So I’ve been blogging for over a year now – 119 blog posts, and 855K views later, here I am. Honestly it is still unreal to me that this has become part of my life! If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I precariously balance working as a full-time educator along with this blog and YouTube channel, guest posting for the amazing Dawn Nicole, doing custom lettering work, opening a shop, teaching some workshops… and being a human that values her relationships and health. Am I crazy?! People ask me about how I manage to keep up with this along with my job – so, now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about working full time and maintaining a side hustle.
It’s a lot of work.
Oh friends, don’t let the pretty pictures and follower counts fool you – this endeavor is not (always) a sexy one. It is a lot of work. If I’m honest I’ll spend anywhere between 10-25 hours a week on these side gigs outside of my regular job hours. There’s a lot of messy bun, mind maps, and thinking hard about next steps. In a side hustle, no one is your boss, so I’ve cultivated a sense of discipline I’ve never had anywhere else. And this is not a miserable thing! I find a lot of meaning in what I do, and love adding value to the bullet journal and lettering communities. However, it’s definitely a huge tab in my brain to maintain momentum and consistency on blogging, business development, and social media.
If you were curious about my typical week…
If you didn’t know, we do NOT have kids and they aren’t part of our current plan, so this means my capacity will look a little differently than yours – adjust accordingly!
This breakdown is definitely not perfect – the tasks are fluid depending on what’s happening in my life – but it gives a sense of some of the things that go on behind the scenes at PPP HQ. This does NOT mean that my side hustle takes over my entire life. I’ll talk more about that later in this post.
Done is better than perfect.
This was ever the lesson! Related to my next point, I just don’t have capacity to wait until something is perfect, ultra-thorough before I press publish or I wouldn’t do anything. In the spirit of experimentation, I have very little qualms of getting something to about a 90% and then tweaking continually later on. The process is iterative the more I learn – since I will never know everything I need to know, it almost gives me permission to be done. The effort spent to get that last 10% could be better spent elsewhere. I am more stringent on the standards if it’s a paid gig, but for my own stuff, I give myself grace.
I have my limits.
As much as I’d like to pretend I’m a superhuman, I have definitely found my limits and have embraced them. As a full-time employee, there are choices that I’ve actively made in order to keep this hustle joyful and sustainable. For example:
This isn’t just a blog-related lesson – Brene Brown emphasizes that those who can embrace their limits and boundaries are those who have the capacity to be most compassionate and whole-hearted. I learned this the hard way last year when everything came to a head at holiday-time when I nearly lost it. I needed to embrace saying no – because actually, knowing what I say no to means I can confidently say YES to something else!
Create systems & streamline.
Productivity folks tout the benefits of creating patterns and routines in our lives – it takes up less energy to make decisions and work through a problem when you can rely on familiarity to guide you. That’s how systems work for me. I used to work at a coffee shop and got really good at making 2-3 drinks at a time because I was so familiar with how to start steaming milk over here while I was prepping the base of another drink there. The same sort of process emerged for me with writing posts and editing video. The more familiar I got to my rhythm, the easier it got to cut down on transition time, which makes these logistical back-end pieces less cumbersome.
Systems and processes I rely on:
It takes a village.
If there’s anything I learned, it’s that many people support one another for success. Of course the most paramount is my partner, Mr. PPP, who is astoundingly supportive by leveraging his strengths in cooking and doing some extra housework knowing that I’m working on this business. If I had to do ALL of it, I would not be here right now!
I also rely on friends in the community for inspiration and support. My lucky stars have brought the amazing Kim (@tinyrayofsunshine) and Kara (@boho.berry) into my life and have become a master-mind group to share successes and challenges and encourage one another. I’m part of a Creative Team with Dawn Nicole and am constantly getting mentored by other incredible powerhouses in my art and in developing my blog. With Lettering League I rely on my spunky partners in crime, Rani, Crystal, and Jenn. These are people I never dreamed of meeting until I got into this work – so who can you partner with?
And of course, I rely on the overall bullet journal community to help write guest posts to continue sharing value with all of you. That help has been crucial to any kind of success I have – I stand on the shoulders of giants.
I must design the schedule.
All of this to say, I DO have other things going on in my life! I spend a lot of time with my family, I travel, I have friends (LOL) – and although of course this has become a big part of my time, I have gotten more intentional with creating the schedule around the things that are important to me. It isn’t as rigid as you might think – it actually allows me to be even more fluid.
Each week, Mr. PPP and I sit down for a Sunday meeting to go over the week. This is when we get on the same page about our evening commitments, meals, big tasks, etc. I schedule my side-hustle time like I schedule my workouts, the week’s blog posts, happy hours, and so on. Sometimes I’ll say no to an invitation because I really want to put in some time into a project, but I try to make room for these connections that give me so much life. That’s why I try to have so many high-level overviews of things as possible (like the time chart of my job above), so I know what’s going on, where there is space, and can arrange tasks and commitments to adapt to what I need. For example, if I find out a friend is coming into town, I know enough about what other commitments I have that week to rearrange days and work ahead in other ways in order to make ample time to see them. As I said, it’s structured but can be VERY fluid when things come up.
Overall, these are the biggest takeaways of being a full-time employee and a side-hustler. I’ve learned my limits and made more active choices than I ever have in my life. It gets messy, it’s a lot of work sometimes, people can be mean about the stuff you put out there, but somehow I’m keeping it together. Give yourself the permission to do what you need to do to keep your passion project a PASSION.
Do you do something similar? What’s been your biggest learning? I’d love to know in the comments!