Don’t Let Addicting Side Hustles Ruin You

Today I have a post from a personal finance blog-friend. Enjoy! I’m somewhat new to having a side hustle and I’ve quickly discovered just how addicting it can be. I find myself trying to dedicate nearly all of my free time to my blog. Even when I’m engaged in other activities, my mind somehow wanders…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 19, 2015

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Today I have a post from a personal finance blog-friend. Enjoy!

I’m somewhat new to having a side hustle and I’ve quickly discovered just how addicting it can be. I find myself trying to dedicate nearly all of my free time to my blog. Even when I’m engaged in other activities, my mind somehow wanders back to my side hustle. Quite honestly, it’s difficult to keep side hustle thoughts away.

What should I write about next? How can I make layout improvements to my site? What are some more effective ways to network?

Dedication like that can be a valuable trait when it comes to the long-term success of your side hustle. However, as I’m finding out, if you get too obsessed and lose sight of other priorities, then a side hustle addiction can be detrimental.

Most of you are well aware of how much time and dedication Michelle here at Making Sense of Cents has put into her side hustles over past couple of years.

She’s stated that a typical week consists of 80 to 100 hours – that’s 2+ full-time jobs! She’s obviously very organized and efficient, but I imagine even she has to make certain sacrifices.

As for me, I work as a senior financial analyst at a Fortune 50 company. My job can be quite demanding at times and it’s not unusual to put in 50+ hours a week. I’m also married and we have a 1 year-old son.

So, I’ve got some very important other commitments that must have priority over my side hustle endeavors. While I feel driven to make my side hustles as great as they can be, I’m well aware that I need to find a balance with everything else in my life. If I don’t, then the repercussions could render my side hustle efforts not worth it.

Below are some areas I sometimes find myself neglecting. I’ve also listed ways in which I’m trying to combat the side effects in order to find a healthy balance.

 

Physical Health

Every single one of us wants to be healthy. Some of us are more diligent in taking care of ourselves than others, but I would imagine nearly all of us would acknowledge we have room for improvement.

So much focus on your side hustles could be a hindrance to achieving that improvement or, worse yet, might actually cause your health to deteriorate. All the satisfaction derived or money earned from your side hustles won’t be worth it if you let yourself go and develop health issues.

  • Sleep – Many of us could probably work 24/7 especially when it comes to our side hustles. For those of us who also have a “regular” job, our only opportunities to maintain our side hustle come in the early morning, during lunch, or in the evening. Maximizing your time is one thing, but pushing yourself too long or too late might jeopardize your sleep. Be rigid with your schedule and have a cutoff time each night. Remember, an exhausted you is a less productive you!
  • Diet – When we are crunched for time, it’s easy and convenient to consume fast food or junk food. Food fuels our body though, so if you are putting garbage in your system, it’s going to zap your energy in the long run. Try to make healthy choices (trade that burger for a salad) even if it takes a bit more preparation time.
  • Water – Do you drink enough water? Lots of us don’t. Being dehydrated can result in low energy reserves. Have a water bottle handy at all times. You’re more likely to stay hydrated if your water supply is always next to you.
  • Exercise – You don’t have to be a gym rat. Hours upon hours of workouts are not necessary. Doing short, but intense workouts each day add up and can be highly effective.

 

Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health. There’s so much to accomplish and keep up with each day that it can make your head spin. Letting your mental health suffer is a recipe for burnout.

  • Take Breaks – Throughout the day, pause and take a few moments to clear your mind. Some deep breaths or fresh air can go a long way.
  • Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself – We all make mistakes or miss opportunities. Don’t be too critical or beat yourself up if you make a misstep or if you don’t immediately get the results you desire. Oftentimes you are your own worst critic.
  • Make Time for Yourself – We all need a little “me time.” Side hustles can be enjoyable, but you should also do other stuff for yourself. Read an interesting book or treat yourself to your favorite tv show every now and then.
  • Laugh – Laughter is the best medicine. A good laugh can relax you and change your whole demeanor in a positive manner.
  • Meditate – You can also try meditation. Set some time aside in the early morning or before you go to bed to clear your mind and meditate.
  • Social Interaction – Social activities are crucial for mental wellbeing. And, no, social networking via Twitter or Facebook doesn’t count. Make sure you are spending time cultivating and maintaining your friendships.

 

Relationships

Getting caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle makes it easy to disregard relationships with your loved ones. If a side hustle is cutting into your family time, then those around you might start resenting you and/or the side hustle.

