How To Manage A Side Hustle While Working Full Time
So many of us dream of leaving behind the daily grind, with it’s draining commutes to and from the office and daily drop offs at daycare.
Add in unreasonable managers, irritating co-workers and having limited control over your schedule, and it’s no wonder you think about making the leap and working for yourself.
While it isn’t easy, it is possible to continue working full time, build and manage a side hustle, and get yourself to the point where you can comfortably and reasonably transition to being your own boss.
Before deciding that I’d had enough of running in the rat race and going full time with my business, I had a successful side hustle where I earned between $20k-$30k each of the three years I was in operation.
Side hustles take a lot of commitment, and require you to be incredibly well organized but they can pay off in dividends.
Here are my strategies for making a side hustle manageable while continuing to work full time.
Set Realistic Expectations
Setting and managing expectations of yourself, your time and how you’ll work with your clients is important. This is an area you’ll want to focus on right from the start, because it’s easy to quickly get pulled into the trap of “doing just a little bit more” because you want all the things, all at once..
Don’t do this!
Decide upfront how many hours per week or month you want to devote to your hustle and where you’re going to find that time in your schedule.
As a full time working mom this proved to be really hard because there are so few minutes of spare time each day that aren’t consumed with parenting and household management stuff.
My husband and I set up specific ‘work nights’ where after our son was in bed we’d both work on various projects, mine being my hustle, and his being get caught up on work email or other tasks he never had enough time to finish at the office.
Having these dedicated time blocks where we were both working, rather than the other indulging in a Netflix binge was really helpful. Support from my husband enabled this to work well and consistently let me meet deadlines.
We also agreed to my having time on weekend mornings where he’s typically still dozing and my son is watching cartoons, as a time that I could use to pursue my hustle.
Being mindful of the amount of time you’re putting towards your hustle and the trade offs this will inevitably require is important. Don’t expect to put in an extra 20 hours a week on top of your day job and stay sane.
If you’re realistic about the amount of time you actually have to devote to your hustle, this will keep you from over committing and stretching yourself too thin.
Focus On Your Goals
I’ll be the first to tell you that when I started my hustle it was never with the intention of turning it into my full time job. We were crunched for cash because of ridiculous child care costs and I wanted to find a way to help ease some of the pressure our family was under.
It helped that the first contract I picked up was directly related to one of my big interests and passions - maternal mental health.
Short term I was excited to have some additional work that would mean extra income, and it would keep me engaged. I had just finished my Master’s degree and found myself really bored and desperately in need of intellectual engagement - which my day job was certainly not providing.
The side hustle proved to be exactly what I needed to meet both of my short term goals, and it also allowed me to think about the future.
Suddenly the idea of being a lifetime corporate career gal wasn’t quite as exciting.
So I created lists of short, medium and long term goals as a way to help me decide when to push and when to pull back my efforts.
Short and medium term goals included things like adding a new client or increasing my revenue. Long term I started to think about full time self employment and what my options could look like if I decided to become an entrepreneur.
This meant evaluating my priorities - like having more flexibility with my schedule, and being able to live life on my terms rather than dictated by corporate policy.
By creating tangible goals that I could work towards, I was able to make better decisions about the work that I was interested in and willing to take on.
It also proved to be a big source of motivation when I was exhausted and facing a deadline.
Learn To Project Manage
This is one of the best skills that you can develop whether you’re working for yourself or someone else.
Effective project management will get you further towards meeting deadlines, keeping projects on track and delivering full value to your clients than any other skill.
And this doesn’t require fancy training or certifications either.
All you really need is a spreadsheet, calendar and a notebook.
Start by identifying your deadline and planning your milestones and due dates in reverse. Always allow yourself extra time before a deliverable is due because inevitably there will be something that causes a delay.
Break the project into chunks and assign due dates. If you’re working independently this is easy as it’s likely going to all come down to you, but also consider what information and input you’ll need from your client to be successful.
You can’t deliver a project if your client doesn’t respond you your emails or decides to go on vacation for two weeks and doesn’t let you know about their schedule.
Try to start each project off with a timeline, list of assigned tasks and basic communication norms (like how often you’ll provide a status update, or how long you’ll take to turn a document around) and share these with your client.
By organizing a project upfront you’re not only demonstrating to the client that you know what you’re doing, you’re also making your life a lot easier.
There are lots of great online tools that make project management and collaboration easier. Some of my favorites include Trello, for visual task management, Slack for team and client communication and the Google Suite for collaboration on documents.
So there you have it - three ways to make managing a side hustle while working full time a little bit easier. With a little planning and organization it is possible to pursue a hustle, and keep your day job while you get closer to full time self employment.
Thinking about making the leap to entrepreneurship and don’t know where to start? I’ve jammed all my best tips into a handy guide for professional working moms to make the leap a bit easier. It’s what I wish I had known before I started out. Download your copy by clicking below.