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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 March 25, 2020

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    1. Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    2. Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    3. Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    4. Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    5. Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    6. Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    7. Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    8. Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More Note-Taking Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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