5 Tips for Surviving a Second Job

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Nearly 7 million American adults held more than one job in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether you’re looking to explore a new industry, meet new people, or just earn some extra cash, there are a lot of good reasons to take on extra work.

“People find they need second jobs to bump up their income, stay active in a target industry, and build skills,” Charles Purdy, a senior editor at Monster Worldwide, told Bankrate.

But moonlighting also has some downsides. You’ll lose out on valuable me-time if you’re working a second gig, and balancing the demands of two or more jobs can leave you exhausted and overwhelmed if you’re not careful.

Before you jump at that weekend bartending gig, start signing up freelance clients, or set up shop as a part-time personal trainer, you need to have a plan for staying stress-free and sane. Here are five tips one how to survive if you have a second job.

1. Check your company policy

Before you start working on the side, check with your full-time employer to see if they have a policy that prohibits moonlighting or requires you to tell them about a second job. You may have signed an agreement when hired that prohibits you from working for your company’s competitors, for example. Even if there’s no formal policy, anything that looks like a conflict of interest (like freelancing for one of your company’s clients) could put your current job in jeopardy. If you’re in doubt about your company’s policy on side jobs, talk to your boss.

2. Do something different

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Try not to replicate your day job in your second gig, as that can lead to boredom and burnout. (You’ll also reduce the risk of a conflict of interest by working in an entirely different field.) Doing work that allows you to learn new skills, uses a different part of your brain than your full-time career, or allows you to pursue a passion that your full-time job doesn’t can make moonlighting more sustainable.

“If your main job is cerebral then pick a more physical second job or one that is more creative,” Eileen Blumenthal, a professional coach, told the New York Times. “One of my clients working in the banking sector and needing extra income recently took a second job as a yoga instructor.”

3. Have a clear goal

Keep the motivation for your moonlighting in mind so you don’t find yourself stuck in an endless cycle of 70-hour work weeks. If you’re trying to start a business, give yourself a clear time frame to make it work. If you’re working a second job to make ends meet, dedicate some time to finding a higher-paying full-time position so you can get your weekends back. If you’re saving for a financial goal, make a commitment to quit your second gig once you reach that target.

“Supplementing income is fine, but it’s best if a second job is part of an overall life and career plan,” John McKee, president and founder of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, told Monster. “Otherwise you risk scattering your resources.”

4. Find time-saving hacks

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Time is at a premium when you have multiple jobs. Calendar apps like Fantastical and Sunrise help you stay organized, while RescueTime will keep track of how you’re actually spending (and wasting) time on your computer. Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service automatically orders you more laundry detergent, printer toner, pet food, and other essentials when supplies are running low. If it’s in your budget, old-fashioned time-saving tricks like paying someone to do your laundry, grocery shopping, and other household tasks are often the trick to working two jobs and staying sane.

5. Know your limits

Burning the candle at both ends is tricky, and it’s easy to stretch yourself so thin that you’re not performing well at either your full- or part-time job. Your personal life may start to suffer as well, especially if you’re neglecting loved ones to focus on work. Watch out for signs of work-related anxiety (including less obvious ones, like frequent headaches and upset stomach) and identify a few stress-relief techniques that work for you, like deep breathing or exercise. If the demands of working multiple jobs is causing chronic mental or physical health problems, it’s time to cut back.

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