The gig economy, which includes side hustles of every variety, has grown exponentially in the past decade. It is an industry reportedly worth $455 billion, according to Zippia. The career website noted that last year alone, approximately 45% of adults worked a side gig.
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It is more common than ever for Americans to work more than one job in order to make ends meet, pad savings accounts, or simply have a little extra spending money. But side hustles are not for the faint of heart, particularly if you are already holding down a full-time job. Over 27% of Zippia respondents stated that they spend 11-20 hours per week on their side gig. Adding that to your normal 9-to-5 is a recipe for burnout.
If you, like millions of Americans, are hoping to earn extra cash, you’ll have to navigate the real struggles that come along with taking on more work. To help you out, we asked experts nationwide how they successfully juggle full-time work with a side hustle. Here’s what they had to say.
Set Clear Boundaries
Raj Dosanjh, an internet entrepreneur and lead generation expert, noted that you need to “set clear boundaries and stick to them.” He said, “This includes setting specific times for working on your side hustle and not allowing it to interfere with your full-time job or personal life.”
Dosanjh understands the challenges that side gigs can create as he started his first business venture (Rentround) while working a full-time banking job. He now not only runs Rentround, but also The Perfect Broker.
Smita D Jain, a full-time entrepreneur running Executive Coaching and Life Coaching and a fiction writer on the side, agrees. She argues that compartmentalizing is key. She recommends people “have a fixed set of time blocks during the week where you focus and work fully on one of your ventures without thinking about the other.” She adds, “This time block is non-negotiable.”
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Use Your Time Effectively and Efficiently
Our experts universally agree that time management is one of the most important components of successfully juggling both. Jain cautions, “Trying to schedule your way to time management is a surefire invite to overwhelm.”
She recommends, “Don’t prioritize your schedule, instead schedule your priorities. Identify the top three tasks combined across both your pursuits during the month, week, day et al. That will leave you with a sense of achievement. Then focus your energies and efforts on those priorities. Everything else can wait; anything apart will be a bonus.”
Abby Price, who currently has a 9-5 job but also runs a couples travel and outdoor adventure blog, Trekking Price’s, concurs. She states, “Balancing a full-time job with a side hustle definitely requires time management skills and prioritizing tasks.”
She adds, “Over the last year, I have learned that keeping a detailed schedule and writing out the tasks that need to be completed as well as their deadlines have been essential for my 9-to-5 job success as well as my side hustle success.”
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Staying energized is also important. In order to do this, it might be a good idea to choose a side gig that is in a different sector than your 9-to-5. Brock McGoff, the founder of The Modest Man, said when he started his blog he was working a full-time digital marketing job at a huge non-profit. He argues, “It helps if your side hustle is practically different than your day job.”
McGoff continues, “So if your 9-to-5 has you sitting at a computer for 8 hours, it’s tough to go home and sit at a computer for another 3 hours. But working with your hands? Baking? Taking photos or shooting videos? That’s a welcome change of pace.”
Abby Price states, “When it comes to staying energized about both jobs, I have learned to set goals for myself but to not wear myself down. Additionally, I make sure to set aside time for self-care and prioritize doing things that make me feel healthy and happy such as exercising, spending time outside, and reading a good book!”
Avoid Conflicts of Interest
Samantha Blake, who works full-time at a top consulting firm as a financial analyst and balances her side hustle, Samantha Digital LLC, says that conflicts of interest can and do happen. She recommends, “Before starting a side gig while working full-time, it’s important to understand your company policies. Make sure that your side hustle does not violate any company policies or non-compete agreements.”
She says if a conflict of interest does arise, you should first take the time to “understand the nature of the conflict and the potential impact it may have on your full-time job and your side hustle.” Then, you can “talk to your manager or supervisor about your side hustle and the potential conflict. Be transparent and honest, and discuss possible solutions.”
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“Consider flexible work arrangements or ways to separate your full-time job and your side hustle,” she suggests. “For example, you could request to work from home, take a sabbatical or negotiate a part-time schedule.” Finally, she notes “if the conflict cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to re-evaluate your priorities and make a decision about which responsibility is more important to you.”