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  • Writer's pictureMary Kate McGowan

7 Tips for Balancing a Side-Hustle and Full-Time Job

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Balancing rocks

Balance. Balance. Balance. The two-syllable word is hard to achieve. But when you experience those moments where you know you’re closer to balancing your side-hustle and your full-time job, enjoy them. And then write how you got there to help you achieve balance again.

I started my side-hustle a few months ago, and it’s been a lot. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of my mental capacity. It’s a lot of creativity. It’s a lot of fun.

I started my side gig because I wanted to make sure I was being creative outside my day job as a writer/managing editor for an engineering magazine. As a perfectionist, my emotions and anxiety escalated from comparing my business with others and feeling insecure about my offerings.

I was comparing my side-hustle to people who have been in business for years. While it is helpful for me to aspire to grow my business, I constantly need to remind myself to give myself time, grace and patience.

On top of comparison fatigue, I was putting an immense amount of pressure on myself to succeed in my side gig. I was focusing so much time and energy trying to plant a firm foundation for my venture that I lost sight of my priorities: my full-time job (which I love) and intentional time with my friends and family.

I was burning myself out. My side-hustle was becoming unsustainable.

7 Tips for Balancing a Side-Hustle and Full-Time Job

When I came up for air, I realized a few tips to help balance a side-hustle with a full-time job:

(When you have no current plans to leave your full-time job. These tips might not apply to people who are actively trying to leave their full-time jobs.)

1. Keep your priorities straight.

This is hard to do. To prevent yourself from wandering away from your priorities. I recommend making a list of your top priorities (up to five). Keep that list near your workstation or in another visible location, so you can frequently see it to remember what is truly important to you.

2. Give yourself enough time.

Sometimes, you have to work on a time crunch. But that is not always the case. When you accept an assignment from a client and when you create your to-do list/schedule for the upcoming week, make sure you give yourself enough time to complete your work...without losing your mind.

When you give yourself enough time to complete your work, you create better quality work. Rushing against a deadline creates a fast-paced environment that just begs for simple (but dangerous) mistakes.

Giving yourself more time to complete your work/assignments also allows you to better balance your side-hustle and full-time workload. If you know you have an intense week coming up at your full-time job, plan for an easier, lighter week in your side-hustle.

3. Schedule rest nights.

Recharging is essential for the health of your side-hustle and yourself. Taking at least one night off a week helps give you time to recharge. Instead of working, read a fun book or go out to dinner with your family/friends. Talking to other people and reading about new ideas and places can help inspire your creativity to continue crafting quality stories and products for your clients.

4. Plan.

Knowing what you need to start/work on/complete for your side-hustle during the week ahead can help decrease any anxiety around your workload and help you better plan your time (and your rest nights.)

Planning your week can be hard, but here are two simple strategies to help:

  • Make a list of everything you want to do for your side-hustle that week. No matter how large or small, write it down!

  • Write your tasks down in the same place every week. Keeping all your tasks in one place can help you make this a habit, but it also prevents the panic of when you cannot find your to-do list! I suggest Trello or a notebook.

5. Don’t overload yourself.

When you write your to-do list, go back and mark which tasks you HAVE to complete or start that week. This will help cut down the number of things on your to-do list and help you meet deadlines with less panic.

6. Prioritize what you HAVE to focus on versus what you WANT to focus on (in your side-hustle).

I suffer from shiny object syndrome. When I have the choice to focus on something new to me or something I’ve been doing for months, I typically choose the novel, shiny object. But this can lead to procrastination and increased anxiety.

To protect against this happening again or to you, I suggest writing a goals list for your next week, month, three months and six months. These lists make sure you properly slot when to work on older projects versus new programs. And it also helps you not forget your goals.

Once you do that, make a note of each task’s deadline. This way, you’ll prevent missing deadlines.

If you have a heavy week at your full-time job, be mindful of what you HAVE to do with your side-hustle during that same time period.

7. Never forget quality over quantity.

When you have a lot to do and not much time to do them in, make sure you remember a content creation tenant: quality over quantity. If you create poor quality work, that is not worth your time and stress. To prevent this, give yourself enough time and prioritize your needs.


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