How to Successfully Balance Your Side Hustle With Your Full-Time Job
“Side hustle” is a term that gets tossed around a lot these days. But, in case you’re unfamiliar with modern buzzwords, allow me to offer a brief definition. A side hustle is essentially an interest or passion—most likely something that you can treat as an income producer and business—that you pursue outside of your traditional nine-to-five job.
For example, I used to work a full-time gig in marketing before switching to the freelance life. But even though I was chained to my cubicle during standard working hours, I also completed numerous different freelance writing projects outside of work. Writing was my side hustle.
Today, the concept has become pretty trendy. It seems everyone has something they’re pursuing on the side—whether it’s writing, photography, graphic design, modeling, programming, or even being an Uber driver. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to find a way to vary their daily tasks and bring in some extra cash?
But while side hustles are great for fulfilling those requirements, they can also lead to a pretty packed schedule. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and balancing your full-time career with an outside gig can leave you spread a little thin. So, you need to implement a few tactics and strategies to ensure you’re making the most of the time you have—without risking burnout.
Curious? I have six tips to help you balance your side hustle with your full-time position:
1. Be Prepared to Work
Let’s just get the most obvious piece of the puzzle out of the way immediately, shall we? Anybody who has ever worked a full-time job will admit to the fact that it can take a significant bite out of your daily schedule. There are many times when you’ll feel like all you do is wake up, work, sleep, and then repeat—it’s easy to assume there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do anything else.
It’s important to remember that if you’re trying to start or grow your side hustle, it’s only going to add one more heaping serving to your already full plate. So you need to be prepared to buckle down and hustle—because it’s not called a side hustle for nothing.
You need to be prepared to buckle down and hustle—because it's not called a side hustle for nothing.
If you’re fully committed, it might mean passing on some fun nights out with friends or recording your favorite show only to finally find time to watch a whole week after it aired. It’ll seem like a sacrifice in the heat of the moment, but it pays off in the end. Think of your side hustle as a marathon, not a sprint.
2. Keep Boundaries Clear
Juggling all of the tasks and responsibilities that are a part of your normal 9 to 5 can already be difficult. But when you’re trying to manage your side hustle in addition to your existing career? The art of juggling only gets tougher. However, it's a skill you'll need to perfect in order to truly achieve successful balance.
You might think that the hardest part of managing these two different commitments would be finding the time to do them both. However, I can tell you that successfully dividing your time between them usually proves to be an even bigger challenge.
It’s important to set strict boundaries for yourself. Do not complete side hustle-related projects, answer emails, or take phone calls during your normal working hours. Similarly, set expectations for yourself as far as what “off hours” you’ll treat as side hustle time, and what ones are set aside for relaxation and socializing.
Establishing these restrictions helps you better manage the time you do have and also prevents your boss from getting irritated. As you can understand, no supervisor wants you using company time for outside projects.
3. Communicate Expectations
When I started freelancing while still working full-time, I admittedly felt a little shady—like I was doing something forbidden behind my boss’ back. While we eventually had the conversation about my projects and other ambitions (which, honestly, wasn’t that bad), I wish I had opened that door much sooner.
It might seem awkward or even counterintuitive, but I believe it’s important to talk to your boss about the fact that you’re working a side gig. Not only will it prevent your manager from feeling like you were dishonest or sneaky, but it can also be a great asset to you.
Perhaps your boss knows a few connections that could benefit from your skills and services. Or, maybe he or she is hosting an event in a few weeks that you could help out with or use to network with other professionals.
Even if your boss is less than excited about your outside projects, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re both on the same page. It’ll help to prevent any miscommunication or bitter feelings down the road.
4. Be Intentional With Your Time
You spend each weekday working at least eight hours. You try to squeeze a quick workout in after you leave the office. You need to cook dinner, clean your apartment, and pay bills. Oh, and not to mention, you’d still love to enjoy at least a little relaxation and something that slightly resembles a social life. When could you possibly find time to work on your side hustle?
I get it—life gets busy and time can be extremely limited. But, even if you’re short on hours, the key is to be intentional with the time that you do have.
What does this mean? Well, you need to eliminate distractions and zone in on the task at hand. But, beyond that, you also need to do your best to make use of every spare second you have in your day.
Those mornings you typically spend scrolling through Instagram before you leave for work? Use that time to answer a few emails. Your lunch break? Complete a few lingering side hustle tasks. Those weekend mornings you use for sleeping in? Wake up an hour or two earlier and get a jump start on the things you need to accomplish.
It's not always about how much time you have—it's about how well you use it.
Yes, you may be in a bit of a time crunch. But, it’s not always about how much time you have—it’s about how well you use it.
5. Figure Out Your Priorities
You knew prioritization had to appear somewhere on the list, right? When you’re already stretched thin, identifying the to-dos that are most crucial for success is an important part of the process.
You don’t need to think extremely big picture with this—although you can if you want to. Instead, when you sit down to crank out work for your side hustle, take a minute to think about your most important action items for that time period. What things do you need to get done in order to feel accomplished at the end of your work session? Jot those things down, and begin with only those.
It’s an elementary concept. But when you’re busy, your mind can become clouded and it’s all too easy to begin running around from project to project just attempting to put out as many fires as possible. I promise, this simple technique is effective.
6. Determine What You Can Outsource
Let’s face it—you’re not Superwoman. There are going to be days (and maybe even weeks or months) when you simply can’t get it all done yourself. This is where the beauty of outsourcing comes into play.
You're not Superwoman. There are going to be days (and maybe even weeks or months) when you simply can't get it all done yourself.
Think of what particular tasks and duties you’d love to have removed from your plate and see if you can hire outside help to take care of them. Perhaps you’ll contract with an accountant or company to handle all of your accounting. Or maybe you want to bring on a part-time assistant to help with shipping all of your orders. Whatever it is, having a few extra hands on deck typically isn’t a bad thing.
Even with just a full-time job, life can feel insanely busy at times. Throw a side gig on top of all of that? Well, it’s enough to have you tearing your hair out. But regardless of how packed your schedule feels, you can definitely successfully juggle your side hustle with your full-time career. Just put these tips into action and you’re well on your way!