6 Ways to Manage a Side Hustle Without Going Insane

Note: This is a re-post of a guest blog I did for Brazen Careerist (GREAT discussion happening in the comments) to promote our upcoming 30-minute webinar and Network Roulette tomorrow (launch day!) at 5EST/8PST. During the webinar I'll share my career development philosophy and side hustle tips for 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of Q&A; after that we'll head into a 30-minute Network Roulette where the first five people to get paired with me will win signed copies of Life After College. Join us if you can, and stay tuned for an exiting launch day post tomorrow! :)

6 Ways to Manage a Side Hustle Without Going Insane

Side hustles (a term I first heard from Pam Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation) are all the rage these days. A side hustle is anything you are doing outside of your full-time job (you know...the one that pays the bills), and often involves an entrepreneurial enterprise of some sort -- something you’re building on your own for personal satisfaction and for profit.

As Pam says, “Everybody needs a side hustle.”

Side hustles are great for the following reasons:

1. They allow you to experiment with business ideas without the pressure of trying to make your full income from them right away.

2. They are great for self-expression and self-identity -- you get to build a business (or a blog) around something you are passionate about; you get to be your own boss and set your own strategy.

3. They create a parallel career track that you could leap over to at some point -- or if you were to lose your “day job” -- you would already have a bank of skills and experiences that could either create a new income stream or help you land your next gig.

However, side hustles are not for the faint of heart:

1. You essentially have two jobs. 2. Work/life balance becomes even more challenging -- nights and weekends are easily consumed by one of the two. 3. You risk giving each scattered focus, which could result in a sub-par position on both if you don’t correct course.

A little bit about me:

My 3-Year Side Hustle (Picture from my first book signing!)

I’ve been managing side hustles -- gigs in addition to my full-time jobs -- for over six years. When I was working at a start-up company after college, I started doing web development tutoring on the side (which was a great way for me to grow my skills, earn extra spending money, and learn how to find and work with clients). Then in 2007, I started this blog while working full-time at Google in Training & Development. In 2008, I started the process of writing a book and training to become a life coach.

By the time I got the book deal in 2010, my side hustle (author, blogger, coach, speaker and yoga teacher extraordinaire) had become a full time job in itself. Paired with the intense, fast-paced environment of managing global programs through my work at Google (I am a Career Development Program Manager though currently on a 3-month sabbatical) -- it has been all I could do to maintain my sanity these last three years!

With that, I share some tips with you to help you keep your marbles together during the exciting pursuit of what you love.

6 Tips to Keep Your Sanity While Side Hustlin':

1. Draw clear boundaries and create routine. Draw clear boundaries for when you will work on your side hustle. Nights and weekends? Just weekends? No weekends? I chose nights and Sunday afternoons for mine (at least until things got really ramped up with the book, when I found myself working through most weekends). Drawing boundaries will help you stay focused and stay sane -- you will never get everything done, but you will at least know what your “big push” windows are.

2. Be transparent with your employer. I realize not everyone feels that they can share what they work on outside of the office with their manager -- but to the extent that you can, this may actually help him or her support you and give you projects related to your area/s of interest. In my case, it helped tremendously to share what I was doing. Because I’ve kept Google in the loop, they felt comfortable letting me take a 3.5-month unpaid leave of absence to promote the book.

3. Set goals for your side hustle. What are you trying to build? How much extra income are you trying to generate? With limited time to work on your pet project, you will need to be laser focused on what you’re trying accomplish and by when.

4. For bloggers -- assume everything you write will be read by your boss and every co-worker. Does it still pass the “publishable” test? I’m not trying to censor you, but there is a level of discretion required when writing outside of your day job. I can’t tell you how many co-workers of mine reference my blog posts when they run into me -- many of whom I had never met in person prior to our interaction.

5. Stay committed to your social life and be clear about your mission with friends and family. I have made the mistake (far too many times) of letting my two jobs suck up every second of my spare time (partly because I am so motivated to make my side hustle successful). So don’t forget to get out of the house every now and then! Do what you can to enroll friends and family in what you’re doing too -- it’s likely that you will see them less as you ramp up your side hustle -- at least for a period of time. If they know what your greater mission is, they will hopefully understand the times you have to to buckle-down and provide support in the process (though don’t get discouraged if they don’t -- not everyone will see your vision right away).

6. Unplug, recharge, and TAKE A VACATION. No matter how energized you are by what you are doing outside of your full-time, everyone needs a break...or you’ll soon be headed for a break-DOWN. Take it from a girl who has had several hair-pulling hot mess moments over the last few years -- vacations (in which you totally unplug from both jobs) are critical to maintaining your sanity while you juggle. I recently took a week off for SXSW and a spontaneous road-trip detour to Las Vegas -- even though I fell far behind during a critical time for the book launch, the relationships I built and memories I created were unforgettable. No side hustle is worth depriving yourself completely of life’s best moments. After all, isn’t creating MORE of that why we’re doing it in the first place?

Side hustles are a lot of work, but they can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s an amazing feeling to build something of your own and watch it grow.

For those of you already hustlin’ -- what did I miss? How do you maintain your sanity while growing your business while working a full-time job?

Want to learn more? Join us for a LIVE 30-minute webinar and Network Roulette on Tuesday, March 29 at 5PST/8EST (with a chance to win one of FIVE signed copies of Life After College)!