  • Prioritize – To put it plain and simple, you must make it a priority to spend time with those who are important to you. Stop what you’re doing and give your significant other some affection. Go out of your way to play with your kids.
  • Quality Over Quantity – Emphasize quality time with your loved ones rather than quantity – make it interactive. In other words, have a meaningful conversation or play a fun board game instead of watching hours of tv together each evening.

 

Do you find your side hustle so addicting that it conflicts with other priorities in life? What tactics do you take to help balance everything out?

Would you give up your side hustle if it started causing other conflicts in your life?

 

About the author: Jeff, also known as Mr. Utopia in the blogosphere, is a senior financial analyst at a Fortune 50 company. A devoted husband and father, Jeff uses his “free” time to run Personal Finance Utopia where he chronicles his family’s journey to get their personal finances to an ideal place.

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Many people who are successful did and will put in lots of hours to get where they want to go and more. I think that drive and motivation is very important but not at the risk of health or relationships. No amount of money can be put on either. Life is too precious to let it pass us by buried in work just for money. Breaks are very important but for me I’ll keep it balanced. I’ve been working on that lately which has helped me out as blogging can become addicting and I haven’t really gotten into any side hustle work yet. Now that my new blog design is up and I’m on self-hosted I’ve opened up a whole new world. Let’s see how that goes. Great post and thanks for the tips. CBB

    1. That’s true, you can’t put a price on good health and strong relationships. It’s all about achieving balance. Hopefully these tips will aid in striking that balance.

  2. Mark Ross

    Great article Jeff! I will not give up my side hustle that easily if I would encounter some problems because of it. I would first find some solutions to it and if I can’t find one, then that’s the time that I would probably give it up.

    1. Thanks, Mark. Yes, if maintaining your side hustle becomes too burdensome, then giving it up would likely be the wise move so you don’t sacrifice your well being and relationships. Hopefully, that won’t happen though and perhaps the suggestions I’ve offered above will help out.

  3. This is such an important post for all of us who are trying to work a side hustle. I spend probably 60-80 hours a week between my full-time job and working on the blog, and it definitely forces sacrifice in other areas. I’m trying to be very intentional about getting to the gym and making time for relationships, but it’s definitely a struggle trying to balance things.

    1. I hear you, DC. Time management is absolutely crucial. When we know we are struggling or neglecting a certain area sometimes even little tips and tricks go a long way!

  4. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies

    I would absolutely give it up if it were interfering with my life. Extra money is great, but it’s not worth sacrificing relationships with those I love.

    1. Glad to hear your priorities are still in proper order. Hopefully you’ll be able to maintain a healthy balance if things ever started tipping in the wrong direction.

  5. For me, I am addicted to blogging but it doesn’t affect other areas of my life. Right now I am working a 9-5 and I have a three and four year old daughter. I don’t if you’ve ever tried but you just cannot sit in front of a computer when you have two preschool aged kids. It just doesn’t work and it’s no fun ๐Ÿ˜€ So, I wait until my girlies go to sleep every night to get on the computer and work on side hustles.

    1. Ha, Alexa, no I haven’t tried juggling side hustle work with two preschool aged kids. I do have a 13-month old son who just mastered walking so I imagine it’s pretty similar though. It makes it essentially impossible to concentrate on anything side hustle related. It’s awesome that you’ve got a reliable schedule in place. Hopefully you aren’t staying up too late each night after your daughters go to bed.

  6. You’re right about side hustles being addictive. I think that anyone who starts one is going to be motivated to make it work well, and it’s tough to make something work well if you’re only spending a few hours a week on it!

    My toughest time is early morning, because I try to read for a bit when I first get up, before my family is awake. It’s so easy to ignore my reading and start working my side hustle instead. Then I get frustrated at myself after a few days. Balance is key!

    1. Balance is key for sure. Another complicating factor is when unexpected events happen to throw that balance out of whack. In any case, prioritizing what’s important and then constantly reminding yourself is important lest you get too caught up with other stuff.

  7. I can relate to this completely. Even though blogging is a “job”, I don’t see it as that and can easily get lost in it. I have to remind myself to tap the brakes every so often. If I am feeling like watching a TV show instead, I’ll look back on what I’ve accomplished for the week. Most times, I afford myself to take the night off, just to relax and enjoy life. Sure the next day might be a little more hectic, but then you just have to prioritize. Maybe you leave a few less comments than you normally would for example.

