A Guide to Balancing a Side Hustle Without Burning Out

The phrase “side hustle” makes me tired just thinking about it. However, I think there is a gentler but still effective way to approach. Over time I’ve found what works for me when it comes to balancing a side hustle (or hobby) without completely burning out. 

For the past few years, I’ve been working full-time while blogging on the side. While my writing is more of a hobby than a hustle, it’s still a commitment I made to myself to continue with. It has allowed me to express myself creatively, learn new things (that I don’t get from my day job), and connect with others in the wellness space. With that being said, it does take up a lot of time.

In the beginning, it was hard to manage both while maintaining my sanity. I had to make a few changes in order to show up to both effectively and still have time to relax.

Here are a few ways I found helpful to manage both my work and outside interests while avoiding burnout: 

Find a Company That Supports Work-Life Balance or Remote Arrangements

Having a remote job or a company that supports work-life balance is a game-changer. One of the most effective ways to balance a side hustle is to have more time to work with. If your full-time gig requires you to work 50+ hours a week plus a commute then finding time for your side gig is going to be hard. Not impossible but in order to not burn out, you need some downtime. Try to find a company that supports remote arrangements (even if it’s just 1 day a week) or organizations that allow for work-life balance.

Set a Side Hustle Schedule 

Having a general schedule to support your side project is key. Be realistic. Don’t say I am going to wake up at 5 am when the odds of that happening are slim. Think about when you are most energized. For me, it’s in the mornings when I wake up. I set aside a few days each week where I dedicate 2 hours to writing and planning before work.

Identify Tasks In Advance 

Keep a running list of items you want to work on. Each week pick 1-2 tasks you want to complete for your side hustle. You can even assign days to complete those tasks. Again, be realistic in what you can accomplish. Maybe it’s just a portion of the overall bigger task. That’s okay. The key here is to continue moving the needle without going insane. 

Outsource

I should start by saying that outsourcing work to paid help or even taking on interns is still time-consuming. Managing others requires effort and direction. But on the flip side, if there are tedious time-consuming tasks that you don’t enjoy doing and there is a cost-effective way to outsource, then do it. By outsourcing, you can free up your time for things you actually enjoy and not sweat the small stuff. 

Schedule Downtime

Having a side gig doesn’t mean you have to dedicate every free waking moment to work on it. It’s just as important to schedule downtime so you can hit pause and refresh. I believe the energy we have when we are doing tasks is reflected in our work. If you want to do your best work, you need to be well-rested.

Side note: Often I find my best ideas come from my downtime.

Comparing Yourself to Others Will Lead to Burnout

Don’t get stuck in the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to others when you’re unsure or fearful of the next step. The comparison game is a never-ending one that will surely burn you out and unfortunately will not get you any further in your own projects. It’s an effective way to procrastinate and that’s about it. Use others for inspiration but learn to cut yourself off.

Listen to Your Body

Our bodies are amazing vessels constantly sending us warning signs. When it comes to balancing a side hustle, you need to be attuned to those signs. When you feel overtired, take a nap. If you’ve worked so much on a task that you can’t think straight, unplug and go for a walk. If you feel cracked out on caffeine, drink some water. When we learn to listen to our bodies, we can prevent burnout.

When it comes to balancing a side hustle or hobby, my honest unsolicited advice: hustle less. Work towards your goals but in a gentler way. That way the quality of your work is high and so are your spirits.

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