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May 30, 2018
As of July 2017, more than 44 million Americans are working a side hustle and in my personal opinion, that number is just going to keep on growing.
A majority of side-hustlers are between the ages of 18-26, and 36% of them are earning more than $500 per month. If you fall into this category, you know that building and maintaining a successful side hustle in addition to starting or growing a full-time career is not for the faint of heart.
People start side hustles for all sorts of different reasons; to pay down their debt faster, to save up for a large purchase, as an exit strategy from their corporate career, or even just because they love the hustle.
Whatever your reason might be, I commend you. It take serious time, effort, dedication, and heart to make the sacrifices necessary to make your side hustle work, and it’s definitely not always easy.
Throughout my dual-career-tenure as a full-time web designer for an online retailer, and a solopreneur side-hustler running my own branding and web design business, I’ve learned a thing or two about balance and today I’m here to share with you my 5 Tips For Balancing Your Side Hustle With Your 9-5.
Here we go!
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I was a serial-snoozer for quite literally my entire life until about a year ago, so trust me when I tell you that I know this feels completely ridiculous, if not impossible.
Waking up early is rough. And even more so when it’s dark outside, your bed is nice and warm, and you know you have a mountain of work to do that you’re not super stoked about.
But here’s the thing, the early bird really does get the worm.
If you don’t believe me, check out these stats. The Huffington Post says that 90% of executives wake up before 6am on weekdays, and a whopping 50% of self-made millionaires wake up at least three hours before their workday actually begins.
If you’re the side-hustlin’ boss babe that I think you are, then my guess is that you want to be included in that group of self-made millionaires someday, right?
Since I started waking up just one hour earlier, I have been able to restructure my entire day and save myself a whole lot of “I don’t have time to do all the things” stress.
My typical weekday schedule now looks a little like this:
5:30am: Wake up, brush teeth, shower
6:00am: Drink a cup of coffee and read a business/mindset book for 20-30 mins
6:30am: Answer side-hustle emails
7:00am: Finish getting ready and head in to my “9-5”
8:30am-4:30pm: Work at “9-5”
5:00pm: Workout or go for a walk
7:00pm: Work on side-hustle client work
9:00pm: Relax and wind-down
I now have time to fit in all of my necessary work, side-hustle, fitness, family, and self-care activities without feeling rushed or guilty for spending time on myself, and let me tell you it feels great.
Especially considering that if you’d asked me this a year ago, I would have had to tell you about how I was snoozing my alarm until 7, going to work with wet hair, and eating a granola bar or leftover pizza while simultaneously doing my makeup at the stoplights on my way into the office, never mind taking days at a time to reply to client emails, and never EVER having time for a workout or reading a book!
I know the idea of waking up earlier and *gasp* sacrificing sleep is daunting, but you can easily start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier, and waking up 15 minutes earlier. When you get used to that, move up to 30 minutes, and then an hour, and so on until you feel like you’ve nailed down the right routine for you!
I am inclined to believe that if you’re the kind of person who genuinely wants to maintain a side hustle along with working their 9-5, then you’re probably already pretty organized. If, however, your version of organized is more of the “go-with-the-flow” organized chaos type, then this one’s for you.
Setting and sticking to a schedule in my life and business has been immeasurably helpful in my ability to get everything done without cutting corners or losing my mind. This doesn’t need to be something where you block out your time every minute of every day, though if that’s what works for you then you should totally do it!
Instead, I recommend dedicating each day of the week to one to three overarching themes or topics that you will focus on. If you’re working a 9-5, then that will take up one for each day you work.
Here is how I schedule my week:
Monday: Work | Workout | Side-Hustle
Tuesday: Work | Date Night w/ Fiance
Wednesday: Work | Workout | Side-Hustle
Thursday: Work | Side-Hustle
Friday: Work | Workout | Self-Care
Saturday: Workout | Side-Hustle | Personal/home responsibilities
Sunday: Self Care
Planning my weeks out this way, allows me to know how much time I will have for each area of my life so that I can avoid over-scheduling, and ensures that I take enough time for myself and the people that I love.
It’s also loose enough, that when I need to squeeze something in last minute, I can do so without having to re-arrange the entire rest of my week.
Whatever form of scheduling works for you is awesome! Just find a way to plan out your weeks in advance so that you’re not surprised, spread too thin, or burnt out come Friday night. And bonus points if you can stick to a similar schedule each week – this will help you get in a routine and minimize any stress or anxiety related to planning, scheduling, or time management.
“Self-care” is a term that is thrown around a whole lot in the creative/online business world. When I first heard the phrase I thought to myself, “well I try to eat healthy and sometimes I sleep for 6 or 7 hours per night..that’s taking care of myself, right?” . . . wrong!
