This blogpost is also available in German / auf Deutsch
“How do you do manage to do it all?” – “What, you don’t blog full time? But you are so busy!” – just two of the many questions I was asked while working full-time in a PR agency as well as managing my blog, YouTube and Instagram on the side. For a long Heylilahey was a real big side project for a that I pursued with passion, took up A LOT of my time and with which I even earned some money on the side (now I am running the blog full time).
Somehow such “Side Hustles” have almost become trendy. In this article I am not referring to part-time jobs that are simply for the purpose of earning a little extra cash on the side, but I am talking more about projects that are full of passion. So for example, a blog, your art, your own writing, etc., but at the same time are more than just a hobby.
Back then, many could not imagine how I could work full time, blog, work out, cook fresh vegan food and, of course, have an active, social life all at once. That’s why I wanted to share my experiences and tips today on how to manage a big side project while working a full-time job.
I don’t have children who would take up much of my time, I have no family members that I care for and have no chronic illnesses that make certain activities in my life difficult, no debts, or anything like that.
So I’m in a very privileged position to write about how to manage your time between two big projects.
Many of you may have less time than I have and still manage to do more than just the 9 to 5 job duties. Hats off to you, really, that’s admirable! Some of you may have more free hours in a day than I have but you still can’t or don’t want to take on more projects or hobbies than your normal job. That is also OK! I don’t want to tell anyone here how they should manage their time. I just want to share my experiences and tips, as I was often asked about it privately.
1. It is a lot of work
Let’s get the obvious out of the way right from the start: the whole thing is not easy and requires a lot of work and little free time. I was able to juggle work at the office and the blog for so long because I just enjoy it a lot, work hard (usually, haha), work efficiently, but also because there was an end in sight. I knew that I would only do this double burden until the beginning of our world trip. Otherwise, I would have thought of another alternative someday. For example, reduce the work on the blog (less frequent posts, post less YouTube videos, etc.), or try to reduce the hours in the PR agency (my employer had offered, for example, that I reduce my work week to a 32-hour contract, if I wanted to come back after the trip around the world).
So be prepared: a side hustle, as I described above, takes up a lot of time and work. In the end, it’s worth it in my opinion, but only if there’s a lot of passion and motivation for the side project – only if at the end of the day it really makes you happy!
2. Use time efficiently
I think my biggest success factor back then was that I managed and used my time wisely and efficiently. When I had 15 minutes off I did not just sit around or surf on the computer, but brainstormed, started writing articles or worked on my social media channels.
A concrete example: In the morning on the bus, I always had many ideas for articles and so I just started to write blog posts directly on my phone in the bus. Of course, this specific example is not for everyone, but here are my general tips:
- Think about when exactly you are most productive and, in concrete terms, schedule time for your side project.
- Think about when you could use free minutes and time when you are just waiting during the day.
- Write ideas and thoughts immediately, save links and ideas instantly (also on Pinterest or Instagram with the archive function)
- Think about how best to plan your time: with to-do lists? With Excel spreadsheets? With calendar overviews? Digital? On paper?
- Set exact time slots for your Side Hustle (for example, 20 minutes in the morning, Sunday afternoon, etc.)
- Balance cost-benefit. For me, this was e.g. Often the question of whether it is “worthwhile” to go to this blogger event, or whether I prefer not to spend time writing articles (or whether the event robs me of my precious, already limited leisure time)
- Don’t make your To-Do-List too long! 2-3 big projects a day are enough (for a full 8 hour day)
I could write so much more about time efficiency. Let me know if this is interesting for you!
3. Do not mix office work and side hustle
The temptation may sometimes be there, but I strongly advise against working on the side project while at your day job. Not only will your employer not be very happy about it, but this mix of two big projects is simply not efficient or effective. My recommendation is to focus fully on the job during normal working hours and then after that fully focus on your other project.
Luckily for us in the PR agency it was possible to not be available after work at all. After all, we weren’t doctors who needed to be on call all the time for emergency situations. So I diligently met all my to-dos and duties at the agency and really tried to barely work any overtime. When I managed my time and delegated well, I actually did not have any overtime (except, of course, for special projects or events).
So I could really completely separate my job and side project and could use my energy and time purposefully, without feeling too much like I was drawn back and forth. The feeling of not being able to do justice to either work robs me the most of my energy and therefore also time.
Speaking of job and side project: For me it was super helpful that my bosses knew that I spend a lot of free time in my blog. On the one hand it was simply honest of me and transparency is always important to me, on the other hand they could give me some tips, had contacts and at the same time I was able to use my knowledge from my blogger career in the areas of blogger relations and content marketing in the company.
So my tip: Separate work and your side project strictly, but let your bosses and also colleagues know of your side project if possible. Honest and transparent communication is always important.
