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A Single Method to Balance Your Side Hustle with a 9 to 5 Job

For the past 7 years I've always had a side hustle along with my main job (or two).

That's why I've been constantly searching for ways and developing systems to balance a full-time job and side projects. I have to admit, some of these methods failed miserably, while others have actually been helpful in my day-to-day life.

Right now, I work as a graphic designer and build my own creative agency Social Animals on the side. To manage my side projects along a full-time job successfully, I’ve developed a framework of "marathons" and "sprints". Let me explain in detail.

Marathons

Shortly put, "marathons" are long-term projects or a full-time job that:
  • provide the biggest share of income;
  • or/and take the most of time;
  • or/and take the most of effort.

Stability: high
You can rely on “marathons” to pay the bills and even invest into some side projects. However, they aren’t always as fun and rewarding as a side hustle might be.

Intensity: low to medium
A good thing about a “marathon” is that you can often find some free time for a side hustle. Of course, every company might have burning deadlines from time to time, but in a “marathon”, these instances don't happen too often.

Advantages of a "marathon":
  • You are certain in the future and in your stable income.
  • You don't always invest too much of your energy and resources into a “marathon”.
  • You have an opportunity to mix in a side hustle.

Disadvantages of a "marathon":
  • There’s a risk to get bored with routine repeating tasks.
  • There might be a lack of opportunities for professional growth.
  • Often, there’s a clear wage ceiling.

Sprints

“Sprints” often come in a form of a short-term project, and they are a perfect opportunity for a quick development of skills or income.

Stability: low to medium
Simply because “sprints” are short-term, you can’t rely on them for stable income as well as work schedule, vacations, and other perks of a full-time job.

Intensity: high or super high
“Sprinters” often have to deal with crazy deadlines, a ton of extra work and sleepless nights. You have to dedicate a lot of effort short-term in order to get results.

Advantages of "sprints":
  • The biggest advantage and a reason why you might want to do a "sprint" is an opportumity to upgrade your skills, learn how to work fast and efficiently, and potentially meet new people.
  • Sprints can bring you good additional income in a short period of time

Disadvantages of "sprints":
  • You wont last too long, believe me. If you try to run a marathon with a sprint speed, you are going to burn out very soon.
  • Lack of stability can be critical, especially if you have to pay the bills.

If I take on a marathon, I might be able to add on one or two sprints.

My experience

I had a few "marathons" in my life. They included brands like adidas, Reebok, Schneider Electric, AVON, and so on. However, almost always I combined them with some additional projects or "sprints".

I recommend to always consider your background while planning sprints and marathons.

  • Resources: do I have the time and the energy to take on a sprint or do I need a more calm work rhythm right now?
  • Goals: do I want to quickly develop some of my professional skills in a sprint or do I want to grow slow and steady?
  • Finances: do I need a stable income?

I always recommend to take on a single calm and stable marathon so that you can rely on some stable income and then add sprints based on your resources, goals, and financial situation.


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