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The three things y'all ask me about the most are my recipes, my hair routine, and my schedule--specifically, how I balance my corporate job (about 40 hours per week) and blog consistently (about 25 hours per week) while still having a life. Today, I've partnered with EatingWell® Frozen Entrees to spill some of the tricks that help me (seemingly) do it all. These tricks apply to whatever your passion project may be--from real estate investing to calligraphy. Get to scrolling for a few ways to balance your side hustle and full-time career.
Time blocking is essentially denoting specific periods of time for certain tasks. Example: From 2 to 3pm I am only responding to emails and crafting pitches. This might seem counterintuitive because we always want to multitask but is particularly helpful when you have a long to-do list and many priorities pulling you in different directions. Sometimes, I'll block out an entire Saturday or even weekend to devote to recipe testing, shooting, editing, and writing in order to prepare content for a time I'll be on vacation or otherwise unavailable (like attending weddings, parties, etc.). Whereas a full-time blogger (or house flipper or stylist) can typically block full days, those of us with side hustles squeeze in work where we can, whether that be lunch breaks, after-work hours or time spent in transit. (More on what I do during my lunch hour here.) If you time block some of these spare moments, you'll get more out of them because you're focusing on and completing specific tasks.
This is an old trick I've held onto since my college days when I worked retail. Next time you're at the checkout, pay attention to how the associate handles the transaction. If they're efficient, they will batch the tasks associated with checking you out. That means removing all hangers, then scanning each item, then removing sensors, etc. Batching is basically grouping like tasks and it helps you get into a groove that saves time and prevents mistakes. If you've ever walked out of the store and set off the alarm because of a forgotten sensor, you can appreciate the value of batching tasks. What does that have to do with your side hustle, you ask? Well, I've gotten questions about my workflow and batching tasks is pretty much it. Not every day or week looks the same in either my day job or my side hustle but this is one thing that is consistent. Let's use creating blog posts for this example. The tasks involved include:
- generating ideas
- purchasing supplies
- executing (making the recipe, creating the DIY, staging a room, etc.)
- taking photographs
- editing photographs
- selecting photographs
- writing the post
- editing the post
- scheduling the post
- scheduling syndication (sharing the post via email and social media)
- moderating comments
If I went through this process start to finish for each post separately, I would probably struggle. Instead, I look for opportunities to batch tasks. Step two is an easy one. I'll just include the necessary ingredients for multiple posts in my shopping list and pick them up while I'm out. Imagine you're making a pasta dish Monday and chicken Tuesday. Would you make separate trips to the grocery store each day OR pick up everything on Sunday? Another good example is step five. Unless I'm up against a deadline, I'll edit all the photos in my camera at once rather than just the photos for whatever post is up next. You can apply task batching to other things, too, such as running errands, reviewing contracts and conducting research.
Outsource when Necessary
As a blogger, I wear many hats. I've had to learn photography, marketing, and more but plugins, apps, and IT professionals help me out in areas where I'm deficient. (I'm not anything close to a coder). Outsourcing comes in many forms. On busy weeknights when I've stayed late at work, hit an event, and come home with a deadline to meet, it's easy to order a pizza or skip a meal altogether. Instead, I like to keep easy meal options on hand that are quick, yummy, and better for me. Enter EatingWell Frozen Entrees. I like the Gnocchi with Garden Vegetable for a meatless option and other favorites include the Creamy Pesto Chicken and French Inspired Chicken. Even though I have a huge arsenal of recipes, I feel more than comfortable turning to EatingWell for delicious, plated meals in just minutes when I don't have time to cook. I like to pick up a bunch at Kroger when I'm doing my grocery shopping and keep them in the freezer for busy evenings. Each meal has a full cup of vegetables, protein, and none of the bad stuff (preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, PHO or MSG, rBST and RBGH, BPA). Plus there's no hefty prep or cleanup required!
At work, you have set hours. And while you may stay late and take work home with you during busy times, there's a much more clearly-defined line than with your side-hustle. Since side income is often directly proportional to how many hours you put in, it can be hard to take a step back and stop working when you need to. I run my blog as a mostly one-woman show and, even if you have partners or staff, there is always work to do. But don't feel guilty about setting boundaries, resting and doing something for yourself. Self care and being social outside of your two careers is important and you can't do any of the things that excite you on an empty tank. For my fellow content creators, this trick has been a game changer that helps me be in the moment and still do it for the gram!
If y'all would like me to write more in depth about blogging, just let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
P.S. a few more life hacks