We’ve been home from FinCon for a week and I haven’t done any work on my blog. Not even a FinCon review. I learned so much in the last two months (from FinCon and the PopUp Business School) that my head is swimming with new ideas and things to implement! I have website changes to make, sites to visit, meetings to set up, and posts to write.
It’s work that I want to do, not really work that I have to do.
But I have a time problem now. And maybe it’s because I’m addicted to “have to” do work. The work where I trade my time for an employer’s money. And even though I’ve cured myself of OMY syndrome, I think I’ve slowly replaced it with side hustle fever – and not the entrepreneurial kind.
When I left full-time work in June, I knew I’d be doing some part-time work for the next five years. Since I just turned 50, I have a 5-year gap until I can “officially” retire and collect my pension. I’m trying to maximize time in the retirement system and I can do that by teaching high school classes online. This allows us to be location independent and only takes about 4 hours/week. And I can choose the hours. This is Side Hustle #1 and it’s not going anywhere.
Without a full-time job (and with the lake house renovation just starting), I thought I had plenty of time to pick up a few other short-term jobs too. Remember that we’re living in a travel trailer for a few months in upstate NY. I thought it would be good to get out of our 200-square foot living space and earn a little extra cash while we wait for the house to be done!
I decided to substitute teach on occasion in my old school. I knew I wouldn’t get rich doing this at $100/day, but this counts toward retirement too. And I get to choose the days I want to work (7.5 hours/per day worked). This is Side Hustle #2.
Back in August, I also accepted a contract to supervise a few student teachers in our area. I knew I’d have plenty of time and I enjoy working with pre-service teachers. And even though it doesn’t give me retirement system credit (it’s through a private college), it only takes about 3 hours per week. This is Side Hustle #3.
And one afternoon in September, I opened my email to find an invitation to teach a five-week online college course starting in mid-October. Sure – why not? That’ll practically pay for our FinCon trip or some new kitchen appliances next month. And it only takes 4 or 5 hours each week, even though I don’t get any retirement system credit. This is Side Hustle #4.
Then a friend who works at a state college asked if I’d supervise some student teachers for a 7-week session starting in late October. I never gave it a second thought because I’d probably be able to combine trips to schools with my other group of student teachers. And this time I’ll get paid and earn retirement system credit! But it will also take me about 8 more hours of work each week. This is Side Hustle #5.
I also do some freelance writing for business websites (because I have so much free time you know!) And the commitment for that work averages about 4 hours per week. (Side Hustle #6)
And because we thought we’d have time to volunteer more this fall, we decided that we could help out on election day! We thought we’d devote at least half a day to volunteer. Then we found out that it is a paid position and they really needed our help all day. We took the training and we’ll be elections officials from 5:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. tomorrow! A 16-hour day for $200. This is Side Hustle #7.
I just typed the number 7. I have seven side gigs right now… Yes, I might have a problem!
If you add up the time it takes to do each side hustle, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Some weeks it might be 20-25 hours and other weeks it is closer to 35 hours or more. It all depends on what hustle is happening and if there are outside issues to deal with too.
And then there is blogging. I really enjoy it, but it does take time. And if I call it a side hustle (with the profit I’ve made), you can add another 8 or more hours a week to the list. This is Side Hustle #8.
Is all this work really a problem? I used to have a (very) full-time job and a few side hustles. But even with all the extra time I have now, I am struggling to keep up with 40+ hours of work in a busy week.
What’s the difference?
Having a bunch of side hustles is using too much of my mental bandwidth (with credit to Paula Pant at Afford Anything for introducing me to that term!) In an effort to be a good employee, I check emails often. I answer student questions throughout the day. I make myself available if they need help. I don’t skip meetings. And I volunteer to take on more.
I say yes, when I should say no.
Way. Too. Often.
I’m a good employee, but so far – I’m a lousy entrepreneur.
Sound familiar to anyone else out there?
Even though I’m not working full-time, the house renovations, camper life, and some important family issues have taken up a lot of time too.
And there hasn’t been time for creative thinking or putting all I’ve learned in the last two months to use.
I haven’t made time to call to potential site sponsors or check in with people I missed at FinCon. And there are no times on my calendar set to collaborate with some awesome folks I’ve met.
I’m neglecting the main reasons I went to the two conferences in the first place.
How easy it’s been to fall back into “working” – even when I thought I gave it up! And my excuse for doing this – I’ll have plenty of extra time!
What’s my plan to get back to doing what I want to do? I’m just getting started, but I’ve made some progress too!
- At FinCon, I got an email offer for another online college class and promptly DECLINED. No more online college classes. One hustle down…more to go!
- I’m not going to accept any more student teaching supervision offers – even if they earn time in the retirement system. As much as I enjoy this work, it can add hours of extra time completing lengthy rubrics and evaluations, along with dealing with problems that come up. Another hustle gone!
- The election day work is a one-day deal, but we’ll be more careful in the future too. After putting in a 16-hour day, I have to go observe student teachers two days in a row. TGIF will have some meaning again this week!
- I’m going to try the “time blocking” strategy suggested by one of the FinCon keynote speakers. I may have turned down some work if I saw it all mapped out in front of me.
I’m keeping the online high school work and the occasional substitute teaching days because of the impact on my pension. These should average about 12 hours a week. But my plan so far cuts my current side hustle “work” time by at least 30-40%.
Freelancing and blogging are the big questions right now. By the start of 2018, I need a better plan and direction. And that’s where I’m going to focus my efforts for the next six weeks.
One of the keynote speakers at FinCon reminded us that blogging without a business plan can become an expensive hobby – in terms of time and money. And if you blog as a hobby or you enjoy helping and interacting with others, that is great. Just know what benefits you are getting from the time you invest.
My blogging is a way to give back (sharing what I’ve learned), but I have to find a balance too. I’ve made more money through blogging (and the freelancing that has come from it) – this year than any of my other side hustles, but it’s the first one I set aside when I get busy. And that’s because I don’t “have to” do it.
It’s time to re-think my plans! My mentoring session at FinCon really has me thinking in new and different ways. More on that soon.
I’m also super interested in doing more collaborating in the very near future. If you’ve ever been interested in working with someone (or a group of people) on various projects, let’s talk! Even if you aren’t sure what it is you might want to do! Comment here and I’ll get in touch with you – or send me at firstname.lastname@example.org And it doesn’t have to be about writing or blogging!
Do you have a side hustle (or 8????) Are they entrepreneurial or are you working for an employer? Is anyone feeling the same “brain drain” as me? What are you doing about it?