When was the last time you left your day job, drove home and sat completely idle for an entire evening?
If you’re a member of Gen Y, you are probably pursuing multiple hobbies and additional sources of income well after closing time at your 9-to-5, which means your job doesn’t end at the onset of rush hour traffic—it’s just getting started.
Whether you’re working your way up the ranks on Wall Street or interning at a fashion house, identifying with one passion is now a thing of the past. Today, young professionals are known for holding down a day job and side hustles simultaneously while still trying to make time for much-needed happy hours and vacations.
If you’re feeling like your days are blending together and you’re unsure of how to maintain it all, here’s how you can make time for work-life balance when your side-hustles are your life:
Wake up a little earlier. This is a strategy that will never get old. We all want to hit the snooze button one three times before we get up to face the day, but challenge yourself to start waking up 30 minutes earlier. As a huge believer in being well rested, I’m not a big fan of the “no sleep” movement that some people swear will skyrocket you to success. With just an extra half-hour, you are able to get at least one thing scratched off that ever growing to-do list whether it’s getting a quick cardio session in, completing the intro of an article or sending out a few emails.
Prioritize realistic goals for each week. As much as we want to be a superhero and get everything done at once, it just isn’t possible—or realistic. Take some time at the beginning of each week to decide what small tasks should be completed in order to meet the deadline of a larger project. It’s best to break action items up into smaller chunks instead of trying to do everything upfront or waiting until the last minute and frantically piecing everything together.
Focus on one thing. I’ve had countless conversations with friends who are multi-passionate like me, and I’ve learned that it’s natural to want to pursue everything at once or maybe because you have so many interests, you’re unsure of what your key focus should be. I have a big fear that if I focus too much on one thing, I’m telling my other passions “I’m just not that into you”—which is really not the case at all. What I’m learning right now is, if you try to focus on everything, you’re really focusing on nothing. Taking the time to explore one or two projects work out best because it allows you to decide if what you’re pursuing is something you truly enjoy. If so, you will be able to dedicate more time to doing a good job at mastering what you love.
Replenish your mind and body. Your mind will not function properly if you do not get adequate rest or the proper nutrition. As important as it is to get things done, its actually more important to listen to your body. Make it a point to take care of yourself in the midst of your chaotic schedule. Try taking a relaxing bath instead of a shower a few nights throughout the week. During your lunch break at the 9-5, try sitting in your car and practice thinking about absolutely nothing. Most importantly and probably the hardest thing for many to do—including myself, is unplugging completely from emails, text messages and social media after a certain time in the evening. A surprising reality is the world will not crumble into a million pieces if we don’t see the latest updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Remember you’re only one person. There’s a limit to how much work you can crank out a day and you can’t be everywhere at once. While it’s great to take awesome opportunities, it’s also okay to turn down a few—specifically if they aren’t those once-in-a-lifetimers. Getting in the habit of saying “no” to activities that you truly aren’t excited about will make you feel a lot better versus packing your schedule with a bunch of things you really didn’t want to say yes to in the first place. Sure, some people will be disappointed if you miss a happy hour but what’s one missed hour of sipping a glass of wine in the grand scheme of things?
Jaimee Ratliff (@WhatJaiSays) is a nationally published resource on career and life development. A communications professional who is addicted to hashtags and skymiles, Jaimee strives to encourage young professionals to maximize their personal brand while energizing their personal passions. When she is not dreaming up plans for her next international adventure, she can be found in Houston, Texas writing up a storm. Jaimee is also a freelance content creator for individuals and businesses. Her writing has appeared in Brazen Careerist (a Forbes top 100 career website), Chicago Tribune, Business Insider and Ragan Communications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the illustrious Spelman College.