Balancing Your Side Hustle With A Full-time Job

​This post is about working hard on your side hustle while you’ve got a day job and are trying to fit everything into your already busy schedule.

3 years ago I got a full-time office job and about 8 months ago I decided to quit my profitable little guitar teaching business to really focus on my dream of composing for video games. This lead me to question how I could best use my time to work on and pursue my passion.

Why balancing your side hustle is important

I’ve been keeping busy with going to music and gaming events, writing new music, and writing new blog posts. I’ve also started a podcast called ComposerCast for people who’d rather listen to posts like these than read them. London is where everything seems to take place so I’ve been going there quite a lot recently for events such as watching the Beep video game documentary, the BASCA composers question time evening, EGX Rezzed and game audio drinks. Luckily, I live about an hour away from London Waterloo so getting to these events after work isn’t too tricky. I’ve also got a couple of music projects on the go to at the moment including writing music for an animation short film. With all this going on, plus a full-time day job, it’s really important to find/make the time to work on your projects and get the balance right so that you don’t burn out. I think keeping yourself healthy and your spirits high is half the battle when working on your passion alongside your day job.

Time management tips

Tip number 1 — There’s a lot more time than you think there is. If you’re struggling to find the time then it’s probably because you’re doing too many leisure activities like watching Netflix or going out to the pub with your friends a few times a week. You have to realise that part of time management is going to be giving up that leisure time but it will be worth it when you see just how much extra work you can get done.

Tip number 2 — Make manageable, micro goals each day. You don’t want them to be too big and lofty otherwise they’ll never get done. You also need to have a macro idea of where you want to go and where you want to end up so that you can plan your daily tasks accordingly. If you want to be a composer, tomorrow’s task might involve transcribing the bass line to a song, writing 16 bars of new music, emailing potential clients and practising your scales. If you don’t have a macro goal in mind then with the limited time you do have to work on your side hustle, every day will be wasted on things that don’t matter.

Tip number 3 — Book in hour long or more chunks of time for tasks you really need to concentrate on. An hours work is not the same as four bits of fifteen minutes work. Have a set time and let people know they’re not to disturb you during it.

Tip number 4 — Work on your side hustle at your day job. Okay so this might not seem like the wisest thing to do but if you have a job where you can get away with it then why not? So you’re sitting in front of a computer all day at your desk job and you finished a big chunk of work that you needed to do. Instead of getting up and getting a coffee and going to have a chat with people you could instead do some research all write a blog post about your chosen passion. These little bits of time every day can really add up to a lot by the end of the week. Morally it might not be the best thing to do, especially if you want to keep your job, but it’s still a good time-saving idea if you can get away with it.

Apps I use to save time

  • Google calendar or some other calendar app is definitely needed. I’d be lost without it and would waste so much time trying to remember all the events and locations I needed to go to.
  • I use a mobile app called Albert for my invoices. It’s a really quick and easy way to create invoices for the work you do and email them straight to clients. The fact that it’s all done on your phone means you can obviously do it practically anywhere and the invoices look fairly professional too, with colour options and the ability to add your logo on there.
  • I use a combination of Evernote and Trello when I’m working on projects. Both these apps are fantastic for jotting down ideas. Evernote is more useful for getting the initial idea while Trello is great at managing an entire project. In Trello, you’re able to drag and drop cards around the screen depending on whether they’re on the to-do list, done list, project ideas column, or a screenshot and artwork column. It gives you a very visual way to map the work your doing and saves time by quickly showing you what you have to do next and by giving tasks due dates. I even managed to plan my wedding using it.
  • On the marketing side of things, I use a little photography app called Word Swag to create wallpapers for my phone each weekend and share them online. It lets you add really professional style lettering on top of a picture so it could easily be used for things like inspirational quotes or marketing your latest podcast. If you were to do that in Photoshop and weren’t very experienced, it might take you an hour whereas it only takes 5 minutes using the app.
  • As a fun one to finish with, the Wetherspoon app is great if you’re networking with people. You can select which pub you’re in and then use the app to order the food and drink straight to your table so you can carry on the conversation and land that amazing gig.

Balancing your social life

This one’s hard. You realise that the more events you go to, the more your social life revolves around the amazing people you meet at them. This is just natural as all the people you meet at these events probably share a common interest with you. So for me it’s music and video games and it’s inspiring being able to talk to so many other people about it. The truth is, there just won’t be time to hang out with your mates as much as you used to. Some of them will be fine with this while others will blame you and maybe even hate you for it. It’s just a risk you’ll have to take. Don’t go disowning all your friends but understand they might not all be there when you start working harder.

Sleep

No matter how much work you do and how grand your goals are, you’ve always got to sleep. You’ll be useless if you don’t get enough if it and won’t have the energy to work on projects when you come home from your day job. Some things that help me sleep are guided meditation apps like Insight Timer. This is also really handy to pop on in the afternoon to help you relax. Too much stress will kill you in the long run.

I enjoy using the Phillips Hue light bulbs to simulate a sunset when going to sleep too. It helps your brain get you in the right frame of mind to help you drift off. In the morning I use the same lights to simulate a sunrise which is a natural way for the body to wake up. You have so much more energy for the day when you’re not suddenly awakened by a loud alarm.

The absolute most important thing is that you enjoy the process of building your side hustle. If you don’t love the process, you’ll have no energy to carry on when it gets a bit hard and when things aren’t moving as fast as you’d like. Have patience and work hard!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you have any suggestions on how to balance your full-time job, freelance work, social life and family life, leave a comment.