How to manage two jobs without going insane

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Lauren asked, “Sarah! I love that you have two jobs that you love. I’m a freelance wedding planner and a freelance copywriter and I’m trying to merge the two jobs, but also I love both of them. How do you manage to juggle both, and how did you make the decision that Yes. I’m going to do two jobs and also not go insane? Thanks!”

Thanks for your question Lauren! Holding down two jobs is an utter balancing act, but it’s also rewarding that I don’t spend every day working out or every day stuck at the computer. I’ve managed to pick two careers that I have a ton of passion for, but also compliment each other and keep my life balanced.

In the beginning I never really intended two have two jobs. As I was planning to leave my corporate job for full-time freelance design I got the opportunity to start teaching (so I was actually working three jobs for a while >_<). I was able to ease into it at first, a couple clients and a couple classes, then once I was down to two jobs I took on full client load and began teaching four to six classes and a few private lessons each week.

Some days I work in the morning and then teach at night or teach then work then teach again. Other days I design all day or just teach and rehearse. Having two jobs where I’m the boss means I can build my schedule so I’m never working both all in one day. This is where my calendars come in…

I keep separate calendars for aerial classes, Weird Sisters shows, design clients, and my personal appointments. EVERYTHING goes in the calendar. Classes, meetings, dates with friends and the boyfriend, when bills need to be paid, calls I need to make, random errands. If it’s not on my schedule it isn’t going to happen. Yes, this makes my life not very flexible, but planning ahead is the only way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

It’s also important to prioritize. While I’m happy to take on new opportunities I’m also aware of my boundaries. I think there is a general feeling that because you can contact someone in multiple ways that you should receive a response immediately. I disagree. Unless it’s an emergency or the response takes 5 seconds I generally take 24 to 48 hours to respond to client and business email. If you’re not currently paying me, it’s probably going to take longer :)

Which leads me to my next point…you don’t have to please everyone. Learning this has been so helpful. I say no thanks, how about next week, not the right project for me often and it’s a huge relief to know everything on my plate is there because I want it there.

Taking a couple days off each week and knowing my limit is also extremely important. I prefer to sleep in and have a slow start to my day, but I also know that I hit a wall if I work too late into the night. So I try to do the bulk of my work when I know I’ll be most productive and then shut off my computer while I still have brain power left.

Instead of wasting time of Facebook or flipping channels, I use my free time to do things I know will recharge me. A weekend at my parent’s house, nights with the boyfriend, working out at home, hours spent reading, going on a cleaning rampage, dog walks, a good meal, a shower.

It eventually does become second nature to weave in between both jobs, but it takes a while to find that balance. I now know how much work I can take on in a day and a week so I can plan in advance and see where there’s a little wiggle room.

I do still have days (or weeks) when I feel like I can’t keep all the balls in the air and am barely making it through the day with my mind intact, but it is worth it. Yesterday I made pancakes in the middle of the day, took Slayer for a walk, and was able to schedule a rehearsal when it worked best for me. That would never ever happen without consequence at a normal corporate job.

To work for yourself you have to have to be driven and organized and that’s doubly important when you’re cramming two careers into your life, but it is possible! Find a schedule that works for you, plan your week ahead of time, say no often and take time to decompress and recharge on a regular basis.

A few more articles on not losing your shit when you have a ton on your plate…

How to make more time for business & blogging

How to balance freelance work with a full-time job

How to keep your sanity with a busy schedule

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Comments

  1. Susan says

    Great post! Up until last year, I always worked a few jobs and went to school, but I was CLEARLY missing the balance you talk about. This is my first time working just one job, and I’m still getting used to having free time.

  2. Mia says

    So glad someone asked about this — I am the WORST at saying no because I love everything I do, but even stuff you love doesn’t recharge you the same way actual rest and decompressing time does! I am about to embark on a totally new chapter of my life and I’ve grown so used to juggling multiple jobs with school and tons of hobbies that I’m not sure I know how to slow down anymore, even though it hasn’t been the best for my mental health. Hopefully this will help!

  3. Andi says

    You and I are in the same boat! I answered this same question a couple of weeks ago and I said pretty much the same thing. When I learned to finally say no I felt a million times better.

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