"Side hustling" is something I'm interested in. After all, writing and blogging is my side hustle! I spoke to some folks who've had success managing their day jobs and their passions to learn more about how they switch between them and tips they might have. Here's what I learned:
For our parents and grandparents, working life meant clocking in at a factory or commuting to a gigantic concrete office from 9-to-5 to earn a decent living wage.
That’s no longer how things work.
While we may still have a 9-to-5, it’s no longer our everything. More and more people participate in the so-called gig economy as their “side hustle.”
Side hustle (n): A project, company, or second job intended to bridge the gap between a person’s current job and their desired income; usually a symptom of being a millennial crushed by thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
As the bells of 5 o’clock chime, freelancers and side hustlers take off their Clark Kent glasses and throw off the hum drum of their normal workday to become Superman (or Superwoman), with the clock starting over.
Side hustles don’t have to mean waitressing or bartending (though those certainly qualify). More and more, a side hustle means building a fledgling startup, freelance designing, writing, or coding; or driving an Uber or Lyft.
The tough part of a side hustle isn’t finding the time to do it. The tough part is changing your mindset.
To change your mindset, you have to re-adjust how much time you think you have.
Where could you be doing more? If you spend over an hour in traffic like many commuters, consider listening to podcasts or investing in a dictation app to start recording your thoughts. Brainstorm and recharge instead of letting traffic fuel you.
“I think if a side hustle is important to you, you’ll always be able to make time and prioritize it,” says Harry Campbell, who took on Uber and Lyft rides on the side while working an engineering job. “The nice thing about a side hustle is that it really forces you to manage your time more effectively and only spend time on the things that matter most.”
Says Evan Raczynski, who quit his full time non-profit job to focus on being a musician full time, “My side hustle is a little complicated and amorphous. [At the non-profit] they expected you to give your heart and soul to the organization, which meant sacrificing a lot of nights and weekends.”
To combat the emotional and physical burn out that accompanies this kind of full time job, Raczynski made the most of the little moments throughout the day. “I would go to a coffee shop and sketch things out for an hour before going home, or I would go directly from work to a gig and not give myself the chance to switch my brain off.”
Adds Campbell, “I think a lot of people don’t realize just how much you can do in an extra hour a day. Regardless of your situation, almost anyone can find an hour of quiet time, whether it’s before work or late at night, where they can get something done.”
To be able to side hustle, you have to keep pushing.
For Raczynski, that meant not giving in to the inertia that comes with finally coming home each night. “Once I gave myself a rest, the day was over, it was near impossible at that point to work past the inertia,” he says. “The side hustle is something of your own volition.”
Staying motivated means having clear goals — and going after them. “I switch my mindset from educator to Uber driver as soon as I’m off the clock,” says Jocelyn Noelle, a teacher by day and Uber driver by night. “I set my goals for the week so I know if I need to make $1,000, I have to think about events taking place in the city, am I going out to different areas and how long do I have to dedicate to driving.”
Getting into the side hustle mindset means choosing to show up, even when you’re feeling burned out from a long day.
“A lot of times, I would get home and watch TV for an hour before dinner, and then a couple hours after dinner,” says Campbell. “At a certain point I realized I wasn’t getting any value from that.”
That’s when things get tough.
It’s been a long day, or you have to work late, and suddenly, those deadlines you set yourself fall apart. It can be easy to lose motivation when you’re losing sleep and scraping an hour here and twenty minutes there. Side hustles are built on grit, motivation, and a lot of coffee, no matter what they may be.
Ultimately, shifting your mindset means changing how you view your work, in both your day job and your side hustle.
“If you do anything 40–50 hours a week, it’s going to be tough to really love it. But the nice thing about a side hustle is that since it’s a lower time commitment, it can be something that you really look forward to,” says Campbell.
“You must create balance,” says Noelle. “I literally have an alert that tells me to go to sleep or else I could easily work well into the night. The ultimate goal is to work for myself. So I have to work hard now to relax later.”
Switching mindsets from day job to side hustles ultimately makes you a more flexible, creative, and resilient person. And if it’s cash you’re after, the peace of mind from having financial security is enough to fuel your dreams for later.
If your day job isn’t something you’re truly passionate about, it can give you the motivation to push through each day, maintain a steady income — and eventually, change that side hustle into something bigger.
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