10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don’t Involve Code

Joel Lee 30-08-2017

As a programmer you have quite a selection when it comes to hobby opportunities, and we’ve covered them in our roundup of hobbies that involve coding and scripting 10 Rewarding Hobbies That Involve Programming or Scripting What kind of programming and/or scripting can you do that don't involve big corporations or contracted clients? Here are several ideas that you can start exploring right now. Read More . If you love tapping away at the keyboard more than anything else, consider starting there.


But if you want to exercise your mind in a fun way without writing a single line of code, then keep reading. There are several no-code hobbies you can take up that’ll help you become a better programmer in unexpected ways.

1. Baking

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby baking

Baking may seem like a hobby better suited for homemakers and retirees, but the truth is that baking requires that you be meticulous. Unlike in cooking, there’s very little room for error when following a recipe — that’s why people say cooking is art while baking is science.

In other words, you can’t freestyle cupcakes and soufflés. Ratios matter. Exact measurements are critical, steps must be taken in the right order, and small deviations can have disastrous effects. Sounds a bit like programming, doesn’t it? And by the way, Elon Musk loves to bake.

To get started with baking:
You can learn almost everything you need to know on YouTube through channels like Rosanna Pansino and My Cupcake Addiction. For something a bit more formal, consider taking an online baking course Where to Find Free Online Cooking & Baking Classes Where do you go if you want to approach cooking and baking systematically? Most online cooking courses are paid, but these seven are both free and excellent. Read More . And for practice, I highly recommend Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Baking challenge.


2. Gardening

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby garden

What I love about gardening is how it teaches you how to troubleshoot and adapt. One morning your herbs look fine, the next morning they look sick. Why? It could be deficient nutrients, poor lighting, invasive pests, etc. It’s up to you to figure it out, then solve it.

Also, your plants will die and you will learn much about failure.

Gardening also teaches you to be patient and persevere. What you plant today may take weeks, months, or even years to mature — and the same can be said of many programming projects. Through gardening, you’ll learn that daily tending is key to long-term success.


To get started with gardening:
You have many options: blogs (e.g. The Rusted Garden), YouTube channels (e.g. Voodoo Garden), and even podcasts (e.g. You Bet Your Garden). Want to inject a bit of tech? Try out some of these smart gardening devices Never Kill a Plant Again: 7 Gadgets to Make You a Gardening Pro Do you purchase houseplants with every intention of growing a lush indoor garden, only to be met with failure? It doesn't have to end this way -- these gadgets can save you (and your plants)! Read More and these gadgets for automating garden tasks 7 Geeky Ways to Automate Your Gardening This Spring Gardening is often enjoyable, but always time consuming. So why not automate the more demanding gardening tasks to claw back some of that free time? Read More .

3. Musical Instruments

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby music

Most people think of music as a hobby for right-brain folk. It’s true that composition and songwriting require creativity, but here’s something you may not realize: music theory is both logical and mathematical.

One could say that programming is a creative act within a logical framework — you combine syntax, data, and algorithms in interesting ways to create new and original software. One might argue that music is the same in that its creativity is rooted in logic.


To get started with musical instruments:
We’ve compiled lists of sites for learning the basics of music theory The 5 Best Sites to Learn the Basics of Music Theory Are you someone who loves music? Use one of these great sites to learn more about what makes music what it is. Read More as well as learning music theory through online courses Learn Music Theory for Free with 7 Fantastic Online Courses It's amazing how much more interesting music becomes once you learn the underlying theory behind the music. Take these simple and free online courses to better appreciate the music you hear. Read More . You can even learn to play instruments online Learn to Play an Instrument with 7 Free Online Music Lessons Online music lessons can be your first learning step for any instrument. Some of the best music lessons are also free on the web. We pick seven instruments and the best teachers for them. Read More , but we recommend paying for a personal tutor if you can. You’ll progress much faster and be more consistent.

