How to Successfully Juggle Freelance Gigs as a Full-Time Employee

According to a recent study from TSheets by QuickBooks, 21 million individuals in the United States already have side hustles that they plan to keep going in 2018 and beyond. Data collected by Intuit and Emergent Research reveals that the average gig economy worker spends 11 hours each week focusing on his or her hustle.

While that may not sound like much time, many side hustlers and freelancers also hold full-time jobs. When you factor in a 40 hour workweek and the fact that not all gig workers are not created equal (many have families, for instance) suddenly finding the time to fit in those 11 hours of freelance work becomes extremely difficult to do.

So, how does one juggle freelance and full-time work without dropping the ball? If you find yourself currently in this position (or are one of the 7.5 million planning to start a side hustle in 2018), get strategic by covering the following areas.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

It starts with one freelance assignment that is accomplished quickly and pays well. Before long, you have agreed to do a bit more contract work. You like how it helps build up your portfolio, allows you to keep learning and boosts your income.

Word of mouth about your expertise spreads and attracts new clients and attention your way. You try not to say “no” to opportunities because success is about showing up and saying yes, right? Suddenly, you’re in over your head. Your side hustle has expanded too quickly. It eats up all of your spare time, leaving you exhausted and begins negatively affecting your performance at your full-time job.

What can, or should, you do next? A popular approach for many soon-to-be entrepreneurs is to quit their jobs and focus solely on turning their side hustles into full-time businesses. However, not every gig worker is ready to make this shift. Their circumstances can range from not being financially prepared to lacking the time or energy to successfully run a startup.

If you have the capacity to turn your side hustle into a full-on business, go for it! If you do not, begin cutting back on the side work that you do. Explain your situation to clients so they are aware that you have other commitments. When you know your limits, it will be much easier for you to keep from taking on more than you can handle.

Related: 8 Things I Learned in My First Year as a Freelancer

Commit yourself to freelance work you’re passionate about

Imagine that you are a freelance writer. You received an opportunity to write for a huge media outlet that pays well and provides lots of exposure. However, they want you to write about topics that you’re not necessarily enthusiastic about. You’ve built your side hustle brand in a certain light and worry that this kind of writing will alienate your audience. Should you take it even though you’re hesitant?

Put simply, the best move is to decline the offer. While it is true that a side hustle opens up doors of opportunity, the doors opening should align with your values and overall mission. When you are passionate about the work you do, everyone takes notice. That’s because the work empowers you, excites you, and allows you to express bits and pieces of your own personality. If you cannot connect with it, then it’s better not to accept. Trust me — another offer will come along that suits you much better!

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Schedule in time to unplug

It goes without saying that careful scheduling is key to successfully working full-time and managing time spent on side gigs. As much as you schedule yourself from day to day, hour to hour, make it a point to put in some time to unplug.

The last thing anyone wants to have happen is to burn out, so make it priority to invest in your own self-care. Spend an afternoon doing Pilates, go to brunch with friends, head to the farmer’s market, or go to the movies. This gives your brain a chance to recharge and take a break in order to return back to the grind refreshed and ready to go.

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