The year of 2019 was all about side hustle. The ‘gig economy’, the era of the ‘girlboss’, burning the midnight oil – our hobbies became our passion projects and as money got tighter, we all worked harder. The generations of Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z were rapidly educated by bloggers and media storms on the beauty of the side hustle, as we turned our part time yoga routine into a series of sponsored Instagram tutorials. We transformed our daily lives into podcast streams and spent hours in charity shops, thrifting vintage clothing to sell on Depop. In 2020, we have a new word for that. The ‘5-9’ is the latest way to describe your hustle, as it typically takes place outside of the ‘9-5’ working hours. It’s the time between the end of your shift and sleep, taking up 12 solid hours of work in two different workplaces. Increasingly common in young professionals, the 5-9 can be your Etsy store, your Youtube channel, your blog, your freelance business, your tailoring shop or your craft organisation. It can be your tutoring, your mentoring ,your gardening business or your late night novel writing course – if you’re still hustling, it’s a 5-9.
But how do you fit it all in? Where do you find the time to eat, sleep, socialise and rest? How you balance the books and manage your taxes? When do you tell your colleagues about your secondary stream of income and can if affect your job security? There are so many questions to ask about the side hustle, and having turned my own 5-9 into my 9-5 (and then adopted a new 5-9 immediately afterwards) I figured I would share some of my tips on suriving the grind.
Check your contracts
Before you get too invested (both emotionlly and financially) in your 5-9, you need to do your research. If you’re working in an industry similar to your full time work, there could be grounds for a breach of contract should you be discovered. Many workplaces have clauses embedded in their contracts, stipulating that employees cannot have similar streams of work, connect with existing clients or set up potentially rivialling businesses to their 9-5 job. If you get caught violating this clause, there is a chance you could lose your job or face disciplinary action – which no one wants.
There are many ways to make this work for you though. Once you know the limits set by your contract, you have several options. 1) You switch up your hustle and try something else, prioritising the security of your full time job and your main source of income. 2) You can attempt to work with your boss or management team to come to a compromise – perhaps you agree to approach an entirely different target audience, offer differing services or even change your target location to avoid any crossovers. 3) You end or terminate your full time contract, and search for another role that will allow you to hustle alongside your job. 4) You keep quiet and as long as you have an ultimate goal of leaving your full time role within a set amount of time, you carry on with your hustle. Some contracts will also have post-termination clauses, meaning you can’t work with a rival business for say 6 months after you’ve left, so make sure you check that out too.
Check in with yourself
Working a full time job can be a strain. Working two jobs can be an ordeal if you don’t look after yourself properly. It’s so important to check in with your mental and physical health at least once a week, focusing on taking a breather, getting some good sleep and exercise in between your work.
One of the most troublesome disadvantages of a constant grind is burnout, where your mind can’t cope with the stress and strain of working overtime. Your body and your creative process can shut down, causing emotional distress and physical exhaustion from pure lack of rest and relaxation. So take some time out where you can – read a book, have a nap, drink some tea or go for a walk before getting stuck into your next task.
Organisation is key
We’ve all been there. We have an idea for a project, and it becomes all consuming. We don’t want to talk about or do anything else until it’s finished and we’ve drunk so much coffee our fingers are shaking and we’re just so excited to get started that we’ve accidentally missed three meetings and a dentist appointment. If you’re going to take on the 5-9, you have to make sure your 9-5 won’t suffer for it. This covers both your professional life and your personal life too, and having an organisational system that works for you is crucial.
To truly ‘do it all’, you need to start making lists of everything you need to do and where you need to be at least one week ahead – factoring in social calls, grocery shopping, birthday meals and date nights too. You matter just as much as your work does and you should include some self-care into your timetable.
Start Planning Ahead
For some people, their 5-9 hustles are simply small pockets of time in which they work. They have no plans to expand or grow their miniature business and all they want to do is keep the income steady. For others, however, their side hustles have become a potential future industry and they want to step up their game. So when you can – start to plan. Financially, this could mean putting aside your earnings into a saving account for future expenses i.e. paying yourself a salary, looking into product storage, hiring equipment or assistants… Practically, this means working out the demand for your business, figuring out how to grow your consumer base and calculating the man hours required to work it full time.
Try and set yourself some short term goals as a test run at turning your 5-9 into your 9-5. For example, push yourself to complete a certain number of orders per day for one week or try to double your earnings in one month. You could even work on a new short term marketing strategy to gather interest in your business through paid ads or social media posts. Use the time you currently have – with a steady income behind you – to plan for the future and figure out just how feasible your full time hustle can be.
If in doubt, get some help. In 2020, there are so many different people looking for part time or voluntary experience in so many industries. From fashion design to website development, if your side hustle is starting to spill over into your real life or cause you stress, there are always students or young people willing to help. Set up an ad online or message your nearest college to see if there any students willing to learn on the job and give you a hand for a couple of hours a week. All you’ll need to do is provide a great reference and walk them through your work and your workload could be halved in no time.
Yes, a 5-9 can be an exciting and amazing, opportunity-filled hobby. But your full time job is just as important, so make sure you get that balance right before burning out.
Have a good week!