4. Logic Puzzles

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby sudoku

Should be pretty obvious! What better way to exercise your logical reasoning than with logic puzzles? Sudoku and crosswords are two of the most popular options, but don’t be afraid to branch out. There are some really cool alternatives, especially in mobile gaming.

To get started with logic puzzles:
If you want to play right this minute, the easiest option would be to check out these free browser-based puzzle games 20 Cool Puzzle Games You Can Play Free in Your Browser Browser-based games are perfect for a quick casual game. Pick one from these quick puzzle games to stimulate your brain. Read More . If you’re on mobile, try these free mobile puzzle games Choose Your Puzzle! These Mobile Collections Offer a Wide Variety Love solving puzzles on your phone, but want lots of different types? These mobile puzzle collections provide word games, logic puzzles, Sudoku, and more in one easy package for Android and iOS. Read More instead. Prefer written or printable puzzles? There are some great sites for that 5 Puzzle Places for Brain Twisters and Logic Riddles If you seek a challenge for your brain, then you're in for a treat. From free printable puzzles to one of the most fiendish video games ever made, we've got it all in store for... Read More too.


5. Poker and Blackjack

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby poker

Unlike most casino games, poker and blackjack are mainly about math. Every decision comes down to figuring out your odds of success based on your hand and other details you’ve picked up during the game. You’ll crunch more numbers than an accountant.

And the whole act of making decisions based on odds and imperfect information? That’ll teach you all about risk management. Risk/reward analysis is a core skill for programmers, especially if you’re working on solo projects.

To get started with poker and blackjack:
Poker and blackjack apps are a dime a dozen on mobile platforms. iOS users can get started with this app while Android users can start with this app. Don’t like them? Search your respective app stores and you can find an alternative in minutes.

6. Go

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby go
Image Credit: Chill Chillz via Shutterstock

Go is arguably the simplest game in existence if you look only at its ruleset: your only action is putting down stones on a board. Yet at the same time, Go is often cited as the deepest game in existence because the possibility space is practically infinite.

Every stone you place has consequences that can ripple to the end of the game. As such, Go’s ability to teach you to think ahead is invaluable for programming. Your code structure will improve and you’ll minimize the need to refactor code.

To get started with Go:
You can learn the rules of Go in just a few minutes — the real journey lies in learning the myriad strategies that you can employ. Beginners should start with an app like Go Free and play against AI while learning Go strategies from these resources The Best Places On The Web To Learn About And Play Go Go is one of the oldest surviving board games in the world. Read More .

7. Orienteering

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby orienteering

Orienteering is nothing more than navigating terrain using a map and compass. The skills involved (e.g. reading a compass, interpreting a map, matching 3D environments to 2D, etc.) exercise many different areas of the brain, plus you get a healthy dose of physical activity.

If orienteering is too extreme, consider geocaching instead: using your phone, your goal is to navigate to hidden “caches” nearby. It’s a community-driven GPS game and you can play it anywhere, even in urban areas — an excellent way to detox from social media.

To get started with orienteering:
You’re best off visiting Orienteering USA and joining an orienteering club near you. Geocaching can be done on your own with only your phone, so that’s probably an easier start for most. Learn more in our first timer’s introduction to geocaching What Is Geocaching And How To Have Fun With It Read More .

8. Woodworking

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby woodworking

By woodworking, we literally mean building things out of wood. The whole process of measuring, cutting, joining, and finishing parallels the process of creating software, with just as much nuance, intricacies, and attention to detail needed.

Throughout each project, you’ll be practicing mental math, visual spatial reasoning, and following construction steps to a tee.

To get started with woodworking:
Start with our overview of beginner woodworking skills Beginner's Woodworking: 5 Skills You Need to Know Many people shy away from woodworking projects simply because they haven't done it before. Here's a rundown of the 5 most important woodworking skills to help you get started. Read More . After that, you can expand further with these helpful woodworking YouTube channels 5 Woodworking YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To Today Even if you're not a woodworker yourself, watching high-quality woodworking videos is a great way to learn about the craft, and who knows, you might even realize you want to make something yourself. Read More . And throughout your journey, you can put your skills to the test with these woodworking projects for home and office 9 Beautiful Woodworking Projects For Your Home Office Do you work from home? Have you grown bored of your mundane home office? We've got the cure for you. Read More .

