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A Guest Post by Victoria Greene.
The portfolio career lifestyle is an increasingly attractive proposition for those of us who yearn to pursue multiple interests. Instead of having one full-time position, those with portfolio careers may have several part-time or freelance jobs, or supplement their full-time role with a lucrative side hustle. Flexibility and independence beckon – yet for the busy career juggler, a smart, hardworking and proactive approach is key.
Having a successful portfolio career could be as simple as freelancing or running online store alongside your full-time job at another company. While it’s not for everyone, it’s the ideal solution for multipotentialites, opening doors into a diverse range of industries. Here are 6 must-have mantas for the busy career juggler to avoid crashing and burning.
Look after number 1
If you’re taking on more than one job, you should be keenly aware of keeping yourself happy and well in order to do each one justice. Two physically tiring jobs together, or two mentally tiring jobs together, can spell disaster, as you don’t give yourself time to recover. The ideal combination is to have one of each – though of course, it depends on what your interests are.
For people juggling careers, getting enough sleep can be an issue. We often hear people complaining that ‘there’s not enough time in the day!’. We are all individual when it comes to how much sleep we need, but regularly not getting enough shut-eye will ensure that even the best-laid plans become unsustainable.
If it’s becoming impossible for you to regularly get your 6-8 hours, you may want to consider reshuffling your schedule, or even embracing the art of the power nap. Over a long period of time, not getting enough sleep has some troubling side effects, including making you more prone to serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.
Another challenge commonly faced by the driven career juggler is feeling so overwhelmed with work, that anytime we do anything ‘unproductive’ such as socializing or pursuing hobbies, we feel guilty. But having time to relax and maintain work-life balance is just as important as knuckling down to work, as it gives our brains time to recharge.
Time is precious
For many professionals with one or more side hustles, our jobs are not ‘just jobs’ to us – they are our calling. We are passionate about our projects, and when new opportunities arise, we want to gobble them up and say ‘yes!’ to everything. The trouble is that with taking on too much comes the inevitable black cloud of exhaustion and burnout.
One of the first lessons career jugglers must learn is how to say ‘no’ when necessary. Or at least, ‘my schedule is packed right now, but let me get back to you in a week’. You only have a finite amount of time each day to get through all of your tasks, which is why it’s helpful to plan out each week of work in advance to ensure you address everything on your to-do list.
You’re probably familiar by now with the feeling of FOMO that comes with juggling more than one livelihood. While your friends are all heading out for beers at 5pm, you might be sitting down at home to start emailing suppliers or writing blog posts. As with all things, there is a balance to be achieved – but being conscious of any major time leaks is fundamental to getting where you want to be.
Empty your stress bucket
Stress is one of the top reasons that those of us with second or third jobs eventually succumb to fatigue and failure. So you must be able to ask yourself honestly whether you can handle more than one job – especially if your ‘primary’ job is stressful.
Say you’re a primary school teacher by day; you’ve got up early and spent 7-8 hours dealing with children and their boundless energy. When you get home, will you have the patience to spend a further 4-5 hours heading up a customer service team? As mentioned, if you’re going to have more than one job, it’s best to have jobs that utilize different skills.
My advice is, if you’re not working, then try not to think about work. Give your mind a break. For some of us, the only time we slow down is when our bodies force us to by getting sick.
It’s vital to empty the stress bucket regularly, so it never reaches the point of overflowing. That means taking time out for yourself, at least one day per week. Use this time to relax, see your friends and family, and keep up with your other interests – lest chaos completely take over.
Be a master of productivity
The more jobs you have, the more essential it is to be productive. Luckily, there are more productivity tutorials available online than we would ever have time to watch in our lifetime.
When you have two or more jobs, it naturally gets harder to stay on top of everything, so I always recommend keeping detailed and separate to-do lists. Review and amend your to-do lists each day. You can keep to-do lists on your phone with useful apps like Evernote, so they don’t end up getting lost or crumpled.
Your work schedule will become monstrous if you’re not careful, but there are ways to tame the beast. The most important thing is to keep a close eye on it, or it may run away with you. Unexpected meetings will likely pop up now and again that are unavoidable – and of course, with more than one career, you sometimes run the risk of events colliding.
For me, I like to keep a good old-fashioned Google Cal, though there are much flashier time-management apps available should you want them. You can keep multiple calendars, but sync them to avoid double-booking yourself. Timeboxing tasks into 30 minute or 1 hour chunks can also help to keep you on track as you progress through your working day.
Take ownership – be your own boss
While some of us take on more than one ‘traditional’ job, or do a little bit of freelancing on the side, others may want to start their own side business as a second career. The benefit of being your own boss is that it’s much easier to work your second job around one where the hours are fixed. You have total control.
That’s not to say that running your own business is any less demanding or time-consuming. A lot of work goes into setting up a business, whether you’re creating an online store or inventing a new product. There are startup costs to consider as well, although the payoff may be worth it in the end.
When it’s ‘be your own boss’ time, give yourself permission to experiment and try different things. After all, you make the decisions now – not your manager. You will likely make mistakes, but that’s all part of the process, so learn from them. Keep the focus, and remember why you started in the first place.
Learn to keep things separate
Last but not least, try to maintain the ethos of ‘what happens at work, stays at work’. Of course, this will apply to each of your individual jobs. When you’re at your day job, you have a responsibility to focus on the task at hand – not spend time daydreaming about working on your side hustle when you get home.
If it helps, keep notes and records. Timekeeping apps like Toggl are a good way to measure the amount of time you spend on tasks and ensure that each job gets the attention it deserves. Remember that if you’re being paid for your time, you need to honor that commitment.
There may come a time when you have to choose between two commitments that pop up at the same time. In this case, it’s a good idea to have considered rationally beforehand which is the priority, when it really comes down to it, and if possible, to already have contingency plans in place. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air.
It’s true that nowadays, it’s rare for every career path to be linear. Each of us experiences progression differently and according to the New York Times, change is a constant. Embracing many career paths can be a fun and fulfilling route for those of us who feel restless doing the same thing, day in day out. Flexible, self-directed roles might well be the future, but the clue is in the description – we will have to take it upon ourselves to make them work.
How do you feel about having multiple jobs? Does it work for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Photo Credit: By Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States (Juggler at the Minneapolis MayDay Parade) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the creative process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a range of digital publications.