Balancing a side hustle and a full-time job can often feel like an impossible goal.
Corporate culture has historically been unsupportive of non-work pursuits. But despite this, side hustles continue to grow – and while they originated as a way to earn more money and diversify income streams, they are increasingly being seen as a new avenue for creative and entrepreneurial pursuit.
Today, Gen Z and Millennials have the most side hustles while working full time of any generation!
In the age of ‘do more, be more,’ many of us find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of hustle culture. I know I’m guilty of this myself. And even though side hustles are becoming increasingly normalized, the quest for success while balancing a full-time job with a side hustle requires more than just determination. It demands balance, organization, and a deep understanding of one’s capabilities and limitations.
Is it possible to have it all? To maintain a high-performing career while running a profitable side hustle without compromising our well-being?
The answer to this will vary from person to person, and from career to career. But don’t worry – anyone can find more balance and create more sustainability within their endless pursuits.
Keep reading for practical tips on successfully balancing a side hustle and a full-time job!
Picking a Side Hustle You’re Passionate About
First things first – how do you decide on a ‘side job’?
I often see people who are unsure start by seeking out “profitable side jobs,” which is an excellent start if you just hope to make a quick buck.
But if your goal is to build something sustainable that lights you up and will keep you excited for the long run, there’s a much better way – lead with your passion first before worrying about the profit.
Pursuing any passion – no matter how niche – can be profitable with consistency and creativity, so allow yourself to start something you’re wildly interested in. This will help you stay motivated to put in the time while balancing a full-time job.
Not yet clear on what your side hustle or passion project might be? Read on for some guiding steps to help you narrow your focus. Otherwise, skip ahead to learn about how you can make your side hustle more compatible with your full-time work schedule!
Step 1: List Your Passions
Start by writing down things that genuinely excite you.
What do you look forward to doing in your spare time? Which topics do you find yourself drawn to? What can you spend hours doing without feeling bored or drained?
These are your passions, and they form the foundation of your side hustle.
Step 2: List Your Skills
Now, assess your skills. What are you good at? What skills have you developed over the years that you can leverage?
These could be anything from coding to baking, writing to event planning.
Don’t limit yourself – unconventional skills like imitating celebrities or learning how to help people cleanse their homes can also be highly profitable! I’m serious!
Step 3: Combine Your Passions and Skills
After identifying your passions and skills, it’s time to brainstorm how to turn these into a money-making venture.
Could your baking skills be used to start an online bakery? Could your love of learning coding languages be used to develop other people’s apps? Does your editing background allow you to easily help people update their resumes or CVs? Be creative and open to various possibilities.
Remember, your passions and skills don’t have to be in separate silos; they can be combined and intertwined in numerous ways.
Combining passions can often lead to a more fulfilling and unique side hustle that stands out. Embrace the intersection of your desires and skills; that’s where magic often happens.
Bonus: Find Mentors in Your Field
Look for people who are already successful in the area you’re considering building a side hustle. Reach out to them to ask about factors you may need to consider as you start down this path yourself.
I hate to say it, but every passion comes with an underbelly. There are admin, bookkeeping, supply chain, marketing, and many other factors to consider as your side hustle grows. Chances are, you won’t love all of it as much as you love writing, coding, or baking. But these things can’t be avoided if you want to turn your pursuit into something profitable (or at least financially sustainable).
So, where do you find good mentors that can help you mentally prepare for all the highs and lows? Look for industry events, webinars, or workshops in your chosen field. Social media is also a great place to expand your network because many great entrepreneurs offer courses and mentorships that might benefit you.
The best part is that in doing all of this legwork, you get to observe other people’s paths and journeys to determine if they are in line with your vision for your own. Following their journey and learning from their experiences can provide invaluable insights as you embark on your own side hustle adventure.
Balancing Your Side Hustle and Your Full-Time Job
While establishing your side hustle, finding flexibility in your full-time job can be a significant step towards creating a balance between your full-time work and your side hustle.
Utilize Unlimited PTO
If your employer offers unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO), use this policy to your advantage. It allows you the freedom to take days off when required to grow your side hustle. Use it strategically for in-person networking, running errands, or deep-work days.
I often use PTO days to travel for projects I’m working on for this blog, as well as to rest & recover when my schedule balancing both worlds has been particularly hectic.
If you use time off from work to build your side hustle, keep in mind – it’s crucial that you ensure your time away does not negatively impact your primary job responsibilities.
Pro Tip: Don’t have unlimited PTO? Use this guide to learn how to ask for more vacation time.
Work Flexible Hours
Companies are increasingly embracing flexible working hours as a progressive approach to work-life compatibility. If your job allows, consider shifting your work hours to accommodate your side hustle better.
For instance, if you’re a morning person and your side hustle requires creative thinking, you might start your day job later or set your alarm a bit earlier, dedicating your peak creativity hours to building your business.
Maximize Small Pockets of Time
You will encounter small pockets of free time every day that can be optimized, especially if you eliminate distractions like doom-scrolling the web.
That hour-long lunch break? Perfect for planning the next marketing strategy.
The commute time on public transportation? Ideal for catching up on industry news or responding to emails.
Utilizing these snippets of time can add up significantly, giving you extra hours each week to focus on your side hustle without infringing on your full-time job or personal life. However, don’t let it consume you. Try to choose a handful of times a week for checking emails (such as Mondays and Wednesdays during lunchtime) so you’re not constantly side-tracked by notifications and noise.
Finding a balance between a full-time job and a side hustle is not about sacrificing one for the other but about smartly managing time and resources for both.
