Want to keep your side gig going without ruining your career? Here's how.

So you’ve started your own side gig. You have drive, you have passion, and you have the energy to bring something you love to life after hours. You also might have trouble switching off, mild sleep deprivation, and the challenge of carving out a career while you do your own thing.

Keep your day job and side gig separate

“It’s important to keep your day job and personal work separate, not just mentally, but also on a professional level,” says Melbourne-based designer and freelance illustrator Julia Laskowski , who works full time at a creative agency while tackling freelance art and illustration on the side.

Julia started an Instagram  of her artwork a couple of years back, and the freelance requests flowed in. “It’s fantastic working on your personal stuff, but it does lead to 12-hour work days sometimes,” she explains. “You need to be able to compartmentalise to focus on the task at hand.”

To do this, Julia keeps separate email accounts and notifications for her day job and side gig. She’s also transparent with her employer about her freelance work. “None of these creepy cloak and dagger situations!” she says. “If you are up front it can also open doors and lead to more opportunities. My employer is very understanding.”

That’s not always the case, though. “If your personal work competes with your day job, for example, designer versus designer, it could get messy,” says Ellie King, who heads up ceramics and lifestyle brand, Rittle . If you think your side gig might pose a conflict of interest, it’s probably best to keep things quiet while you work out if you can balance both, or consider shifting roles in your day job.

Set goals and stay focused

When Ellie started Rittle two and a half years ago, she actually owned a café. “I did it as a creative outlet as coffee life wasn’t doing it for me any more,” she says. To balance things and make sure she stayed focused, Ellie set up a studio at home and set daily goals. “I make sure I do a least one task to do with the business each day then I never feel like I’m neglecting it,” she explains. “It can be as small as going to the post office or posting on Instagram.”

Get some down time

Even the greatest things in life have their challenges. For both Julia and Ellie, (and many side-giggers) it’s hard to find time out to chill out. “I can feel guilty and get depressed if I’m not working on a project,” Ellie admits. “But I really love working, too, so I definitely find it hard to switch off.”

To prioritise down time, Julia has some tips. “A good trick for this is getting out to nature. Sometimes you don’t notice how much noise you receive on a daily basis, and focusing on what’s immediately surrounding you can actually help you recharge.”

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Upsiders is a collective that’s about celebrating, inspiring, and empowering young Australians to pursue their passions via side gigs.

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