Self-care is vitally important to our physical and mental health, as well as the health of our business. The good news is, self-care can look like whatever works for you!
For me, self care includes a slow morning routine, running or doing a quick workout whenever I can, and making sure I get plenty of puppy snuggles. For someone else, it might look like daily yoga practice, journaling, and a french press all to themselves every morning.
Prioritizing self care will help you prevent overload and burnout, reduce the negative effects of stress. Click To Tweet
Prioritizing self care will help you prevent overload and burnout, reduce the negative effects of stress (because we all know that side-hustling comes with at least a little stress), and can help you center yourself and refocus on what’s most important in your life and business.
If the concept of self care is totally new and sounds a little crazy to you, I would challenge you to think of one thing every day that you can do for the sole purpose of making yourself happy. Paint your nails, go for a walk, call a friend, whatever that looks like for you, just start somewhere.
If you’ve been working your side-hustle for a while now, you probably already know that there are going to be both busy times, and slow times.
In my experience both running my own business and watching friends and clients run theirs, most of us only feel like we’re doing well when we’re busy.
If you’ve ever listened to Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast or follow her on social media, you’ve probably heard her say “Busy is not a badge of honor,” and I think there’s definitely something to that.
“Busy is not a badge of honor,” Click To Tweet
While it feels absolutely amazing to have so many clients and customers coming to you that you feel like you might not be able to keep up, it’s important to remember that you can’t sustain that pace of work forever and also that sometimes your best business growth happens during the slow times.
Over the last year I have tried to embrace the slow seasons in my business by using them to focus on my own branding, strategy, offerings, etc. and it has proved to be a much better use of my time than sitting around moping about the clients I don’t have or posting “will work for free” ads on Craigslist (ok I’ve never done that last one, thank goodness!).
When I started to shift my mindset and priorities during the slow seasons, things started to change. Not only did the work always pick back up again, often sooner than I even expected, but I also started finding it much easier to find, talk to, and work with clients because I had already spent so much time refining my process and getting clear about who I wanted to work with and what I was offering.
Finding something useful to channel your energy in when things are slower than you’d like in your business will not only help you keep your head up, but it can also grow and improve your business in ways that you might never have the time or opportunity to otherwise.
As cliche as this sounds, it might also be the most important tip of all.
When I first started out side-hustling I felt completely alone. Sure I had a couple of clients who were willing to pay me to do what I loved, and that felt amazing, but beyond that it really all felt sort of. . . empty.
If I had a question about something I wanted to do in my business, I didn’t really have anyone to ask.
If I was dealing with a difficult client and needed to complain, there wasn’t anybody around who really understood.
If I had a cool idea for some new design style or project I wanted to try, I could try talking to my fiancé about it, but he never really understood what I was trying to say and usually I just wound up getting frustrated with him.
I knew I needed to find other people who “got it”, so I started searching. I googled every search term you could think of related to running an online business, freelance graphic design, small business ownership, and everything in between.
Eventually I found a few blogs and websites that interested me, and I got on their email lists and joined their facebook groups.
I was loving the interactions I was having, and it was SO nice to be able to post a question in a facebook group and get ten or twenty quality responses from other people who were in my exact position, doing the same thing I’m doing and asking the same questions I was asking. I finally felt like there were other people out there who understood where I was at and genuinely wanted to help me succeed.
I finally felt like there were other people out there who understood where I was at and genuinely wanted to help me succeed. Click To Tweet
Eventually I also hired a coach and joined Copper Kettle Co’s Launch Brand Grow Community. Both of these things have been completely transformative for my business and my self-confidence and mental state around owning a business.
I can honestly say if I hadn’t found this amazing tribe of mine, I wouldn’t be where I am in my business and I certainly wouldn’t feel as balanced, centered, and happy as I do right now.
So seriously, if you’re going to take only one tip from this post to heart, go find your tribe. Right now.
Seriously…go do it. Make friends, and be awesome, and be you and it will all come together.
Tell us, do you have a side hustle alongside your 9-5? How do you find balance? What has been your biggest challenge? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!
Morgan is a branding and web designer who works with adventurers, artisans, and passionate small businesses owners. She helps her clients bring their best vision for your business to life through branding and website design that infuses who they are with what they do! When she’s not daydreaming on Pinterest, you can find Morgan exploring a new outdoor spot with her best four-legged adventure buddy Remi, cuddled up in front of the fireplace with some room-temperature coffee and a good book, or trying her hand at some new form of creative expression like pottery, watercolor painting, or photography.
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