Embarking on a passion project can be an exhilarating, creativity-fuelled experience. Following one’s passions provides a sense of fulfillment and an outlet for one’s mental and physical itches. However, for most people, financial constraints mean that many have to keep a steady job even while pursuing their passions. It can seem daunting to juggle both a job and a separate passion project, but it can be done.
With the right mindset and effective time management techniques, it is possible to balance having a job and a personal project on the side. In this article, we will offer seven tips for doing just that. These practical tips will hopefully help you to achieve your dream goals while still keeping you afloat.
1. Clearly define your goals
This may seem a simple tip, but the core of setting up any sort of plan should be to define the intended outcomes and the goals. Outline what you aim to achieve, both short- and long-term. This will help you to stay motivated and focused.
Oftentimes with projects, an ultimate goal is in mind, but the parts that make up that whole is murky, making it difficult to know how to start. Clearly defined goals help with this by breaking down tasks into smaller milestones. Furthermore, when you take a break or start to lose steam, it usually helps to take a step back and revisit your goals.
2. Set realistic expectations
When it comes to passion projects, it can be tempting to go crazy with your ideas. But you need to remember your responsibilities. It won’t all come together as quickly as when you have no job. On the list of priorities, you can’t put the project above your responsibilities. So, give yourself a little more leeway with your time windows. If you think something should take a certain amount of time, be sure to double or even triple it.
Even then, there will be times when you are just not feeling it. That is normal. While a passion project can be a child born from your own heart, working on the same thing for a time can lead to burnout. It is easier to be motivated to do something when it is an idea. Our brains tend to focus on rewards and outcomes rather than the work involved in achieving said outcomes up until we actually sit down to make those ideas a reality. Just don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t achieve your goals within your set deadlines. Just keep working consistently and progress will be made.
3. Embrace consistency
Much like losing weight, passion projects are about consistency rather than overnight outcomes. It is easier to let having a job overpower your will to pursue your passion project. After all, there is only so much time in the day, a third of which is most likely spent in work, and another third spent in sleep. What little left there is to relax has to be carved up in such a way that you make time for your project.
A fire dies out when it runs out of fuel. The fuel for your passion project is your motivation. Even if it’s just a little every day, make sure you spend some amount of consistent time seeing to your project. You may not get results instantly, but one day, you will realise that you’ve come so much farther than you realise.
4. Create a structured routine
Routines help with consistency and therefore with momentum. A structured routine also helps you to feel less overwhelmed when it comes to actually working on your passion project. When you have only a limited amount of time to work on your project on the side, it doesn’t really benefit you to use that time thinking about what you’re going to spend that time on. Plan what parts of the project will be seen to at what times.
Assign specific tasks to each session. This helps you to keep moving forward. When there isn’t someone managing you, it is your responsibility to manage yourself.
5. Optimise your time
Time management is the name of the game here. Even if you have a structured schedule, not making use of the time set aside for your passion project will hamper any progress. Juggling multiple responsibilities means that time management is essential to getting anything done.
Don’t blend together different responsibilities and tasks. Allotted time is allotted time. Time for work should not bleed into the time set aside for your project and vise-versa. The more things your brain has to juggle at a given moment, the less efficient you will be. When it is time for work, don;t dedicate your mind to the project. When it is time to work on your project, focus on it. Switch off your notifications and minimise distractions. And when it is time to rest, make sure you rest, both mentally and physically.
6. Get help and support
It is quite likely that keeping a steady job is not your only responsibility. You have relationships to maintain, maybe even a family to take care of. Just because it is your passion project does not mean you need to shoulder all of its weight. If other people can help you with tasks, let them do so, especially if you’re not adept at those tasks.
Additionally, communicate with others. Tell them about your project and your plans and tell them where you are struggling. Lightening the load of your other responsibilities is something that the people who care for you will do within reason. Furthermore, they can be a source of motivation for you and can help you overcome intellectual hurdles.
7. Replenish your energy and your inspiration
Projects are time consuming and can drain your energy, both mentally and physically. You need to find ways to recuperate that energy otherwise you will burn yourself out. Take time out to do something other than work on your project. Find another hobby that you can enjoy or just take breaks in general. Yes, consistency is key, so take breaks consistently.
Everyone feels uninspired at some points. That’s natural. Go back to your initial goals and revisit why you started in the first place. If you are struggling to come up with solutions to a challenge, find new ideas and inspirations. Fuel your creativity through books, workshops, or like-minded individuals whose brains you can pick apart. Lastly, make sure to surround yourself with a positive environment that will keep your passions alive.
Balancing a day job with a side project is a challenging yet rewarding task. Hopefully, these tips will help you to do so. But remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. Embrace the learning experiences. Your passion project can be a means of personal growth for you if you let it. Just stay focused and motivated, and don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place.
It won’t always be easy, so we wish you the best of luck on your journey.