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Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Managing Multiple Jobs At Once

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Managing Multiple Jobs At Once

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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