The secret to climbing the career ladder just might be knitting, taking a ceramics class, or refurbishing old cars.

That's right: According to new research from San Francisco State University, embracing your creative after-work hobbies — even if it's just trying your hand at a new dessert recipe — could be a major boost to your day job.

The report, which surveyed 350 employees with a mix of hobbies, careers, and personalities, found that those who engaged in a creative outlet after hours were more likely to be better problem-solvers during the day. In fact, study participants who actively took part in creative activities scored as much as 30 percent higher on performance rankings than those who rarely worked out their right brains.

And in good news for workaholics, the researchers found that you don't have to totally shut off your work mode to reap the value of a creative jaunt. Read: You can skim work e-mails or brainstorm a new work proposal in between painting that still life in your evening art class.

So just why is flaunting your inner Picasso a smart career move? "Creative activities really can provide you the opportunity to learn something new about yourself," study co-author Kevin Eschleman, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, told NPR. And of course, it's also a much-needed retreat from your nine-to-five stress. "You're using that time to recharge," he added.

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