Identify Overlapping Soft Skills and Values
Recognizing and leveraging common soft skills and values can be a game changer for balancing your side hustle and your full-time job. For instance, communication, problem-solving, and creativity might be requisite in both roles. As you improve these skills in one area, you will likely see improvements in the other.
List the soft skills required in your full-time job and your side hustle. Identify overlaps and focus on these for improvement. If your side hustle calls for increased customer engagement, the communication skills gained can benefit your full-time role.
Additionally, consider the values integral to both roles. Perhaps your job and side hustle value innovation, or they are both customer-centered. By recognizing these shared values, you can align your efforts to maximize growth in these areas for your job and your side hustle.
Continuous self-improvement plays a key role in success. Identifying overlapping soft skills and values can help you grow and excel in your dual roles concurrently.
Creating a Schedule for Your Side Hustle
Creating a well-defined schedule is critical in balancing your full-time job and side hustle. With a clear delineation of work hours, it’s easier to avoid falling into the trap of sneaking in personal work during your primary job hours.
I won’t say this will be perfect – managing your side hustle while working full time often isn’t, and I’m guilty of occasionally blurring the lines myself – but having a structure will help you be better at funneling your energy in the right direction.
Take Inventory of Your Time
Take the time to determine how many hours you will need to grow your side hustle to reach your next milestone. Once you’ve established this figure, create a schedule that accommodates the time requirements of both your job and your side business.
This is where awareness of sacrifice and sustainability comes in.
You might need to have fewer social outings or spend less time on a hobby to find enough hours. That said, be careful not to eliminate things that rejuvenate or inspire you because that will not be sustainable, either.
Once you’ve found the hours you need, set clear time blocks for each task, allocating specific hours for your full-time job and separate blocks for your side hustle. By separating these times, you ensure each venture gets the attention it needs without jeopardizing the other.
This approach minimizes conflicts and promotes productivity, as you can focus on one task at a time.
Improve Your Time Management Skills
Success in balancing a full-time job and a side hustle comes from strategic planning and effective time management.
Developing time management skills is a process that varies from one person to another, but here are some universal steps to consider:
- Attend Workshops and Seminars: Check community listings for hosted sessions at local libraries, community colleges, or adult learning centers. Numerous sessions provide insights and tools to help you on your journey.
- Online Courses and Webinars: The internet is a treasure trove of resources, including online courses and webinars that teach various aspects of time management. Websites like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy offer numerous courses on this topic.
- Read Time Management Books: Books like “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen are excellent if you want to understand and improve your time management skills.
- Implement Time Management Tools: Many time management apps are available, such as Toggl, RescueTime, and Asana, which can help you track and manage your time effectively.
- Try Out Project Management Tools: There are equally as many project management tools available for you as an individual and your side hustle team, if you have one. Asana, Motion, Trello, and Monday are just some of the many reputable project management tools available. I’ve used most of these myself and I currently find Monday to be the most useful for managing projects where multiple team members are involved. Otherwise, Trello and Motion have been helpful for personal projects.
As for popular time management systems, some noteworthy ones include:
- The Eisenhower Box: This system categorizes tasks into four boxes based on their urgency and importance, helping to prioritize and delegate tasks effectively.
- The Pomodoro Technique: This technique involves breaking your work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes long, separated by short breaks.
- Time Blocking: This involves planning your day to the minute by blocking off time in your calendar for specific activities.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your time. It’s about finding and adapting what works best for you to your lifestyle.
Don’t Forget To Rest
Scheduling downtime should be a priority, rather than an afterthought.
Incorporating rest into your business plan may seem counterintuitive initially, but it is a critical strategy for maintaining productivity and drive. Just like an athlete understands the need for recovery days, a savvy business owner knows that rest periods are necessary for maintaining peak performance!
By scheduling regular downtime, you allow your mind to recharge and your creativity to flourish. This time away from work can often lead to breakthrough ideas and fresh perspectives that can drive your business forward.
As you plan your week, month, or year, remember to include rest as a key component. This could be as simple as scheduling short breaks throughout the day, setting aside one day a week as a “rest day,” or planning regular vacations to disconnect completely.
Actively scheduling rest helps prevent burnout and contributes to a more productive, driven, and successful business in the long run. As someone who has pushed herself far too hard in the past working long days and nights with just 5-6 hours of sleep, trust me when I say you do not want to run the risk of burning yourself to the ground!
Quick Tips on Monetizing Your Side Hustle
Okay, you’ve spent all this time getting to know yourself, learning from mentors, and creating systems that work for you. You’re establishing a healthy relationship with your full-time job, and your side hustle is starting to level up.
So, I know what you’re thinking: Show me the money! Right?
I wish it were that easy.
It can take months to break even and even longer to start making a profit in your side job. But keep the momentum going. Here are some tips to help get you to a profit faster.
Making Your Side Hustle Profitable:
- Separate your personal and business finances by opening a separate bank account and obtaining a business credit card.
- Create a detailed business plan that identifies potential revenue streams and outlines your business objectives. Google business plan templates or use ChatGPT for guidance.
- Prioritize tasks that build your customer base or develop your product or service.
- Focus on networking and creating a solid brand in the early days of your business.
- Consider investing more in marketing and hiring help to streamline operations as your side hustle grows.
- Complete regular financial reviews to ensure your resources are used efficiently and adjust your strategy as needed.
While there’s no right or wrong way to strike a perfect balance between work and a side hustle, I hope this helps you build more sustainable systems and perspectives that’ll make you successful in any pursuit.
Did these tips for successfully balancing a side hustle and a full-time job help you? What else would you add? Let me know in the comments!
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