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How to Manage a Side Hustle with a 9-5

Side hustle: it’s the word(s) of the year. Or rather, of a generation: millennials are known for their hustle, with over a third opting for a second (or third) source of income. Many more millennials have passion projects: maybe not profitable, but instead offer individuals the opportunity to explore an interest and add skills. We could spend a whole article or six talking about why millennials love the side hustle (crushing student debt and the need to feel entrepreneurial are just two reasons), but before you jump into the grind deep-end, there are some things you need to prepare for.

In 2016, I made tens of thousands of dollars side hustling. As a professional digital marketer, I use my skills at my corporate 9-5 and as a freelance strategist for clients in my spare time. I also write and promote Victori Media — my personal finance and career platform for millennial women — which is a huge monster in and of itself.

There is a certain glamour to side hustles in this day and age, a certain badge of honor with being tired. You must do a million things and never be satisfied and push until you can’t push any harder. Work to get ahead, make more money, gain more skills. It’s an easy trap to fall into.

It’s moments like these when I realize that having a full plate — corporate job plus side hustle plus other side hustle plus a semi-social life — can and will leave you burned out. But only if you let it. You’re allowed to work hard. You’re allowed to be busy. You’re allowed to make more money, work on more projects, indulge in a passion — but never without caring for yourself first.

Managing a side hustle and 9-5 has been honestly really difficult, especially in the last few months. As my 9-5 has gotten more exciting — and thus, more demanding — I’ve also seen my business grow. I’m being asked to speak and lead different events, brands reach out to work with me, and young women are looking for advice both through my blog and one-on-one.

I wish I could say I’ve found a perfect balance, but it’s not that easy. I’ll have an especially social weekend with friends, and nothing will get done for the business.

Managing your time is ROUGH. There’s no way around it. When you get home from work, all you want to do in collapse on the couch with a pint of Halo Top and a bottle of wine. But there are courses to create, and emails to respond to, and work to be done.

I was recently asked at a global panel about how I manage to balance a side hustle with ANOTHER side hustle with a 9-5. And I realized that although side hustles can often be exhausting, they are incredibly rewarding. They make you better at your job, grow your skills and network, and earn you more income flexibility. They offer that entrepreneur-side of you to flourish.

Good time management, goal setting, and prioritizing are so important. More than once (hundreds of times), I’ve crashed on my couch on a long day instead of working out, writing that blog post, or pitching a new client. And while this kind of care — shutting your brain off — is incredibly important, it must be harmonious with productive work.

So what are some actionable strategies you can implement to regain some control over your 9-5 AND your side hustle?

  • 1. What I discovered is that you have more time than you think you do. Every second of free time must be utilized, even if that means it’s spent taking care of yourself. Those 20 minutes on the bus every morning? They’re your time to check emails or respond to Instagram comments. Those 20 seconds spent waiting for your faucet to warm up? Do squats. Your walk to work or an appointment? Call your mom.
  • 2. Manage your expectations. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a million and a half ideas (but not enough time, energy, resources, etc. to see them all through.) Understand that you are one person. Realize that quote “you have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce” is bullshit because she has a chef, personal trainer, nanny, private jet, and money at her disposal. Be realistic with your goals and your hustle – the last thing you want is burning yourself out to the point where none of it gets done.
  • 3. Work when you have energy. I often have myself so scheduled that things like meals, workflow, or bedtime are set in stone. However, you may get an unexpected rush of energy at 10:36 p.m. — take advantage of it, because it might not come back for awhile.

Working both a full-time job and a side hustle is one of the most challenging things you will do. But I cannot recommend it enough. It will open doors, give you new experiences, and make you an extra stash of cash. If you’re a creative — designer, marketer, artist, photographer, writer, etc. — and interesting in leveraging your skills, now’s the time.


Tori Dunlap is a marketer, blogger, speaker, and coach. As a professional digital marketer, Tori leads, develops, and executes social media and communication strategy for global brands. Her career started with landing a digital marketing contract worth tens of thousands, and a full-time position as the head of marketing and communications for a global security company — all before she turned 22. As the founder of Victori Media, she helps millennial women manage their money and level up their careers. She’s obsessed with finding cheap flights and reading good books in the bathtub. She can be found on Instagram as @victorimedia

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