Daniel Nisbet

Episode 44  |  June 5, 2018

How to juggle side work while having a day job

For many people, freelancing starts by juggling side work while maintaining a full time job. While it looks super easy, especially for those who share their process on Instagram, or Twitter, or Dribbble, you'll begin to quickly realize it's a lot of work to juggle.

I've been through that same issue. It's something I still struggle with today, but I've adjusted my process and expectations to make it easier to manage. Bottom line: it doesn't have to be as hard as I was making it out to be.

Weekends and weeknights are your friend

You likely don't have much time during the day—maybe a lunch hour to work on some side work. But doing it any of your work on a weeknight or weekend is where it's at.

For me, Sunday nights are pure gold. If you think about it: Friday and Saturday nights are often when people want to go out on the town or let loose. No one wants to focus on work. For some of us though, Sunday nights are when we're winding down from our weekend and taking it easy.

If you're like me, and you've got a job that you don't 100% dread going into in the morning, scheduling time to work on Sunday nights is perfect. As a matter of fact, this podcast often gets recorded on Sunday evenings before work. It's the one time I can count on week in and week out. I know that I'll always be in my office or in my studio to record shows.

Schedule your work

I know this is out of character for some. But knowing that you've scheduled time on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings to sit down and work is super helpful. It helps with procrastination or not getting things done soon enough.

Make a to do list

While you're at it, putting together a to do list of what you need to do can be super helpful. The tough part with side projects, is there's a lot more stop and go than what we're used to. It's a change from working full time or if you are or were a freelancer.

On your to do list, make sure that you list out every single step of your project. It's easy to think that you can put in general things on your to do list. However, its easier to skip over things that way.

How nitty gritty should you get? For example, if you're doing a logo, that means listing out brainstorming, sketching, and scanning and outlining your work. Be sure it's as specific as you can possibly make it

Give yourself time—and lots of it

It's so easy to think you don't need as much time to complete something when you're chipping away it in smaller pieces. I fall into a trap where my old freelance “full time job brain” expects that I can get things done in a certain timeframe.

It would be true if I had 40 hours a week to dedicated to my work. When you're working on it as a side project, you don't get a full eight hours or the luxury that goes with being dedicated over a long period of time. You have to sit and consider what extra amount of time you're going to need to do something.

What once took you one week working full time might end up taking you three weeks working on it part time. Always remember that time adds up if you have to start and stop more often.

Work ahead if you're sharing on social media

I know for a lot of people working with social media can be great place to share progress. It can even be a bit of a time suck! Something that's helped me out is, whatever you're sharing to social media, try and work ahead at least a week or two.

It helps keep you on track if things happen, or life happens. You might not always get to your schedule. You might fall behind on your to do list.

Working ahead lets you keep up with a regular posting schedule. If you fall behind, you still have content to share and keep the discussions going.

It all adds up and makes it look like you're on top of your work, but gives you a cushion if you need it. And when you're doing side work, you need all the tips and tricks you can get!