South Africa’s economy has often justified the need for people to have a ‘side-hustle’. Either as an alternative source of income to make ends meet or to live up to an Instagram-worthy lifestyle of luxury.  You’d be surprised at how many of your friends and colleagues are working on their own ‘side-hustle’ outside of their normal working hours. 

In light of the national lockdown and effects this is having on our economy, temporary lay-offs, retrenchments, short-term payments and job loss are real threats facing many individuals. This is causing people to seriously consider putting more effort and energy into their side hustles, or even starting one up.

So, when the dust settles – how would you go about managing your side hustle and maintaining your day-job?

First things first – start with why.

You might be thinking ‘more money, duh’. But defining the objective of your side-hustle is paramount to deciding how much effort you want to put into it and the effort-vs-reward on your wellbeing. 

Your ‘why’ will determine how much value you place on your side-hustle which is important to define early on. Balancing a full-time job while pursuing an alternative source of income will take a toll on your mental and physical well-being – and even your family and you need to decide upfront how important this is to you to pursue. 

Here are some examples of ‘why’ you may look into a side-hustle

  1. To pay off loans and debts quicker
  2. To make ends meet
  3. To have more disposable income
  4. To save toward a goal quicker – such as a family holiday or new home
  5. To work yourself out your day-job and into the position of ‘self-employed’ (not funemployed – there’s a difference ya’ll)

Speaking to your employer about your side-hustle

Your employer definitely doesn’t need to know what you do in your spare time, or how you spend it. But, you might find that being totally transparent about your side-hustle will save you in the long run and you might even get some referral business! 

Being able to justify the reason and importance of your side hustle will also help your employer be more understanding and compromising (hopefully). Hence the importance of understanding your ‘why’ and how much it means to you – it allows you to justify the need to pursue this alternative source of income and give you your very own ‘side-hustle’ elevator pitch, in case anyone asks.

When to tell your employer about your side-hustle

If you’ve decided to freelance within the same industry

Double check your employment contract but there will often be a clause which states that you’re not allowed to canvas or solicit business within the industry because you will be seen as ‘competing’ with the company. 

If that is the case, have an open conversation with your employer about why you’re looking for more freelance work – perhaps the company can come to an arrangement where if you’re able to bring business into the company then you earn a ‘finders fee’ – this is a win-win because you won’t have to break your back doing any hardcore overtime during your side-hustle, the company gets more business AND you get to earn a little extra anyway.

When you can’t be called upon to work overtime 

If you’re in a creative industry or your employer is notorious for giving last-minute deadlines which require you to get the work done no matter what, it’s important to let them know that you have other commitments outside of your contractual working hours. This allows you to manage expectations upfront and avoid awkward conversations 

If your day-time performance is going to suffer 

We’ve tried to give some tips below on how to maintain your performance at work while running your side-hustle. However, some days might be tougher than others and you may be hogging the coffee machine. 

It would be fair to let your colleagues and managers know that you have something else going on so that they don’t attribute poor work performance to other factors – such as lack of skill or enthusiasm for your current job. 

Perhaps you were up all night baking 56 gender-reveal cupcakes with confetti-blue filling and only got to bed at 3am

How to tell your employer about your side-hustle

With an agency of creatives, you can expect that at any given time there are members within the team who clock off and let their creative juices flow into their very own side-hustle. 

Here’s how we prefer to be kept in the loop:

  1. Make your intentions clear: We do appreciate and respect that some things are private, but we would like to know whether you’re trying to work yourself out of your day job so we know whether to prepare ourselves for your replacement one day.
  2. Be upfront about how you plan on not allowing it to affect your performance so there is no room for assumptions
  3. Manage expectations about your ability to work overtime and how much you’re going to be able to ‘give’ of yourself to the company
  4. If you think it’s going to conflict and that it competes with the company, ask permission

Maintain your performance at work after burning the midnight oil

There is a reason why we haven’t called this section ‘work-life balance’. It’s because that’s really cliche and there is going to be no real luxury of  work-life balance if you’re pursuing a side-hustle (again, depending on your ‘why’ and how much value you put into your side hustle, this will vary for each unique case). 

Instead, you need to know how to define boundaries and continue to perform at your 9-5 so that your side-hustle doesn’t end up becoming your only hustle.

Here are our tips:

Remember to eat – properly.

This should be obvious, but it’s often forgotten. 

Fuel your body throughout the day by eating regular meals and snacks. The right food is also incredibly important to keep your mind alert and your body energised. 

Get enough sleep and consider at least a NASA certified 26-minute power nap in-between hustles. 

7-8 hours is not going to be realistic if you’re pursuing an alternative means of income. What we suggest – if you’re not having to report to a place of work, take a nap after your day-job and before you start working on your side hustle. This will give you time to ‘reset’ after your day job and refresh you for round 2. Check out this infographic on effective ‘napping’.

Schedule some down-time

You’re going to be busy all the time. Schedule out time every 2 weeks or once a month to have a break. If you have annual leave days you’re entitled to, see if you can put a leave day in to avoid ‘burn-out’ or give yourself a day off on the weekend. 

Schedule this time in your calendar and stick to it. 

Be at work when you’re at work

This will require some strict boundary-setting but in order to perform optimally at your day-job, you’re going to have to leave your side hustle at home.

Mentally check-out of your side-hustle as soon as you step foot into the door of your 9-5. If you’re dealing with ‘clients’ or have urgent matters to attend to for your side-hustle, leave these until lunch time to deal with. Or clearly define your ‘working hours’ with your side-hustle clients. 

Not only will your daily performance suffer but your colleagues and employer will pick up on how distracted you are – causing frustration for them and an uncomfortable working environment for you.

Perfect your time management

Realistically, you only have 24 hours in a day. Wasting any time on unnecessary tasks will decrease your efficiency and productivity. 

Managing your time wisely during your day job will allow you to get all your work done within working hours (alleviating any pressure for you to take work home) and you’ll be able to stick to milestones/deadlines and goals of your side hustle effectively. 

Here are our favourite time-management and productivity tools:

  1. Asana : Use Asana to monitor your projects for different clients, stay on top of your deadlines or map out milestones on projects you’re working on or steps you need to take to build your business You can also check out for a similar service
  2. Cold-turkey: This is a browser-based application which will stop any distracting websites – and there’s no going back. You’ll be able to put your head down and work without any temptation
  3. Freedom: Unfortunately, Freedom has a limited number of ‘free blocks’ and you’ll have to pay for the premium version to enjoy unlimited blocking sessions while setting up custom block-lists to prevent access to time-wasting apps
  4. Forest: Similar to Freedom – but cooler and definitely our favouorite app. Worth the R30? Absolutely! This app gamifies productivity and was voted 2018’s best app of the year and voted the number one productivity app in 140 countries. What’s even cooler is that the team at Forest have partnered with real-tree-planters. Users can earn and spend virtual coins on planting trees which goes toward planting real trees with Forest partners!

Whatever reason you’re looking to pursue a side-hustle, we wish you the best of luck and hope you make a kick-ass success out of it!