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Avoiding burnout and time management when working a side hustle

How to manage a side hustle

In the fast-paced modern world that we live in, things can easily get on top of you. This is even more likely if you work a regular 9-5 job but also have a side hustle or do some freelance work on the side. Throw into the mix trying to have a social life as well and this can be a recipe for burnout. 

A recent Journo Resources event covered this exact circumstance with a session from Lateefah Jean Baptiste, founder of Career Girl Collective and a freelance journalist and PR consultant. Read on to find out the best ways to avoid burnout and juggle your regular job along with any other freelance work or side hustles. 

Symptoms and causes of burnout 

We probably all feel a bit tired and over-worked at times, but the feeling of burnout is slightly different. Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion and can include but is not limited to the following feelings: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Dreading work 
  • Lacking creativity 
  • Short temper 
  • Negative outlook 
  • Inner emptiness 
  • Feeling irritable 
  • Feel like you’re drowning 

We are more likely to encounter these feelings and experience burnout if working as a freelancer or running a side hustle in addition to a regular job. 19% of people have started a side hustle since March 2020, according to Aviva. The benefits are clear – extra income, putting time into your passion and writing with more creative freedom, but that risk of things getting on top of you and burning out are higher. 

The most obvious and common cause of burnout is workload. If you feel like you are chronically overloaded with work and don’t have time to get everything done, then this can result in burnout. The second cause is a perceived lack of control. When you are working a regular job but also looking to do other work outside of this and maintain a social life or hobbies, then it can feel like you don’t have the capability to keep all those plates spinning. Finally, burnout can stem from feeling as though the rewards you are getting from your work are not matching the amount of effort you are putting in to achieve them. 

Managing the feelings of burnout 

There are ways to deal with these feelings and help reduce the stresses and strains you are under. Firstly, you need to assess and manage your time more closely. A lot of people will have a daily routine for work, even if they don’t realise it, and you need to analyse this and look at when you have free time, when you are most productive and is now a good time to be doing a side hustle or freelance work. 

One method to manage your time more efficiently is by time blocking. Make a to-do list of what you want to do in a day and separate your tasks and priorities – 9-5 job, side hustle/freelance and personal. Then set realistic timings of what you can do in a day and stick to this as closely as possible.  

It’s easy to lose track of different projects and feel overwhelmed when you have a side hustle. That’s why it’s good practice to create separate emails. You can have one for your extra work, one for applying for jobs and one for personal matters – in addition to your normal work email. It’s also best to open a new bank/business account for anything freelance to manage your finances more easily, especially as any earnings over £1,000 you will need to pay tax on. 

Another way to alleviate those feelings of burnout is by celebrating your wins, even if they are only small ones. This could be done by having an achievement jar where you stick notes in with different things you have accomplished. It could be as small as leaving the house to go for a walk or as big as getting commissioned by a national newspaper to write a feature article. Then, on the days when you are struggling with work or feeling low, you can look at the notes in the jar as a reminder of what you can achieve. 

You can also join a community or network around the area you are freelance writing about or the side hustle/business you are interested in. This is another place where you can share success but also speak to people in similar positions about issues they are having, any questions you have or to help you destress or feel less alone. 

Finally, it’s good to learn when to say no. If you already have a lot of work on and someone offers you an opportunity, then you don’t have to accept it. You need to be confident in your writing and know that other opportunities will come along in the future. Don’t overload your work schedule unnecessarily as this will result in burnout. 

Overcoming procrastination and putting mental health first 

When working a full-time job plus doing extra on the side as well, time is precious. You need to make the most of what you have and not be procrastinating or distracted by anything else. If this is something you struggle with then there are two ways to get past this. One is the ‘Eat the Frog’ strategy. You identify one challenging task (the frog) and complete it first thing in the morning (eating it). The other way is the Pomodoro method. This is where you break your workday into 25-minute focus periods followed by five minute breaks. 

However, while wanting to make use of your time as effectively as you can, you still need to make sure that your own mental health is a top priority. This can be done by practicing gratitude journalling or taking regular breaks and going for a walk. As mentioned earlier, turning down work so you aren’t overloaded can improve your mental wellbeing. Plus, making time for friends and socialising are key. If you can do all of this, then you should avoid burning out but still achieve everything you want in both your regular job and anything else you want to do on the side.  

If you are struggling to find case studies, experts or information for your regular job, or your freelance work, then send a request on our Journalist Enquiry Service here and get what you need! 

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