Monday, March 16, 2015

why i scheduled side gig work hours

writing this post, i feel silly. it's a no-brainer, isn't it? well, no - for me, it wasn't. in fact, this highly intuitive, revolutionary idea was likely the furthest thing from my mind. until i implemented it, i didn't quite understand why others did, or how it would impact my productivity and overall well-being.

here's my problem: i'm a workaholic.

if permitted, i will grab a project and run it into the ground - up till 2am making tiny kerning tweaks on text in photoshop, brainstorming what i should or shouldn't have said in that email on my way to work, planning events in my brain on my lunch hour. how wonderful, meredith, you're so motivated!

wonderful, yeah, until it wasn't. there are only so many days of that type of obsessive, work-focused existence you can lead. it was truly insightful to learn just how hard i can work, that i can jump hurdles, that i can basically go into "beast mode" & get. shit. done. i am so, so good at that. but i can't do it every day.

so, i set up "work hours" for my blog and birmingham bloggers. these are the only hours i write posts, take photos, add things to the birmingham bloggers site, plan events, schedule social media or process join forms. it's two nights a week, and one day of the weekend - and that. is. it. i may answer a rogue email out of my allotted "hours" on occasion, but overall, i try to remember something i learned in the being boss facebook group regarding emails: i am not a paramedic.

what happened was i stopped putting myself first. working, writing and constantly staying on top of things became an obsession - and i was expending so much energy planning and trying to get it all done as quickly as possible that i began to neglect the basics. all the energy that fueled my over-working tendencies could have been put towards myself. now, i've finally re-shifted. i feel balanced. i handle my life - my day job, my health, my relationships - and my side hustle jobs come next, as they should. it doesn't mean i'm not just as motivated or inspired. i still have big plans, big dreams and aspirations for where i can take my own blog, businesses and my work with birmingham bloggers, but now, i am able to be much more focused and in tune. i feel much more productive and less scattered because i have my work hours, and i stick to them.

tips on how to start side hustle "work hours"

  • let go. accept that it's ok to not work 24/7. (hardest part, y'all) make a list of your priorities, and then think on that - is how you're spending your time a true reflection of your priorities? are friends/family at the top? then why are you working 70 hour weeks?  
  • if you have a day job and are also balancing side gigs like a blog, small business or artistic project, take a look at your calendar and keep in mind how much you're working during the day. decide on your side gig "work hours", whether it's 3 days a week or just 1. put these hours on your calendar and treat them just like the hours you do for your day job.
  • stick to them! decide what emails you must answer out of hours. but really here, be honest. are you working at a hospital? is this email going to save a life? is it truly time sensitive? probably not. it can wait an additional 12 or so hours until your "work hours" start, can't it? and in that time, what can you do for yourself instead? read a book, take a walk?
  • when you do work, work efficiently. how much more work on your side job could you get done if you utilized 3-4 solid hours on 2 days a week to really dive in, and opposed to feeling scattered - watching a youtube video in between answering emails or trying to do 10 things at once. focus on the task at hand. you may find you didn't need to work as much as you thought.

do you have work hours for your side business or blog? could you benefit from them?


  1. With me working in a restaurant, it can be difficult at times to come up with a "work schedule" just because I don't know how my actual work schedule will be the next week. Sometimes it changes from work to week. Especially if I have to work multiple doubles in the week, it can be difficult to find that time to work on the blog. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Woah, I'm sure that's really difficult. If I were you, I'd look at your free time, and decide just how much of that you do want to devote to your blog. It's all about making time - which may mean you sacrifice something else in order to work on it, which is up to you to prioritize. Or, you can set a goal at the beginning of the week - "I will work on my blog for 3 hours this week" and then throughout the week, when you have spare time, work towards that goal.

  2. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful post, Meredith! This is relevant for most writers and bloggers with full-time jobs. I'm steadily learning to incorporate my blogging "work hours" into my weekly full-time schedule so that I am not overwhelmed with doing everything at once. Personally, I think it's helpful to break things into small steps over the course of my week (i.e. develop topics, brainstorm, research, draft, edit, etc.). Thanks again for writing about the challenges that many bloggers face. It is definitely necessary to schedule time strictly devoted to your blog to keep things balanced!

  3. I have to set aside time for these kinds of things because if I don't I feel stressed out as well. I'm glad you've been able to make a schedule that works! :)

  4. Are you secretly writing posts just for me? This is something I've really been struggling with so I'm so happy to read this. I've been trying to blog in any free time I have, and it's starting to burn me out a little. I need to do this! I know I could find the time, but it's more making sure I stick to it.


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