Is it just me or are we measuring our worth based on how much we can do in a day? On how many things can we add to the resume, boast about at the next brunch with our friends, and blame our tiredness on? Even after clocking in the standard 9 to 5 working time, I find many people attempting to further one-up themselves in the professional world. To me, it feels like the side hustle culture is an inherent part of how we measure our worth; i.e. if we aren’t hustling on the side then we aren’t deserving of praise and a decent life.

When I first started my side hustle, a bookkeeping role, I relished the chance to take on more work outside of my 9 to 5 job. It made me feel like I could take on anything and I considered myself to be more accomplished.

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Whilst I was getting underway with my side job, I was growing tired. But I continued working day and night, weekdays and weekends, and even dreaming about work. I tried to convince myself that I could handle the extra work and pressure. I mean, isn’t that how entrepreneurs achieve their success? By working non-stop? As time went on, my stress levels grew, I wasn’t getting any downtime, I was growing more distant from my family and friends, and I couldn’t focus clearly on either my day job or side hustle. Any spare moment I had, I was working.

I started my side hustle to make extra money. It wasn’t a passion project, but rather a financial necessity. I had to be honest with myself and measure the effort put in against the rewards of said effort. Was being overworked worth the little bit of extra cash?

While it was a huge reason, taking on a side hustle was not only due to finances. Entering full-time employment exposed me to the societal pressures of having a side hustle. My friends and colleagues described their side jobs as more of a hobby from which they can make more money whilst exploring their more creative pursuits. This brought a welcome change of pace and helped them to expand their horizons. Once I saw this in my friends and colleagues, I felt compelled to do the same and be part of the culture.

Was being overworked worth the little bit of extra cash?

This is a trend that’s becoming more popular today, with nearly half of working Americans (45%) report having a gig outside of their primary job and 25% of people in the UK describe themselves as having a side hustle. Not only can another job provide additional income, but it can also allow workers to discover the right vocation without waving goodbye to a regular paycheck, and could eventually lead to full-time work. Although the low-risk factors to working outside of 9 to 5 (earn extra without losing a job) were attractive to me, I realized soon enough my side job wasn’t going to lead anywhere when my capacity levels were dipping.

 

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While I am not against side hustle culture, I can’t rule out the expectations that have been imposed on millennials and Gen-Zers to fill our spare time with more work (Senior Designer Lex Lofthouse explores this notion in her Create Leicester webinar). We’re bombarded with the message that we should always be doing something and we should always keep busy. As a result, a side hustle acts as another burden on our shoulders we’re expected to perform.

If you’re considering a side hustle, it’s worth taking the time to figure out how you can balance your full-time job and side hustle without burning out. Here are the points to take on board:

• Ask yourself what your motive is. Do you want extra money, a career change, or pursue other interests outside your day job?
• Follow a side hustle schedule. Whether it’s 2 or 3 hours a day or week, set out a schedule you know you can commit to.
• Set boundaries between your main job and side hustle. It’s not fair on your employer if you bring your personal work to your full-time job. You need to keep both responsibilities completely separate.
• Allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate. Having a side hustle isn’t ‘me-time’ – I’ve come across websites where they have suggested that it is, which is ridiculous. It’s hard work you’re putting into your second job, so give yourself time to switch off.
• Be careful with your spending. Keep records of your side hustle expenses and ensure that what you’re spending to build your business is a necessity.
• Find a community or mentor you can open up to. Interacting with others can help you manage your stress as well as leaning helpful tips and advice.
• If it’s not right for you, then quit. This doesn’t mean you failed — if anything, it means you’ve worked out your priorities.

I’ll never say “never” to side hustles again. I’ll keep an open mind. But I’ve tried it before and I want to give myself a break right now. It feels like the side hustle culture glamorizes the work/no rest mentality millennials and Gen Z should live up to – and that is harmful. A side hustle can only work if you can prioritize it realistically alongside everything else you’re doing. Otherwise, like me, you will end up in a downward spiral.

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Rebecca Azad

By Rebecca Azad

Editorial Fellow