It’s been 6 months since I left my full time job to take a part time role, and run my side businesses during actual business hours rather than squeezed into pockets of time in evenings and weekends and burning myself into the ground. There have been a lot of learnings along the way; some I expected, but many I didn’t, so I thought I’d do a 6 month round up of what it’s been like working part time in a job and part time for myself.
When I tell people about my work structure, I’m usually met with gasps and squeaky noises and giddy excitement about how that’s ‘the dream’, and don’t get me wrong, I get it. Compared to my previous structure of, well, not having any structure and just praying that I can get through my workload that I was doing for four years, yeah it’s the effing dream. But there are definitely challenges I hadn’t expected.
I of course acknowledge the privilege that I was given this opportunity during a pandemic, and I really am incredibly grateful for that. This is really just me sharing the good and the bad of my transition to part time work and part time business.
Giving my business the time of day
The first and most noticeable challenge, for me, was accepting that my side business was valuable enough for me to do on weekdays. There’s something about settling in to work for yourself on a weekday for the very first time, when everyone else is out doing their ‘proper job’, and when your business activities have usually belonged in evenings, weekends, public holidays and annual leave time. I didn’t expect to find that confronting, but I really had to grapple with my own self confidence that this was a real thing I was doing, it had real value in my life and it wasn’t just a silly thing I started on the side. As time goes on, I’m getting more and more used to it, but it definitely hit me in the face at first.
Having my weekends back
I hadn’t really realised how little free time I had until the pandemic hit and everyone was sharing their lockdown activities. Seeing people who were also still working say they were bored, finishing their 89th jigsaw of the month and baking sourdough and banana bread really highlighted to me how much time I spent on the tools. This really compounded as the pandemic escalated, and not being able to leave our apartment highlighted it even more.
Looking back, I think my new boss actually found me at the exact right time, because I now realise I was unknowingly on the brink of complete burnout in my old role. I did actually experience a bit of a breakdown in the first 2-3 months of my new role, and I think it was a huge release from the pressure I’d been under for so long.
Being able to plan my workload out throughout the month knowing I’ve got two whole days a week allocated to my own business was an absolute game changer, and allowed me the breathing room to actually understand my capacity rather than every single project being a tight squeeze.
The passion imbalance
A challenge I hadn’t expected was balancing the two identities I’m simultaneously living through – employee and self-employed multihyphenate.
Multihyphenate: a person who has several occupations. See also: slashie.
I’m the type of person who goes all-in on jobs. I thrive when I can throw my heart and soul into something, and so going all-in on two things at once has been a battle. Being able to give my whole heart to a job while maintaining the love of my business was harder than I thought it would be. Some weeks I’d be counting down to my business days, and others I’d genuinely be considering sacking off my business and seeing if I could go full time at work.
There will always be ups and downs on both sides of the coin, but with time I think I’m getting better at balancing my passion for both.
Switching my identity to match my environment
Another challenge of managing those two identities has been trying to fit into two different lives at the same time. I found myself concealing aspects of my business identity from people I work with, partly out of fear people would judge me, but also in an attempt to compartmentalise my life. Obviously this is substantially harder when running The Broke Generation means people know who I am and word spreads!
Trying to establish who I am as an employee of a new business (while working from home and navigating the pandemic at the same time) and who I am as a part time business owner has been really confusing.
A major part of this is working to two vastly different levels of responsibility, and in many ways, influence. On my self-employed days, everything is my responsibility. Not to mention I have thousands of people watching me and my content, which brings with it a level of influence. Yet on my days as an employee, I’m a small cog in a larger machine, which requires a completely different approach.
…oh yeah, and I’ve only met my coworkers twice
Oh yeah, that. The other factor exacerbating all these things is the fact that this has all happened during a pandemic. My first week at my new role was actually the week Melbourne entered its second wave lockdown. When I took the job, things were starting to reopen, there was talk of going back to the office, and things were on the up. The week I started, everything locked down again to stage 4 levels, and little did we know, that’s where we’d stay until November.
As a result, I’ve only met my colleagues twice, some of them only once. It’s no wonder the challenges all feel amplified. The very process of starting a job remotely really shook my confidence, too, which compounded into my emotional breakdown during the first few months!
Despite the ups and downs, it’s still the best decision I could have made, and I’d absolutely have regretted it if I hadn’t. The balance will come with time.