Having to balance day-to-day work with a blog, social media presence, or growing online business is never easy. But for many budding entrepreneurs and creatives, it’s a fact of life. Those who maintain side projects have to learn to manage time, conserve energy, and stay positive, all while trying to break into a crowded and competitive field. It’s a bit like being a superhero with a secret identity.Before you give up on sleeping and switch to an all-coffee diet, here are a few tips on how to burn the candle at both ends without starting a fire.
Figure out a routine
Unfortunately for us workaholics, there are only 24 hours in a day and 168 in a week. Assuming you’re working 40 hours and sleeping for about eight hours a night, that only leaves about 72 hours—and we’re guessing you won’t be spending all of those on your side gig. But whether it’s a blog, online business, or social media presence, the key is figuring out a weekly routine you can commit to.
Plan out a rough sketch of your average week, and try to fit in periods where you can work on your project without distractions. Ideally, you’ll want to spread out these periods throughout the week, so that they’re easier to manage. Try the Pomodoro Technique for your side gig, and see if that helps you manage time more effectively.
Set realistic goals
When you’re planning out your average week, consider planning a few months in advance and setting clear, achievable goals that you’ll have time to meet.
If you’re managing both social media and a blog, maybe your goal will be to hit a certain follower milestone by the end of the month. If it’s an online business, maybe it will be a certain number of clients or customers. A blog? A specific number of posts, likes, or comments.
Setting goals like this will inspire you to make your side project a priority, and it will also offer you a sense of accomplishment and a way to measure how successful your project has become.
Be inspired by your work
Even though your heart may be with your side project, we’re hoping that you’re still inspired and empowered by your professional life. So why not use all of that inspiration to improve your other work? By that same token, a successful blog post or awesome freelance gig can translate into a better and more inventive presence at work. Take advantage of the creative energy and inspiration that comes from your double life.
Don’t let your professional life suffer
We know, we know, this is easier said than done. If you’re passionate about your side project—and since you’re reading this, we’re guessing you are—it can be easy to see work as a distraction, and to start neglecting your career in favor of your passion. But letting it fall to the wayside can have serious negative consequences for both your work and your side project.
Be open with coworkers and superiors about your time management and ask them for their recommendations on how best to succeed. Remember, even T.S. Eliot had a day job.
Relax and take it slow
You will not get famous or find success right away. Having a side project is tough not just because it’s laborious or stressful, but because it requires a ton of patience. There will be late nights, missteps, and days where you’ll wonder whether it’s worth it.
We’re not going to lie to you—it’s a tough balance to strike, and it will drive you just a little bit crazy. But once you accept that this thing takes time and commitment, and that you probably won’t find your groove right away, you’ll start getting the hang of it.