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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.


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” 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.

Want more useful tips for designers and creators?

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