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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 August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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