Is it possible to balance your side hustle with your full-time job?
I’ve always dreamed of starting my own business, but without a trust fund to fall back on, I had no choice but to get a job.
Fast forward 6 months and I was having a breakdown. After sleeping 4 hours a night, working every waking moment on either my side hustle or my “proper” job, and surviving on frozen foods, my body had had enough.
I had to find a better way. Quitting my job wasn’t an option, yet. That’s how I paid my rent and put food on the table. More importantly, that paycheck gave me the opportunity to invest in my business, so that I could grow it faster.
There was no way I was gonna give up on my dream, either. I had been down that road before. It only leads to regret and resentments.
That’s when it hit me: I didn’t have to work harder. I had to work smarter.
Here’s everything I’ve learned about how to balance your side hustle with your full-time job without burning out in the process:
1. Set Smart Goals
Imagine you’re in Rome and want to drive all the way to Milan. You know you have to head north, but without a map or GPS, you’ll likely take plenty of wrong turns.
The same applies to starting a business or writing a book. These goals are too vague. Daunting. They feel so big and out of reach, you’ll feel like giving up before you even get started.
Instead than focusing on your big dream, figure out what first step you need to take and create a smart goal around it.
A SMART goals is:
- Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve? The more specific the goal, the better.
- Measurable: How are you gonna know if you’ve reached your goal? How will you measure success?
- Achievable: Do you have the time, money, knowledge and anything else you may need to achieve your goal?
- Realistic: Is the goal relevant to your life? Do you want to achieve it for the right reasons?
- Timely: When is your deadline?
I moved to London to pursue writing and blogging full time, but in the meantime I took a job as a personal assistant to pay the bills. The job took so much of my time, I only had a couple of hours a day to dedicate to my side hustle.
I knew I didn’t have the time to be on 5 different social networks, write blog posts, create videos and do all the things. Instead, I asked myself, “What do I want to achieve with my blog right now?”
My goal was to reach 100,000 pageviews a month within 3 months (keep in mind that I was averaging 80K pageviews by this point) so I could apply for AdThrive, the best-paying ad network, and bring in some extra money to further invest in growing the blog.
I decided the best way to achieve that was to focus on Pinterest. I spent the next few months polishing up my profile, create stunning pins that’d catch people’s attention, and contributing to tribes and group boards.
If I found myself doing busy work – like tweaking my blog theme or spending too much time on Instagram – I reminded myself I was wasting the precious little time I had on tasks that wouldn’t help me reach my goals. It was hard work, but it worked.
2. Make Time For Your Side Hustle
If you wait to have the time to work on your side hustle, you’ll never do it. Make the time.
Think about your schedule. Where can you fit in a hour or two a day (or at least a week) to work on your dream?
When I first started working as a personal assistant, I tried working on my blog in the evenings. It didn’t work.
By the time I got home, I was too tired to do any serious work. It took me an hour to create 3 images for Pinterest, couldn’t string two sentences together for the description, and my eyes were starting to get blurry. All I wanted to do was eat dinner and chill with a book or watch a movie.
I bet a lot of you feel the same. After a long day’s work, the last thing you want is more work!
Next, I decided to wake up at 6am, so I would have a couple of hours to work on my blog before going to work. I’m very much a morning person. That’s when I have the most energy and focus, so this worked much better for me.
Maybe you don’t like waking up early. That’s fine. Can you carve out some time during the weekend? Work on your side hustle on the commute to work or on your lunch break? Even if it’s only 30 minutes, it all adds up overtime.
P.S. Once you’ve decided when to work on your side hustle, add the slot to your calendar. If it isn’t scheduled, it often doesn’t get done.
Don’t like using a physical calendar? Click on the image below to download the Weekly Planner. It features a digital calendar + productivity tips to help you make the most of your time.
3. Outsource As Soon As You Can
It’s catch 22: you’re waiting for your side hustle to bring in millions before you hire help, but without help you can’t grow your business enough to bring in the millions.
That’s where keeping your day job comes in handy. You can use some of that money to outsource important tasks that you don’t enjoy doing or are not too skilled at.
When I decided to start my side hustle, I hired an accountant to do my tax return. Could I have done it myself? Sure, but I hate math and it would have been a huge source of stress for me. I would also have ended up paying more in taxes – I had no idea how many expenses were tax-deductible before he told me!
The next step was to hire a part-time VA to handle my social media and other small admin tasks. This terrified me. Could I really justify the monthly expense?
I shouldn’t have worried. Once Jenna took over some of my tasks, I had more time to work on my SMART goals, the tasks that really moved the needle forward. Within a few short times, I had doubled my income!
FYI, you don’t need to hire full-time employees at this stage. You can use freelancers to grow your business and pay only for the few hours a week they work for you or on a project basis. You can find some really talented people on Fiverr and Upwork that’ll be more than happy to help you build your empire.
4. Surround Yourself With Supportive People
Not everyone will understand why you’re starting a side hustle. They’ll think you’re wasting your time, will go nowhere, and should just stick to your day job.
Ignore these people. They’re trying to scare you off your dreams because they’re too scared to pursue theirs.
I know it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re working with them, or they’re family. You can’t cut them out of your life completely. But you can spend less time with them.
Instead, surround yourself with people who get, encourage and support you. You’ll need them when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up – which, let’s face it, when you’re starting out is every other day!
Look for peers who are build their own side hustles or have been there and done that. They won’t just give you emotional support, but will offer useful advice on how to overcome the challenges you’re facing now.
If you don’t know anyone yet, don’t worry. Join a club. Go to networking events. Hang out on Facebook groups. Email your fave bloggers. It’s never been easier to build your tribe.
Here are a few of my fave communities:
5. Take The Time For Self-Care
I’m not gonna lie. Even when you follow all the tips above, you’ll still have to work harder than you ever worked before.
You’ll find yourself staying home late so you can finish an article, skipping a workout so you can work on your social media strategy, or saying no to dinner with your BFF so you can go to another networking event.
Don’t. You need self-care now more than ever. Going out with a friend, hitting the gym and getting a good’s night sleep aren’t distractions that take time away from your side hustle. They’re the fuel that gives you the energy to work on it every day.
I learned this the hard way. Before I decided to wake up two hours earlier in the mornings, I’d spend every waking moment working, either for my boss or on my side hustle.
After 6 months, my body had enough. I feel ill. The day before I was supposed to attend an important award event where I could have networked with influencers in my industry.
I missed out on a great opportunity because I refused to listen to my body’s hints that I needed to slow down. Don’t make the same mistake.
Take care of yourself so you can be healthy and strong to achieve your SMART goals. Everything else can wait.
Over to you, now. How do you balance your side hustle with your full-time job? Share your experience in the comments below.