Some of us take on second jobs to make ends meet. Some do it for a chance to do the work they actually enjoy. And some of us create our own second jobs to build a business or create our own projects. No matter what the reason, though, juggling more than one job is guaranteed to be a crash course in time management. If you’re not careful, the word ‘crash’ could become more than figurative.
How to do it, then? How do you juggle more than one job?
We all know that we’ll have to figure out a time management system when we take on a second job. Equally obvious is the fact that what works for one person (and their jobs) probably won’t work for anyone else. It’s up to you to find a system and stick with it. There are a few tricks, though, that can help.
Keep firm dividers between your different jobs. Even if you are the boss on your second job — you’re working for yourself — you have an obligation to keep that work separate from your day job. Focus on what’s in front of you. There’s actually a benefit to punching a clock when you work for more than one supervisor. When you’re on the clock for Company A, you know exactly which projects you should be working on. If Company A is paying for this time, you should be theirs, heart and soul, at least until you clock out. We all know that isn’t
Good records can also help. I’m not just talking about the calendars and task lists most of us rely on, either. Making sure that you have any contact information available no matter whether you’re at Job A, Job B or home can take some extra effort, but it’s worth it. The same goes for your notes and other paperwork.
What to do when your jobs interfere with each other?
There will come a day when an emergency comes up at Job A when you’re supposed to be taking care of something for Job B. It’s a fact of life. Unless you have very understanding supervisors or clients, you’re going to have to choose between your jobs. In the moment, it’s very hard to make that decision. I’ve decided between jobs based on which I enjoyed more, which paid better and which was more likely to fire me.
You can’t necessarily make decisions ahead of time, either. The best you can do is make sure you know which of your commitments is the priority when you’re thinking calmly and rationally. Beyond that, I’d suggest thinking about contingency plans. Personally, my contingency plan is very simple. I can pick up and move any of my projects to anywhere that has internet access. I’ve also been known to stay up late to get one of my own projects done — a certain project may not be a priority, but I try to get it done on time, no matter what else is going on.
I know plenty of people who bring their work to their primary job. It seems to be a favorite tactic of folks starting up a freelancing career or small business. I don’t think that’s the best way to manage a packed schedule. If you don’t have your primary employer’s permission, the arrangement is shady at best. That said, these situations do happen. If you’re in one of them, the best advice is to just keep things quiet. Give precedence to the employer who is paying you for this specific chunk of time.
How much do you tell the boss?
Some companies don’t want you to work anywhere else. They want you to put in your eight hours, go home, sleep well and come back rested. Others consider employees who go looking for other projects as assets — such employees have a jump start on networking and have a wider variety of experiences.
Unfortunately, most supervisors do not come with a label describing which variety they are. Because it can be very hard to figure out your boss’ stance, the general rule seems to be that you keep quiet on your extracurricular activities. I wouldn’t talk about Job A at Job B, although, if my boss was to bring up the matter, I’d be entirely truthful.
There are only certain circumstances in which your employer has any legal right to ask you to stop working at your second job. If you have a non compete agreement and your side job — whether you’re freelancing, working for the competition or providing consulting services — your employer can say something. If you’re on call for both jobs at once, your employer can say something. But in most other cases, your employer has no grounds to object.
How do you find balance?
Having more than one job doesn’t mean that you can’t have a life. In fact, it means that you need to make more of an effort to enjoy your free time and relax. While obligations like housework are important, you don’t have to let them take priority over de-stressing. Do what you can in the time you allot for such commitments and then go relax. Don’t worry. That stack of dirty dishes doesn’t have a hot date.
It’s not ridiculous to rethink how you handle your outside priorities if you’re working multiple jobs. Many of us are resistant to the idea that we shouldn’t do everything from laundry to home repair on our own. But sometimes the best choice is paying to have one less thing to worry about, if only so we can get back to work. It’s not a crime to have someone take care of some of your tasks.
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