9. 3D Modeling

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby modeling

3D modeling lets you create beautiful figures and objects out of nothing. The whole “out of nothing” part is often the hardest for beginner and intermediate programmers, so being able to practice that in a non-coding way can be helpful.

And once you get good, you can start designing 3D models that you can subsequently print out using a 3D printer. Or you can combine 3D modeling with programming to create assets for games, environments, simulations, etc. It’s an awesome geeky DIY hobby to pick up.

To get started with 3D modeling:
3D modeling software can be expensive. Don’t want to pay a cent? Sculptris (our review Create Beautiful Organic 3D Models For Free With Sculptris [Windows & Mac] Sculptris is a 3D design tool by Pixologic, makers of the $699 professional 3D tool ZBrush. It comes from a good home, but unlike its sister app, Sculptris is entirely free. We’ve covered Sculptris in... Read More ) is good for a basic introduction while Blender (some excellent tutorials Getting Started with Blender: 7 Fantastic Tutorials for Newbies 3D modeling is an excellent way to exercise creativity while keeping in touch with your technical side. Here are some awesome free tutorials. Read More ) is more powerful with a steeper learning curve. And don’t forget our ultimate guide to 3D printing Ultimate Beginner's Guide to 3D Printing 3D printing was supposed to be the new "Industrial Revolution." It hasn't taken over the world yet, but I'm here to talk you through everything you need to know to get started. Read More !

10. Photography

10 Hobbies for Programmers That Don't Involve Code no code hobby camera

Photography involves a lot more logical thought and creative problem solving than most people expect. You’re always mired in restrictions and the fun of it is in tweaking every factor (e.g. light, direction, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, lens, flash, bouncers, etc.) to get the shot you want.

When you’re programming on behalf of a client, their desires inform the final “shot” and their requirements are your “restrictions.” Learning how to get shots amidst restrictions is a valuable skill, and photography can teach you more about it than you’d think.

To get started with photography:
Start with these fundamental tips for beginners 7 Key Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners These photography tips will help you take better photos, whether you're a beginner or have some practice already. Read More , then move on to these photography YouTube channels Learning Photography: 5 YouTube Channels to Become a Pro There are hundreds of channels dedicated to photography lessons. The good ones are buried in the noise. We picked five of the best for you. Read More and skill-building photography exercises 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work Anyone can take a photograph, but taking a great photograph? Difficult. These photography exercises actually work. Read More . If you’re willing to pay for higher-quality education, see how you can improve your photography with How to Improve Your Photography Overnight with is great for online learning. Of the 546 photography courses available, here are some of the best ones for sharpening your skills in just a few hours. Read More .

What Are Your Favorite Hobbies?

At the end of the day, a programmer can have whatever hobbies he wants — even ones that have no bearing on programming itself. That’s one of the main reasons to have hobbies in the first place, isn’t it? To relax, have fun, and sweep yourself away from work and projects.

So our advice to you: try some of these hobbies, but only the ones that truly interest you. Don’t worry about connecting them back to programming. Have fun and enjoy yourself. That in itself — the blowing off of steam — will pay off and make you a better coder.

What kinds of hobbies do you have? Which ones have you given up on? Do you think hobbies have improved your skills as a programmer? Share with us in the comments below!

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  1. Krutsnet
    January 31, 2018 at 7:04 pm


    Try pottery. It is very relaxing diversion from hours of brain bashing at the keyboard.

  2. Leandro Ramos
    September 12, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I like to sew my own clothes, I'm a modelling and sewing student when I'm not coding.

  3. Leandro Ramos
    September 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    I love to sew my own clothes, I'm a modelling and sewing student when I'm not coding.

