Follow these tips keep your marbles together during the exciting pursuit of what you love.
by Jenny Blake
Side hustles (a term I first heard from of Escape from Cubicle Nation) are all the rage these days. A side hustle is anything you are doing outside of your full-time job (you know, the one that pays the bills), and often involves an entrepreneurial enterprise of some sort—something you’re building on your own for personal satisfaction and for profit.
As Pam says, “Everybody needs a side hustle.”
Side hustles are great for the following reasons:
1. They allow you to experiment with business ideas without the pressure of trying to make your full income from them right away.
2. They are great for self-expression and self-identity—you get to build a business (or a blog) around something you are passionate about; you get to be your own boss and set your own strategy.
3. They create a parallel career track that you could leap over to at some point—or, if you were to lose your “day job,” you would already have a bank of skills and experiences that could either create a new income stream or help you land your next gig.
However, side hustles are not for the faint of heart:
1. You essentially have two jobs.
2. Work/life balance becomes even more challenging. Nights and weekends are easily consumed by one of the two.
3. You risk giving each area scattered focus, which could result in a sub-par performance at both if you don’t correct course.
A little bit about me:
I’ve been managing side hustles—gigs in addition to my full-time jobs—for over six years. When I was working at a startup company after college, I started doing Web development tutoring on the side (which was a great way for me to grow my skills, earn extra spending money and learn how to find and work with clients). Then, in 2007, I started a blog () while working full-time at Google in Training and Development. In 2008, I started the process of writing a book and training to become a life coach.
By the time I got my book deal in 2010, my side hustle (author, blogger, coach, speaker and yoga teacher extraordinaire) had become a full-time job in itself. Paired with the intense, fast-paced environment of managing global programs through my work at Google (I am a Career Development Program Manager though currently on a three-month sabbatical), it has been all I could do to maintain my sanity these last three years!
With that, I share some tips with you to help you keep your marbles together during the exciting pursuit of what you love:
1. Draw clear boundaries and create routine
Draw clear boundaries for when you will work on your side hustle. Nights and weekends? Just weekends? No weekends? I chose nights and Sunday afternoons for mine (at least until things got really ramped up with the book, when I found myself working through most weekends). Drawing boundaries will help you stay focused and stay sane. You will never get everything done, but you will at least know what your “big push” windows are.
2. Be transparent with your employer
I realize not everyone feels that they can share what they work on outside of the office with their manager—but to the extent that you can, this may actually help him or her support you and give you projects related to your area(s) of interest. In my case, it helped tremendously to share what I was doing. Because I’ve kept Google in the loop, they felt comfortable letting me take a three-and-a-half-month unpaid leave of absence to .
3. Set goals for your side hustle
What are you trying to build? How much extra income are you trying to generate? With limited time to work on your pet project, you will need to be laser-focused on what you’re trying accomplish and by when.
4. For bloggers: Assume everything you write will be read by your boss and every coworker
Does it still pass the “publishable” test? I’m not trying to censor you, but there is a level of discretion required when writing outside of your day job. I can’t tell you how many coworkers of mine reference my blog posts when they run into me—many of whom I had never met in person prior to our interaction.
5. Stay committed to your social life and be clear about your mission with friends and family
I have made the mistake (far too many times) of letting my two jobs suck up every second of my spare time (partly because I am so motivated to make my side hustle successful). So don’t forget to get out of the house every now and then! Do what you can to enroll friends and family in what you’re doing too (it’s likely that you will see them less as you ramp up your side hustle), at least for a period of time. If they know what your greater mission is, they will hopefully understand the times you have to to buckle down and provide support in the process. (Though don’t get discouraged if they don’t; not everyone will see your vision right away.)
6. Unplug, recharge and TAKE A VACATION
No matter how energized you are by what you are doing outside of your full-time, everyone needs a break…or you’ll soon be headed for a breakDOWN. Take it from a girl who has had several over the last few years: vacations (in which you from both jobs) are critical to maintaining your sanity while you juggle. I recently took a week off for . Even though I fell far behind during a critical time for the book launch, the relationships I built and memories I created were unforgettable. No side hustle is worth depriving yourself completely of life’s best moments. After all, isn’t creating MORE of that why we’re doing it in the first place?
Side hustles are a lot of work, but they can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s an amazing feeling to build something of your own and watch it grow. For those of you already hustlin’: what did I miss? How do you maintain your sanity while growing your business while working a full-time job?
Jenny Blake has worked at Google for five years and is currently a Career Development Program Manager and internal coach. Her side hustle is a labor of love—she is the author of (Running Press, 2011), a life coach, yoga teacher and blogger at , where she provides simple, practical tips about life, work, money, happiness and personal growth.
Jenny is obsessed with cupcakes, coffee and personal development books, and she credits Brazen Careerist for introducing her to the coolest bloggers and young professionals on the planet. Read more about the book on her , organize your life with one of her or follow her on Twitter