    1. Good point, Jon. If you do have to make sacrifices, try to do so in areas that are of least importance or are things that you might be able to more easily catch up on later.

  8. This is exactly what I am currently struggling and thinking. I also work full time, have a 3-year old daughter, and recently re-started blogging. I found myself getting less and less sleep, prioritizing blogging over exercising and not giving my husband enough time. Striking a balance is everything and it’s a life-long learning experience. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah, that’s a dangerous trajectory to take. I think the good news is that as you become more efficient blogging then it’s easier to get into a routine thus allowing for it to be squeezed in with everything else that must be accomplished.

  9. Good post Jeff! I think these are important reminders for many of us, especially those that are doing side gigs. For us, we run our own business so it can be very difficult at times to make that separation – especially if we have work to do. We’ve learned that we simply need to schedule our down time. If we don’t the likelihood of it actually happening is slim to none.

    1. Thanks, John. Yes, I wrote this post from the perspective of a “side hustle” interfering with the rest of your life, but the principles seem applicable to someone blogging or freelancing as a full time job. In either situation, the “addiction” or work to be done can keep us away from things we want or should be doing (like keeping our health in good shape). I like the idea of “scheduling your own time.” Blocking off a portion of your daily calendar is a smart idea.

  10. When I started blogging, I used to spend up to 12 hours per day working. It wasn’t long until my body and mind couldn’t take it and fortunately I had the strength to realize that I’m not winning anything if I am hurting myself, so I pushed the brake pedal and took things slow. My best was working 3-4 hours per day for a few months and still getting very nice income (so it’s possible!) Now I’ve upped the hours a little bit as I am building a few new blogs, but as soon as they get somewhat established, I hope to be able to once again reduce the work hours to 4-5 per day.

    1. Trial and error, right? As long as we don’t get too much into the error territory! It’s good you noticed the signs of a possible breakdown and then were able to re-evaluate and get back on track.

  11. I can definitely relate to having the blog kind of take over your life. I find my mind drifting back to it all of the time, more than I would like. For me, the biggest worry is that it takes away from my mental presence when I’m with my family. I hate it when I find myself physically present with my wife or son but mentally off thinking about whatever random blog topic comes into my head. The balance is a struggle, but absolutely something worth making sure you get right.

    1. Well said, Matt. Mentally drifting toward your blog while spending time with family is a tough one for sure. It takes mental discipline to separate the two. In those situations, I try to remind myself that, if necessary, I could give up the blogging/side hustle tomorrow. In other words, be cognizant of what’s really important to you and family wins that battle every time.

  12. I was basically living the same life as Michelle until I quit my job. The only difference is that I have two kids!
    It sucked but I’m glad I went through it. Now I’m mostly enjoying the fruits of my labor!

    1. Going through struggles and then overcoming or reaching a goal usually makes it more worthwhile and satisfying. For those of us who haven’t been able to reach the “fruits of labor” yet (like me!), it’s important to not get too caught up in the side hustle and let other areas deteriorate. Otherwise it’ll be something less desirable than fruit to eat when all is said and done. You’re a good example of what it takes to make it all happen, Holly.

  13. I think it’s all about finding the right balance between work-side hustles-relationships-other responsibilities. It’s never a perfect formula, but if you value each of these equally, it seems to work out in the end.

    1. Agreed, it’s never a perfect formula. The goal is to not burn yourself out juggling everything and, of course, reminding yourself to keep up with the areas that are important but easy to neglect.

  14. Tammy R

    Hi Jeff, these are great points for life, not just for people with side hustles. I suppose each of us has to find out what it is all for – is it for money, fame, both? Is the side hustle to build up a sustainable business, so you won’t have to work so much – freeing you up to spend time doing things you love.

    While we love our blog, and it does have the added benefit of us writing together and planning together, it has to be put into perspective. If I am only allowed one activity for the morning – my five mile walk or my blog, I’ll pick my walk every time. I’m not relying on it for an income, though, so I know this would be a much bigger choice for someone who would lose money by not tending to their blog or side hustle. But, my question is, if you don’t make time for exercise, sleep, and healthy eating, how long will you get to enjoy the money you’re making by working all the time?

    1. Hey, Tammy. Yes, if one’s side hustle is more of just a hobby then that’s a bit different of a situation. De-emphasizing a hobby would be easier to do in order to tackle other things. So, I agree, it really does matter what the goals are for the side endeavor. I think lots of people are trying to make a decent side income and perhaps long term make their side gig a full time “job.” In these instances, the “addiction” to making the side hustle successful can really interfere with other important parts of life. That’s where planning and prioritizing come into play. And you’re spot on with the question you ask at the end of your comment…the payoff likely won’t be worth it if you lose everything else in the process.