  4. Steve
    September 6, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    There are others:
    Coin Collecting
    Stamp Collecting
    Off Road Racing
    Dirt Bike Racing
    Sky Diving
    Scuba Diving
    Hang Gliding

  5. Kleme
    September 6, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Geocaching is a great hobby. You practice orienting skills, logic puzzles etc. And go out hiking.

    • marti
      October 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      geocaching is awesome.

  6. Satheesh Donthy
    September 6, 2017 at 1:27 am

    Volunteer in your home town. See anything that does not have a flat surface. If you want to give your brain a super reset - Google and try this practice called "Isha Surya Kriya". It takes only 5 to 6 minutes for doing once. It would be the best software refresh that you could ever give to your brain as well as body. Pick any activity where you will be forced to interact with humans, animals and nature. Anything else will be borderline waste of your time.

  7. Braden Pintar
    September 5, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Scuba diving

  8. Ray
    September 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Music Producer, Dance & Yoga teacher.

  9. Ray
    September 5, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Music producer, Dance & Yoga teacher ;-)

  10. Cosplayer or Crossplayer
    September 3, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I like to cosplay or crossplay as my favourite fictional characters.

  11. Shafik Yaghmour
    September 3, 2017 at 5:29 am

    I was a little disappointed that no exercise related hobbies are included here.

    Physical fitness has a lot of benefits including stress relief. Martial arts or Yoga can be a great long-term hobbies since there really is no end to your advancement.

  12. Matt
    September 3, 2017 at 5:13 am


  13. Ali
    September 2, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Walking, yes, and also music. And logic puzzles of all sorts.
    But I also fiddle at translating Latin texts. And am learning ancient Greek.

  14. Jed
    September 1, 2017 at 6:57 am


  15. Mack
    September 1, 2017 at 6:27 am

    #11 Spending time getting rejected for dates

    #12. Farting at the dinner table

  16. RandCraw
    August 31, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Riding a motorcycle on twisty backroads, reading nonfiction, thinking and writing about ideas, riding a bicycle, playing and listening to music, playing golf and disc golf, getting lost on foot in a woods that's not too big.

  17. austin Owino wetoyi
    August 31, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I play chess or do gardening when am not coding.

    • Mack
      September 1, 2017 at 6:27 am


  18. Ankesh Paramanik
    August 31, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    I write, paint, do photography and googling, it is one of my favourite pass time. I search whatever doubts comes to my mind.

  19. Ankesh Paramanik
    August 31, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I write, paint, do photography, and a lot of googling, yes googling is one of my favourite pass time... ?

  20. Sampath
    August 31, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I just started studying a professional course for Programming and I love playing Keyboard and Photography. Kinda interesting to know that I'm already rooted into this. *wink*

  21. Priswell
    August 31, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I make soap and raise earthworms. Both are relaxing and different, and not computer based (mostly - I do use the computer for research on these subjects).

  22. Rorie
    August 31, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Knitting is very satisfying for the programmer sort!

  23. Ila Raj
    August 31, 2017 at 11:06 am


  24. Sai trinadh
    August 31, 2017 at 7:00 am


  25. Gazoo
    August 31, 2017 at 4:02 am

    Exercise makes a good hobby after all the hours of sitting: bicycling, walking, tennis, hiking, swimming... so many others.

  26. Ghurt
    August 30, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Forgot to mention being annoying

    • Anoyning
      August 31, 2017 at 2:17 pm


  27. Johan
    August 30, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Lock picking is fun I think

  28. Johan
    August 30, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Lock picking are fun I think

  29. dragonmouth
    August 30, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Curse you, Joel Lee!
    I enjoyed dabbling in most of the activities you mentioned but you took the fun out of enjoying them by mentioning the exactitude they require. As a long time coder/programmer/software designer, once I'm outside work, the last thing I want to do is to engage in a hobby that requires being cerebral.

    • ????? ?????? ????????
      August 31, 2017 at 9:02 am


  30. Karl
    August 30, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Chess and Bridge.