Taking on freelance work when you already have a full-time career can help you earn more money, explore your interests, work on projects that you feel passionate about, and expand your professional network. However, it takes intentional thought and planning to strike a balance between the two. Here are four main principles I stick by to be successful in both my full-time job and the freelance projects I love.
There’s just no way around the fact that balancing a full-time career and freelance work requires a system of organization that enables you to stay on top of every deadline, appointment, and deliverable that comes across your desk. What I mean is LIVE AND DIE BY YOUR SCHEDULE (shout out to my Type-A people out there). Finding a system of organization that works for you is highly personal and only you know what’s going to keep you on track most efficiently. Personally, I’m a fan of OneNote because I can take my notes everywhere, no matter the client or project. But success in balancing both types of work means taking the time to figure out the system you are going to use before you start freelancing. Please trust me on that one.
Understanding Where Your Passion Lives
Not everyone wants to sit behind a desk for 9 hours a day, which makes the prospect of earning an income as a freelancer all that much more appealing. After all, who wouldn’t love sipping coffee in a pretty cafe while working on a project at their own pace? Let’s be real – that’s not always realistic. Much more commonly, people stay in their full-time careers so they can earn a dependable income while pursuing work they actually love through freelance projects. Having passion for your work makes life so much more enjoyable, but don’t forget where your bread gets buttered: you need to stay focused on the job that pays your bills or you won’t be able to fund the projects you’re passionate about. When I first started freelancing, I took on every project that came my way. “I can handle this, no problem!” I quickly realized that thinking about freelance projects all day was making me less productive at my full-time job. There’s a time and place for freelance work, and it’s important to know the difference. Kudos to you if you can quit your full-time job and freelance in pretty cafes all day – share your secrets with me!
Stay Focused on What’s Most Important
Professionals who work full-time and moonlight with freelance projects aren’t the best people to discuss the latest movies or TV shows with (except for Game of Thrones, obviously). Finding balance means making all 1,440 minutes in a day work on your behalf. Freelancing is a commitment, so if you find yourself spending lots of time on activities that don’t add value or productivity to your life, you could be on the verge of losing that work-work balance.
Choose Strategic Projects
With so much thought and intention poured into every moment you spend on freelance projects, don’t make the mistake of using all that precious energy on projects that aren’t worth your time. If a project doesn’t challenge your skills, enhance your portfolio, make you feel excited, or pay you well enough for the time spent, it’s better to decline the work and save your energy for the projects that light up your passion.
If you have any suggestions on balancing full-time work and freelancing, let me know in the comments. If it changes the way I work, I’ll add it to this post so we can all benefit.