One job can keep workers busy enough. For the nearly seven million Americans who are juggling two or more jobs, getting everything done can seem downright impossible. Still, the Bureau of labour Statistics reports that around 5 per cent of American workers manage to hold down multiple jobs, most often when one is full-time and the second part-time.[See 10 Questions That Will Help You Earn More Money.]
Their motivation? Often, it’s for the money. In today’s uncertain job environment, finding more than one source of income can be the best way to guarantee a paycheck. “No job is secure. If you’ve created multiple streams of income, at least you aren’t left with no income, even if it’s just to supplement unemployment insurance,” says Glinda Bridgforth, financial coach and author of Girl, Get YourMoney Straight.
In order to make it work, multiple job holders figure out ways to find more time in their days. Here are eight of their strategies:
1. organise your workspace. Bridgforth says that when she was writing her first book, she faced major writer’s block. Then, a friend gave her a book on feng shui. After staying up until 2 a.m. reading it, she woke up early the next morning to start decluttering. Her office area, she realised, was filled with library books and magazines.
“Once I cleaned up the office, I finished the book. Having a clutter-free environment keeps your mind clear and helps you stop wasting time,” she says. That allows her to juggle her writing, financial coaching, and speaking commitments.
2. Make a to-do list instead of watching television at night. Martin Cody juggles two full-time jobs: He’s vice president of sales for a medical software company as well as founder of Cellar Angels, an online wine retailer than also supports charities. In the evenings, he avoids television, which he estimates saves him at least 30 minutes a day, or 180 hours a year. Instead, he makes time to write down five things he absolutely must do each day for each of his businesses.
Cody also keeps a notepad by his bed in case other ideas come to him throughout the night. “If anything pops into your head that’s causing you anxiety, write it down, and then you can sleep,” he says. That way, he starts each day with a game plan—and he wakes up half an hour early to get started on it.
3. Live by a day planner. While the proliferation of apps and mobile devices make it easy to get organised electronically, Ford R. Myers, career coach and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring, swears by the more traditional paper methods. “When you write something with your hand in ink, it has a deeper commitment,” he says, adding that he likes to be able to see his entire week at once without having to scroll on a screen.
Myers has used the same week-at-glance calendar for 25 years, which helps him keep up with his multiple commitments as an author, career coach, and consultant. “It runs my life. Once something is on my calendar, it gets done,” he adds.
4. Wake up with the birds. Jennifer Teates works 30 to 35 hours a week as the manager of a law firm and she also spends an hour or two each day writing for her local paper, the Annapolis Examiner, and other websites, on personal-finance issues. She’s also the mum of a one-year-old. She does it all because she loves it all, and her law-firm work often gives her ideas for article topics.
She gets everything done by waking up an hour or two before her son so she can get in some writing time first thing in the morning, when she’s most productive. “If I have something I want to really concentrate on, I try to do that in the morning, when I’m at my best,” Teates says. Then, in the evening, she unwinds and gets in bed in time to squeeze in six to seven hours of sleep, which she says is enough for her.
5. Take a sabbatical. Ebony Utley, author of Rap and Religion: Understanding The Gangsta’s God and associate professor of communication studies at California State University—Long Beach, discovered an unexpected upside to the two-day a month furlough experienced by all California State University faculty that began 2009. Since she had extra time and needed to make up for the lost cash, she ratcheted up her speaking and writing careers, as well as her website, theutleyexperience.com.
“I sent an email to everyone I knew and said, ‘I have free days, can I come and speak?'” says Utley. Soon, she was making the rounds on the university speaking circuit, talking about rap music, racial stereotypes, and the hip-hop generation. Now, Utley is starting a year-long sabbatical, which will allow her to start her next book on infidelity in pop culture and real life, and continue her speaking tour.
6. Take advantage of weekends. During the work week, Stephanie Theodore is busy with her full-time job as a department manager at a financial firm. But on the weekends, she has another identity altogether: art studio owner. She runs her own Brooklyn gallery, Theodore: Art, which is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (Theodore is there on Saturdays and Sundays.)
“I do everything in my off-time. A lot of what goes on in the gallery is not about the gallery hours but about meeting people, organisation, and installations,” says Theodore. In addition to her weekends, she usually dedicates one or two evenings a week to the gallery, as well. Like Cody, she avoids zoning out in front of the television. “It’s a mind-melting time suck,” she says.
7. Take up contract work. When Dana Lisa Young launched her wellness business, Atlanta-based Dragonfly Reiki, in 2008, she also held down a 40-hour-a-week content management job. That meant building her wellness business, which includes Reiki, reflexology, and life coaching, entirely in the evenings and the weekends. That mostly worked out fine, since most of her clients preferred to meet in off-hours as well, but it left Young, who is also a mother, with very little down time.
Young eventually left her full-time job and replaced it with contract work, which means she can work from home on a more flexible schedule. She manages all of her commitments on Google Calendar as well as a family wall calendar. “I’m very conscious of scheduling things and blocking out periods so I know I have those times to work,” she says. She often gets back on the computer to finish up contract work after her children go to bed, for example.
8. Dedicate certain time periods to your second job. As a full-time criminal justice student at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., Nicholas Ignacio is busy—and he recently became even busier after launching his student-run lawn care business. After starting Strong Students Lawn Care (www.strongstudentslawncare.com) three months ago, he started spreading word through Craigslist, and soon found that his services were in great demand. Homeowners and businesses are especially happy to support local college students by hiring them, he says.
Now, he dedicates three to four days a week to working on his business and the other days to class and studying. That way, he’s able to keep up with his college work—while also earning enough to pay for his living expenses.
Corrected 8/01/2012: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the location of Marymount University.