Climbing The Ladder

Why A Side Job Is What Will Actually Make You Good At Your 9-to-5

By | Friday, July 01, 2016


Behind every hustle bunny –- at least, in the infancy of said bunny’s hustle –- is a 9-to-5 gig. Before she can become her own boss, she more than likely has a boss of her own. It’s a fact of life, especially if you discover your passion after incurring a few financial obligations (like a couple of kids, a fixed mortgage, and a copious amount of student loans –- basically, ME!). But I’ll let you in on a little secret: your day job and your side hustle combined will create a Stronger You overall. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting tables at a diner, pushing papers in a stuffy office, or working retail at the local mall. While pursuing your passion behind the scenes, your day job should be viewed as an investment in your side hustle.

Author Hugh MacLeod writes an array of books focused on creativity. Among these is a tome entitled (aptly enough) How To Be Creative. One of the biggest takeaways I got from this book was something MacLeod refers to as the “sex and cash theory.” The theory states that, in life, it’s normal for your side hustle (the sex) to coexist with your day job (the cash). “As soon as you accept this, for some reason, your career starts moving ahead faster,” MacLeod contends. Understanding this idea has not only made my day job/side hustle juggling act easier to manage, but it also pushed me to find ways to make the sex and cash gigs mutually beneficial to one another.

Here are four ways your side hustle actually strengthens your day job:

1. It Encourages Discipline.

Imagine yourself at your day job on a typical mundane Tuesday. Sure, you’d rather be home working on your draft of the Great American Young Adult Novel you’ve been writing for months (or years!), or fine-tuning the blog post about your fall fashion must-haves. But when you are at the gig, you are paying the bills and your mind needs to be there. Whether you like it or not, your time at your day job has to be dedicated to the tasks you are being paid to perform –- not on building your brand.

I know, it’s a hard kick in the ass, and you’ll be tempted to try to do both, but the discipline that comes from this division of time is good for you. The payoff of training yourself to zone in on your day job is that the time you have allotted for your side hustle will be 100% about that -– not about worrying about the day job deadlines you missed because you were slyly plotting out your latest blog post. Unless you are out to lunch or on a break, your attention to your day job needs to be full and committed so you can keep getting those coins to invest in what you really want to do.

2. It Broadens Your Credentials.

Anyone trying to build a brand knows that it takes more than a blog and a dream. You have to educate yourself about the inner-workings of your preferred industry. As an author, I took literary fiction classes and attended writing groups. I also read up on content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and online analytics in order to effectively sell the scribbles I was self-publishing. And guess what? My day job is very interested in those skill sets as well.

Whenever you boost your knowledge of a business principle that relates to your side hustle, make sure your colleagues and managers know that you know your shit. Put it on your resume (which you should be updating monthly) or contribute to a team project that may need to utilize those skills. Nothing like showing that you are invaluable to the job that (financially) fuels your passion!

3. It Kickstarts Your Motivation.

I work for a company that is constantly going through “restructuring,” as the Powers That Be like to call it. If you can relate to working in an environment like that, you’ll understand that finding a get-up-and-go attitude can be challenging and it can be hard to stay positive. This is where your side hustle comes into play. If I’m feeling grumpy at work, I take a mental break and read an especially awesome review from one of my books. Hello, instant mood booster! The daily (or sometimes hourly) reminders that I’m getting closer to my true dream helps to keep my positivity at the day job elevated. When “Side Hustle Eliza” is happy, “Day Job Eliza” is a motivated worker.

4. It Improves Your Organizational Skills.

Wearing many hats in life can be confusing and conflicting. Not only am I managing a day job and a side hustle, but I’m also busy being married and raising two children. People often ask me how I find time to do it all. My answer? I don’t find time, I make it. Establishing a side hustle schedule may reek of your Day Job Doldrums, but schedules are essential for both. Just as you are required to set aside time for meetings and training at your day job, you need to pay the same courtesy to your passion.

Break out a calendar (paper or digital, whatever works) and block out your time as needed. I prefer the Franklin Covey color-coding method of scheduling. It helps me to clearly see what time I have allotted for my day job, my side hustle, and my family. If you work it right, a schedule can ease your mind from the worry that you aren’t fulfilling all of the different goals in your life.

So get out there, fellow hustle bunnies, and seize the work day! Embrace the day job so you can see your side hustle flourish!

Eliza is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. The views and opinions expressed in Contributing Writer articles reflect those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the site. 

Image via Unsplash


You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.