Finding Balance Between Your Real Job and Your Side Gig

Twenty-somethings are hustlers! We have fiery passion and unrelenting ambition. We set our minds on what we want and chase it down. For many of us, the jobs that we get right out of school don’t align with our passions and ambition, but we refuse to let that get the best of us.

We find opportunities beyond work that allow us to gain experience, build networks, and engage with likeminded individuals in alignment with what really makes us tick. Though we appreciate the experience, working relationships, and additional income, taking on these “side gigs” can sometimes stretch us thin.

As a high school special education teacher, a contributing writer for GenTwenty, and a freelance writer, I’ve felt stretched thin my fair share of times. Although I can still get caught up, a few mindset changes have helped make it easier to juggle these responsibilities.

(1)   Change your mindset; change your life.

So many people get caught in the hoopla of ticking tasks off a to-do list that they fail to assess their mindset and its impact on how they approach life and its responsibilities. In a conversation with my boyfriend when I was whining about having so much to do, he told me that I needed to see my job and my contributions to GenTwenty, both of which I love, with an “obligation versus opportunity” outlook.

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Being a high school special education teacher and a contributing writer for GenTwenty are both incredible opportunities. Teaching and writing are both opportunities for me to reach others, to affect their thought processes and mindsets, and to share lessons that my 25 years on Earth have taught me. Though they involve various responsibilities, they are not obligations to tick off of a list.

I chose to pursue and fulfill both opportunities. Reminding myself of this “obligation vs. opportunity” perspective keeps me calm and in tune with the bounty that teaching and writing both bring. Sure, time gets a little tight sometimes, but maintaining my perspective – remembering that each was my choice – really helps.

(2)   Maximize your time.

For some people, maximizing time requires a schedule; that’s what’s best for me. A schedule lets me break my day down into 30-minute increments and plug in everything that has to happen including downtime. (I’m that person who will work, work, work days on end – and then realize that I have barely eaten or slept well, so scheduling breaks and setting cutoff times are necessary.)

For others, it simply requires making a list, setting a deadline, and knowing that you have no choice but to get it done. Another tip about maximizing time is making sure that you work when you are supposed to work. Putting it on paper is the first step, but honoring the time you’ve set aside for the work you’ve decided to do requires more discipline. If you schedule 5 pm to 6:30 pm as side-gig time, honor that commitment to yourself, your development, and your craft. If it was important enough for you to desire a side hustle, it’s important enough for committed time and follow-through.

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(3)   Keep them separate.

Work is work; side gig is side gig. Working on your side gig at work is a good way to be reprimanded for mismanagement of time. Understand that your work responsibilities require your undivided attention, and the organization that employs you deserves to have its time (and money since it is paying you to contribute to its bottom line) respected.

Now, I’m not saying that during breaks or when you have an idea on a whim that you can’t stop and jot it down. By all means, do so! I “brain dump” for GenTwenty during breaks and passing periods or in the midst of paperwork all the time. Getting it out of my head lets me focus on what I really need to do at work. Keeping them separate also encourages you to honor the timeframe you have allotted for certain tasks.

We all want to be our best and do our best at everything – job, side gig, relationships, everything. I’m still working on this balancing act, and I probably will be for the rest of my life.

Leave a comment and share how you juggle it all!