The Metaphorical Kitchen
You’re at the cooker, all hobs aflame. On one hob, you have a one-pot casserole. It requires maintenance and attention, but you’re following a recipe and there’s guidance if you need it. It’s simple, it’s safe. The remaining three hobs, grill, oven and microwave are all overflowing with different ingredients and concoctions that come together to make… well, something. Sometimes you’re not sure what it’s going to be, but you know it’ll be something good. The only downside is there’s no recipe. Everything is cooking at different speeds and you need all your skills and techniques for it to come together.
The one-pan casserole is a part-time job. You know where you’re at with it. If you want to, you could make casserole every day of the week. It would definitely be a simpler existence. Everything else represents your business, which you love. It might be chaotic sometimes, but you’re making something new and unique.
The point is, some of us are solely self-employed, some of us run several businesses, and others balance working for ourselves with working for others. This is through either necessity or choice. If you’ve got your finger in many pies, it can feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew, but you are still making progress. What you need is to simmer down and hone these techniques for getting the balance right.
Wear Your Uniform
First things first, wear your uniform. For some jobs, this is literal but ‘wear your uniform’ is about mentally separating your different roles. You need to mentally break down the time in your week, focusing on only one thing at a time. If you are at your part-time job, say you’re a barista in a café, then today you are a barista. Don’t think about your business, don’t chase those emails and don’t think about tomorrow whilst trying to make Sally her cappuccino.
It might feel a bit counterintuitive. It feels natural to be in constant contact with your business clients, but your employer also needs your commitment and attention. If you’re going to have a part-time job alongside your business then you need to give it the attention it deserves.
However, this also works the other way round. Once you finish for the day, you’re done. Tomorrow you’re not at the café, you’re not a barista, which means it’s a business day. One role for one day. On a business day, your attention is 100% on business matters. If the café calls, you don’t answer.
Find Some Structure
It’s tough, but running a business alongside other employment means that there are times that you’re going to be unavailable to your clients. It might not seem ideal, but your time can be managed effectively. You could separate your time so your business only operates on certain days, or you could collaborate with other people in your field to cover enquiries on days you aren’t available.
The point is that a structure to the work week allows you to manage your time and avoid disappointing clients. If your additional employment follows a set schedule then it’s straightforward, but if you work a flexible job, fluidity is required. There definitely isn’t one right way of doing things; it’s about working out what’s best for you. If you want some advice on managing your schedule, the Propeller team are always willing to help you sort things out.
So now you’ve got your schedule set: you know your café job takes up two days in the week, and it has flexible hours. This means you have five days a week to work on your business, right?
Wrong. After a few weeks of that lifestyle you’re going to burn out. Then it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the café work or your own business, both fronts are going to suffer. The best thing for your business (and your additional employer, body and brain…) is for you to actually rest!
When you’ve got a busy or fluid schedule, , put that rest time on the calendar! Rest days benefit you and your employers (as they want you at your best). Regular full-time employment gives you days off and holidays, so why not give them to yourself? Schedule rest time regularly, keep yourself refreshed and you’ll find you’re unstoppable.
Keep It Going
Cooking on every burner is certainly not an easy life. We don’t choose it because it’s easy, we choose it because it’s rewarding. With the right structure and focus, you can commit fully to each dish and cook up a storm. As long as you don’t neglect your own wellbeing whilst chasing progress it can be a hugely rewarding and sustainable life.