Your full-time job finishes at 6pm. You jump straight into your side hustle. In the zone, you work until midnight. Repeat the next day. And on the weekend. Back to the main job at 9am Monday.
After consecutive days of this routine, BAM. Exhaustion hits.
- Thinking feels like a chore 😬
- Talking to friends feels like a chore 💬
- Anxiousness fills your chest but doesn’t subside 🏃🏽
- Sleeplessness kicks in 😴
- Overwhelm creeps up 😑
This pattern would often happen whilst juggling my (then) side hustle, ContentUK, with a full-time Content Manager role.
It wasn’t sustainable! Limiting the time spent on my side project, prioritising self-care and reframing tasks helped reduce a lot of stress.
Hopefully, these tactics will help if you’re juggling a side gig with your main job too.
Limit the time spent on your side hustle (even if you’re having fun)
Enforcing time parameters on your side gig pushes you to get the most important s**t done to move the needle forward. Plus you get more headspace and energy.
No Work Sundays
I found No Work Sundays to be the most useful thing I introduced to balance full-time work with side work. It was like a reset button. By Monday my mind would be rested.
Introducing a No Work Sundays rule can stop overwhelm in its tracks after a busy week. This may mean prioritising ‘urgent’ tasks and letting the small stuff drop.
Cut-off times on weekdays
As well as a day off a week, try other ways to limiting the amount of time you work on your side-hustle:
- Stop all side-gig work after 8:30pm
- Only work in the morning before your main job, not evenings
- Have some “ 0 side-hustle work” days per week
- Give yourself X hours on your side project per week to be allocated across evenings, mornings before work, weekends
Time constraints help you to focus on the most important tasks connected to your business.
If you have no will power...
If you’re like me, relying on will power alone to minimise working time is ineffective. Here are some techniques you can introduce:
- ✈️ Put your phone on plane mode from 8:30pm to limit working in evenings
- ❌ Use an internet blocking app. I’ve recently started using Freedom (aff link)
- 📨 Remove work email from your phone
- ⌚️ Track the time spent on your side-project. You could use an app like Timo
- ☎️ Book in a call with a friend at the time you’re meant to stop working. This commitment can prevent the ‘ah just one more hour’ thinking patterns as you can’t let your friend down!
Accept that you'll have to move slower than others
It’s easy to look at others building businesses full-time and feel you’re falling behind.
- “They’re moving faster”
- “Their offering is much better”
- “They’re more of an expert”
You only have a few hours to work on your side-hustle per week. Of course you can’t move at the same speed.
The people you’re comparing yourself to might be working on their businesses full-time. They may have a less pressured main job, more resources, more experience of running businesses.
It doesn’t matter. There’s no rush. There’s room for everyone! Go at your own pace and enjoy the experience :)
Focus on the ONE thing can do to push your project forward
You have limited time for your side-hustle when working full-time. You don’t need to do everything on your to-list to take your project to the next step. You don’t need to launch all your planned features to get happy customers.
In Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book, The ONE Thing, they drill down the power of a simple thought exercise to help you focus on one thing at a time.
They recommend regularly asking yourself the question:
“What’s the one thing I can do, such that by doing so everything becomes easier or unnecessary?”
It’s simple thought exercise but so anchoring.
Here’s an example of the exercise in action. Let’s assume you have created a guide that you want to sell. You want it on a landing page in 3 weeks.
Goal: publish a landing page for a paid guide
#1 What’s the one thing I can do to publish a landing page for my guide in 3 weeks such that by doing so everything becomes easier or unnecessary?
To get a draft landing page uploaded to Gumroad
#2 What’s the one thing I can do to have a landing page on Gumroad in 2 weeks such that by doing so everything becomes easier or unnecessary?
To have written the copy for the landing page
#3 What’s the one thing I could do to write the landing page copy in 1 week such that by doing so everything becomes easier or unnecessary?
Researched landing page best practice from others’ selling courses on Gumroad
#4 What’s the one thing I could do to learn about landing page best practices today such that by doing so everything becomes easier or unnecessary?
Asked 5 other people with excellent Gumroad pages what their best resources are for making pages that convert
This is a handy exercise to do if you’re in a state where everything seems important but you have limited time.
If you’re working round the clock on your main job then your side gig, it’s so important to take breaks. These are 2 small acts of self-care you can do that take 10-20 minutes
Out of your mind, into your body. I found Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day challenge to be an excellent starting place for yoga newbie. Her videos are ~20 minutes long and she focuses the sessions around a message of self-care. There’s also Yoga with Tim for a level up from beginners. His sessions are slightly longer.
Even 10 minutes of stretching your body can do wonders to get out of your thinking mind.
Meditation can help you spot the signs of overwhelm creeping up. If you can catch feelings of anxiousness in your chest and signs of stress as they begin to creep up, you’re in a better position to acknowledge them and shut your laptop. Meditation apps are handy for getting started such as Headspace, Calm or Matt Harris’s one.
Follow intense bursts of work time out
Despite our best intentions to prioritise healthy habits, the reality is, it’s hard to build a side business when working full-time. Even if you value the ideal of work-life balance, you can still end up working ridiculous hours.
Whilst preparing to transition ContentUK from a free to paid community, I had a date in mind to go live and booked a ‘launch day’ off my main job. Fuelled by the deadline, I was working until 3am regularly, working all weekends, ignoring friends and not sleeping properly for a few months. I got it shipped but felt horrific afterwards. This then got me introducing the healthier habits mentioned in this post.
Short bursts of intense work to launch something is okay from time to time! But not sustainable or healthy or fun in the long-term.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully you find some of these techniques as useful as I did when juggling full-time work with a side hustle 🙂