  15. lyle @ the Joy of Simple

    Hey Jeff and thanks for a thoughtful post ๐Ÿ™‚

    I agree with Lady Hoombah that these are great points all around for a healthy, happy and balanced life. I am thankful that my side hustles are all relatively part time and IRL and while I am slowly beginning to get into the virtual side hustle I don’t think I’ll ever work as many hours as many of you all do. I’m just not wired that way!

    Thanks again and take care.

    Lyle

    1. You’re welcome, Lyle and thanks for the compliment. Knowing yourself is important and, based on your description, you’re faring well. Keep on maintaining that happy balance!

  16. No matter how busy I get, I make it a point to make time for myself, health and especially my family, after all they are the reason why I am working so hard.

    1. Well put. Providing a better life for our family is why most of us work so hard, but it’s pointless if we neglect them along the way.

  17. I’ve definitely become a little obsessed with my blog. I’m training for the marathon, so it forces me to get out and take care of my physical health and get some fresh air. I often get really good blog ideas when I’m running, so it works out for the best.

    1. That’s a good example of multi-tasking where you aren’t compromising anything. Efficiency is very beneficial. Hopefully you don’t forget any of your ideas by the time you’re done running. Good luck with the marathon!

  18. I tend to get obsessive with any endeavor I take on – from learning a new sport to a new skill (like blogging!). This was an excellent reminder that sometimes we all need to take a deep breath and a step back!

    1. Just remember, while we’d all like to be successful as quickly as possible, blogging isn’t a race! Neither is life!

  19. Connie @ Savvy With Saving

    I definitely have become a little addicted to blogging and side hustles. But at the same time, I know I need to prioritize other things like sleep and getting exercise. Otherwise, I just won’t have the energy to work a full time job and freelance on the side and both will suffer.

    1. And, if you push yourself too hard and let yourself go, then that might cause you to give up blogging and side hustles. It’s all related. Just keep reminding yourself to balance things out. Maybe my tips will help you out some?

  20. Buttercup

    I am a new blogger. I have been in the PF blog world for a while but didn’t decide to start my own until recently. I can totally see how it can take over your life very quickly. While it isn’t a bad thing to be involved I need to make sure that I make time for my boyfriend, friends and family. I also am making it a goal to include exercise in my schedule 6 days a week to help with my health and stress levels.

  21. Niki

    Great article Jeff! I’m also a FA for a major company, so I understand the hours. My “side hustle” doesn’t really make money right now, but I still don’t think I’d give it up, depending on the conflict obviously. It’s nice to have a community of individuals to bounce ideas off of and get constructive criticism from. But I agree that staying healthy and happy is of the utmost importance!

  22. When I started my blog, I worked in excess of 60 hours a week. I was working as much as my former career. I since cut back to a more realistic work week. It is important to have balance in your life.

  23. Jon @ Increase Credit Limit

    Excellent post! I am working full time, and working what I can on side hustles… being married (though no kids yet), it’s always important to keep that balance in mind… and trust me, if that balance gets missing, I’ll hear about it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we all want that successful side hustle… but just important to keep in mind that sometimes you have to know what to sacrifice and what not to sacrifice!

  24. I’ve been blessed that I haven’t worked the past year while I learned to blog and web design. And also figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my working life. I am returning to work on Monday so it will be interesting to learn how to juggle a demanding job, family, side hustles and life.

  25. Great article! I couldn’t agree more on maintaining physical and mental health as well as your relationships. I am one of those people who prioritises my health over my job and how much money I make. All the money in the world will not make me happy if I am unable to enjoy it due to poor health, exhaustion or depression. I think that “everything in moderation” is a key to a happy and healthy life.

  26. I’m definitely guilty of spending a lot of time on my blog, it’s something I really enjoy, but family time has to come first. I just need to be more organised in the time I spend blogging and make sure I’m fitting that in around my other commitments without it taking over! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I definitely enjoy my side hustles, but I have side hustles so that I can enjoy my life more. The idea behind taking on side hustles is to make extra money so I can take the vacations I want while still saving for retirement and other important things. There’s no point in side hustling if it ruins your life! Great points.

  28. Yeah, I am very happy that blogging turned into my full time job or the time I put in would have eventually ruined me for anything else.