once a week. I betcha you’ll find a small modeling gap somewhere.


Bro @beaR, I’m assuming you’re not married yet, wait til you have a wife and kids, yard work, home repairs so on and so forth, I might only spend a half hour a couple nights during the week at the model bench, sometimes I’m so tired I’ll wake up with my head drifting farther downward, my cheek sliding across the Lense of the magnifier lamp. I’ve found I get my best modeling time in from around 3:30 am to 11:00 am Saturday and/or Sunday morning. The biggest thing to remember is to NOT push yourself to complete a model, every time I get in a hurry I forget something or make some other unrecoverable mistake. For now enjoy the time you can spend on your hobby and rest easy knowing that you’re taking care of the priorities in life.

Cajun :crocodile:


I try to model as, much as I can but the siren song of my bed usually wins out as I walk down the hallway that leads to the master bedroom and the hobby room (They as across the hall from each other).


Modelling at 3.30 am ? Seriously ? Wow !


What I’ve found that works for me is to have a dedicated hobby area where everything can stay out and set up so when I can grab that :15 or :30 I can jump right back onto where I left off last time.
I’m pretty lucky on the kids front , my youngest is the only one left at home and he’s only involved in scouts so I’m not shuttling him around here and there every evening. If I can get myself up sufficiently early before work I might get an hour or so in while everything’s nice & quiet and be motivated to jump right back into the project for a bit as soon as I get home.
Of course there’s the old house that always needs maintenance of some sort and the 10 hour a day job but, hey, how else would I be able to afford all those kits !
How’s that for an anecdote ?