4. Assess priorities
As I’ve said, I’ve often heard how impressed people around me were by being able to balance my job, blog, working out and my personal life. It was not always as easy as it looked from the outside. I constantly had to prioritize and consider how important the to-dos at hand were for me.
So for example my apartment looked like total chaos more often than I wanted. But this way I had time for my boyfriend AND the blog. Or I had more time for house projects but no videos came online on YouTube for weeks. It’s all just a matter of priorities. Here is a mini example: Do I watch 10 minutes of banal videos on Facebook, or do I watch a video about Facebook marketing?
Or more concretely related to the blog: Do I now cut the vlog from the last vacation, or am I now finishing the blog post that has a deadline?
In summary, think about priorities. Which to-do, whether household or work, has priority, which one must be done today, which can be postponed? It often sounds easier than expected, but many find it difficult to keep a detailed list of priorities (whether on paper or in your head). Practice makes perfect!
5. Say goodbye to perfectionism (it’ll be good for you!)
Speaking of perfect: Crazy perfectionists will probably find it difficult to have a really efficient priority list, as well as keeping their to-do lists short. Although it seems like a trend movement at the moment, I do not call myself a perfectionist (it seems to me that EVERYONE around me calls themselves perfectionists – I think that has something to do with the self-optimization trend, but that’s a different story). I want to do my things very well, correctly, nice and with lots of love and passion, but I don’t like to get lost in unnecessary details that no one will see in the end anyway. For me, true perfectionism kills efficiency and innovation. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing bad to always want to deliver very good results, of course I would always wish that as a boss. To do your job very well, to be motivated and to always do the best that you can is important. However, that should not end in self-doubt and exaggerated fear of mistakes and failures.
Honestly, I believe that I rarely “suffer” from true, exaggerated perfectionism. I’ve always liked to get very good grades, had an A+ in math at school and have always been diligent and of course always wanted to do everything as good as possible. But I often decide automatically, I think, whether a task is worth the effort right now. And I am good at accepting that not everything will be perfect and that as a human being you just make mistakes.
So my concrete tips: Accept weaknesses, sometimes outsource tasks (more about that right now), don’t waste time with exaggerated perfectionism, do not make to-do lists too long (2-3 big tasks on one working day are enough, see above!).
Would you like to have a separate article on perfectionism?
I think many people underestimate this point, regardless of whether they are employees with a side project or without any. Many tasks of our everyday life, but also in your side project can be outsourced pretty well. That means that you pay someone else to do certain tasks. Especially for unpleasant tasks this is the perfect solution. For example, my roommate wanted to hire a cleaning person for a long time because he simply never gets to clean the apartment (he travels a lot and usually works for a very long time). It costs him money, but it saves several hours a week, so it’s worth the extra expenses.
A few more examples:
- Pay someone to do your translations
- As a blogger you may consider a management agency
- Order organic veggie boxes to always have fresh fruits and vegetables
- Hire a programmer for your own site
- Pay for a pinterest looping software
- Look for presets and buy them for little money, for example for image editing, video editing, video animations etc.
- And there is so much more!
7. Surround yourself with the right people
Ok, that’s not a direct tip for more efficiency & Co. But for example, energies around me affect my own energy. If I surround myself a lot with people who are very negative and have no ambitions at all (and because of that aren’t happy, but rather grumpy), that also pulls me down and robs me of my energy. But when I spend a lot of time with people who are in a similar situation themselves, also have a big passion for their job or their hobby, or are just positive and content, then it fills me with positive thoughts and energy !
For several reasons, I’m not a big fan of the motto “radically cut toxic people out of your life” – not everyone can and should cut someone out of their lives so radically, in my opinion (it always depends! Of course, there are moments when you should do that immediately!).
But you can almost always choose who you spend MORE time with!
Keep that in mind! I know exactly with who I should meet to feel super happy, positive and motivated afterwards!
In summary, I can always advise you, be aware of your time. You do not have to plan every minute or always know what your priority list looks like. Just doing NOTHING is important as well and I like to do it too of course! But I really recommend consciously planning your precious time! I just think that at the time, I was able to judge myself well and very honestly, which is the most important thing to making a full time job and side project work. I think I was A LOT more efficient back then actually.
Besides, I am lucky that I have a very understanding boyfriend who also plays a big part in my blog. He does a lot of technical work for me, he helps me shoot videos as well as my outfit photos. Of course, sometimes I worked too much, but my boyfriend always knew how important it was to me. Sunday night he used to watch football for hours, so I definitely sat at my laptop during that time.
I’m not a know-it-all guru, but I hope my tips and experiences were interesting for you and may even help you a bit! Let me know how you deal with side projects, if you have any, if you plan to expand your hobby, or if you have more of a problem with your side-hustle! I am looking forward to a discussion!
Let me know if my tips were helpful and if I should write more articles similar to this one!!!