As part of being a technologist in real life, I’ve always felt that one of the important things that I did was that I brought my work home with me, and actually enjoyed it. What I mean by that is, the long days that I spent with Windows Server, Exchange, and other things in the Microsoft ecosystem, always followed me home in the evenings and on the weekends. I seemed to have enjoyed the work enough where I really wanted to use my extra time to play with it at home too, which helped me to really build my skills. I’ve done this for the last 20 years.
My home network didn’t need to be overly complex, but it was. Learning these things in my off-work time made me more efficient in my “real” job. An issue I would encounter at work would follow me to the home lab.