8 Tips to Balance Your Full-Time Job With a Side Hustle

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This story originally appeared on Dollar Sprout.

Starting a side hustle can be a great way to bring in extra income, especially if you need money to grow your emergency fund or pay down debt. With so many ways to make money online or in person, it’s possible to work a side gig around your regular 9-to-5 job.

Figuring out how to balance a full-time job with a side hustle can put your time management skills to the test. As a full-time freelance writer who also runs three blogs and homeschools two kids, I understand the struggle. If you’re working a full-time job and side hustle at the same time, we’ve got some tips from side hustle experts on how to do both.

Starting a side hustle can help you to flex your entrepreneurial muscles, and it’s become an increasingly popular way to make money. But there’s some thought that needs to go into it, especially if you’re also working a full-time job.

It’s helpful to think about what your goals are, what kind of side hustle you’re most interested in pursuing, and how much time you can realistically commit to it.

There’s no magic bullet for how to balance your full-time job with a side hustle. It takes planning and patience to make it all work.

But whether you’re spending a few hours a day on your side hustle or just a few hours a week, these strategies can help you find a happy medium between working for your boss and trying to become your own boss in your spare time.

1. Pick a side hustle you’re passionate about

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Making a full-time job and side hustle work can be a lot easier if you’re making money doing something that gets you motivated. Gowtham Kandavel, a senior user interface (UX) designer who also runs Thrilla, a website for other UX designers, said that’s key to making a full-time job and side gig work.

“Only if you are passionate will you be able to burn the midnight oil without breaking down,” he said.

Kandavel learned that from experience with his first two side hustles, both of which failed. The problem is that those side hustles didn’t reflect his passions or interests, which hindered his success.

If your goal for starting a side hustle is to eventually turn it into a business, think about what you could see yourself doing for the long term. Consider your passions and use those to generate side hustle ideas so you’re doing something you love. That way, having a full-time job and side hustle feels less like having two jobs.

2. Set clear boundaries

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Being an entrepreneur with a full-time job means you only have so much time. You need to be clear about what you are and aren’t willing to sacrifice, said Andrew Chen, a product manager at Google who has three side hustles, including running the personal finance website Hack Your Wealth.

Altogether, Chen estimates he spends 55 to 60 hours a week working on his day job and another 15 to 25 hours a week on side hustles. That means getting enough sleep and having a social life sometimes end up on the back burner.

Chen said it’s important to set boundaries with yourself and others about how far you’re willing to go to succeed if you’re trying to have a full-time job and side hustle.

“That will make it easier to have conversations with family members and friends in a way that makes you feel less guilty,” he said.

3. Have a schedule

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A routine is crucial for keeping up with a side gig while working full time, said Mayuri Kashyap, a full-time human resources consultant who also runs the travel blog To Someplace New.

“Setting up a weekly and monthly schedule helps me stay on track,” Kashyap said.

That means using her daily two-hour commute on public transportation to tackle small tasks like posting to social media or responding to emails via her smartphone. She also wakes up early to dedicate an hour to her side hustle before work.

Having a set schedule for working on your side gig can help with maximizing your productivity. If you don’t follow a schedule, try keeping a time log for a week to see where your time goes each day. Then, figure out where you can carve out extra time for your hustle.

4. Take advantage of small pockets of time

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One misconception about how to balance your full-time job with a side hustle is thinking you can only work on either one in big blocks of time. Albert Lee, a doctor who works 50 to 55 hours a week and also runs the home improvement website Home Living Lab, said how you use small moments of downtime can be just as important.

For example, instead of spending your entire lunch hour on social media, use that time to work on your hustle.

“These little snippets of time may seem insignificant, but they do add up,” Lee said. “I personally find that if I make full use of them, I can squeeze in about 45 to 60 minutes of good solid work during my day job.”

Again, this is where keeping a time log can help you find those small opportunities in your day. And once you find them, use the next tip to make the most of them.

5. Eliminate distractions

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One of the biggest struggles with how to balance your full-time job with a side hustle is making the most of the time you have available for your side gig.

Brendan Heffernan, owner of Dunk or Three, has a 45-hour full-time job working with high school students and a lucrative part-time freelance writing and editing gig. Since he’s also a parent, he maximizes his side hustle hours by eliminating distractions as much as possible.

“When you have time set aside to work, you better be working that entire time and not perusing the internet or watching YouTube videos,” Heffernan said.

Whether you side hustle before work or after your regular job, make a point of cutting out distractions. Leave your phone in another room, turn off the TV, and consider using a special web browser extension like StayFocusd to block websites or apps that could lead you off task.

6. Take care of your health

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When balancing a side gig while working full time, it’s easy to neglect basic self-care. But that’s a guaranteed way to end up burned out. You have to make health a priority so you have enough energy to work on both.

Chris Panteli spends 50 hours a week running his restaurant while also working on his personal finance blog, Life Upswing. After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 32, he’s realized the importance of good self-care when keeping up with a side hustle and full-time job.

“My key to balancing both is getting a good night’s sleep and making sure the quality of sleep is good as well,” Panteli said.

It’s tempting to work long hours to grow your side hustle, but consider what the trade-off may be health-wise. If you’re tired, that can hurt your productivity at work, potentially endangering your day job. And once you get home from work, you may have zero energy to focus on your hustle.

7. Put side hustle tasks on autopilot

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As an entrepreneur with a full-time job, it’s impossible to do everything by yourself. That’s where automation comes in.

Jonathan Sanchez works full time as a software engineer while running a side hustle as a real estate investor and founder of ParentPortfolio. He uses schedulers to keep up with social media posts and email campaigns that drive traffic to his website.

If your side hustle is website or blog-based, you could try using similar automation tools or so that you don’t have to be as hands-on with your business. You can also use automation to manage other parts of your life so you have more time to focus on your side gig.

For instance, you could set up automatic bill payments so you don’t have to worry about due dates. Budgeting apps can help with tracking your spending automatically, taking the hassle out of doing it manually.

8. Remember your why

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Working full time with a side hustle can be demanding, to say the least. It’s important to have a clear reason for what you’re doing from day one.

Lucy Reyes is a supply chain specialist and mom who side hustles with multiple blogs, including her main site, Cheers to Life Blogging. She said staying focused on why you started your side hustle is what will keep you motivated to continue working on it when you’re exhausted or feeling stuck.

If you’ve lost sight of your why, take time to remind yourself what your goals for side hustling were when you started. Whether it’s getting out of debt, creating financial security for your family, or being able to walk away from your day job one day, use your goals as an anchor for staying grounded and focused.

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