Ria Chopra, 25, has always had a keen interest in writing. Despite securing a placement in a top-notch management consulting firm after college, she found herself pulled into the world of freelance journalism in 2020. “Initially, I considered it a one-off or side hobby, not anticipating it would evolve into a significant side hustle,” she said.

The positive reception to her freelance articles motivated Chopra to turn it into a more serious gig. Additionally, her consulting job and writing complemented each other well. “The logical thinking from consulting enhanced my writing skills while penning articles gave me a creative outlook towards my job.”

Over time, Chopra’s side hustle has become one of her main income generators. She is among the many individuals who started side gigs due to an impetus through the remote work phenomenon during the pandemic that enabled employees to find spare time.

Karan Cheema, a Delhi-based professional, also discovered a digital marketing course online while working from home, pushing him to pursue it as a side gig. From working in an e-commerce startup to a fintech giant, Cheema simultaneously worked hard to build his own digital marketing agency — Witty Web Studio — oftentimes working overnight and losing out on sleep.

“I always knew in my heart that I wanted to do something of my own. I never wanted to be part of the rat race, working 9 to 5, and only contributing a fraction, so I used every bit of my remaining energy to build my side hustle,” he said.

Festive offer

However, soon things started going downhill. “Time management became super hard, and I started missing out on opportunities in my main job,” Cheema said, adding that “it was time to leave my job and fully focus on my own endeavours.”

Yashika Yadav, working at Madchatter, a public relations firm, found her boss to be the “loudest cheerleader” for her side hustle. Specialising in personalised handmade products using Macrame, a handicraft, Yadav started her small business in 2022. Guided by YouTube tutorials, the Mumbai-based professional dedicated her weekends to creating Macrame products.

“My first corporate order was from my own company — personalised dreamcatchers for Diwali gifting,” she said about how her employers supported her.

On the other hand, Merin Mariya, associate director at a corporate firm, manages four side gigs with her full-time job — modelling, content writing, anchoring, and freelance PR projects. She said side hustles become essential in an uncertain job market where layoffs and economic instability are rampant.

“To safeguard one’s livelihood, it’s prudent to establish a contingency plan. By having a backup income source in place, even if a full-time position were to disappear, one can avoid the stress and anxiety associated with financial instability. This provides the flexibility to search for a new job at a measured pace while ensuring that daily expenses are met without disruption,” she said.

Research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2021 discovered that out of the 10,348 respondents, 56 per cent cited wanting to save up extra money, 52 per cent needing to cover gaps or changes in their income, and 49 per cent as being able to control their own schedule.

However, for some businesses, side hustles present unique challenges. According to Murali Santhanam, chief human resources officer at AscentHR, his company, like many others, restricts double employment as it is a contractual breach. Though it does not have a specific policy for side hustles, having witnessed several employees engaging in this, Santhanam observed a decline in their performance.

Double employment or moonlighting is not to be confused with side hustles. While the former refers to having a second job, typically at night, the latter encompasses various income-generating activities beyond regular employment.

On the other hand, Aditya Joshi, CEO and MD at OpalForce, actively encourages his employees to explore side hustles. “Our main stipulation is ensuring these ventures do not conflict with our business interests or hinder workplace productivity,” he said.

Joshi believes those who pursue side hustles are quite focused and adept at maintaining a healthy balance between their job and entrepreneurial activities. “Engaging in side hustles can be beneficial as it offers people a perspective on management and business leadership.”

In fact, a 2021 study in the Academy of Management found that side hustles empowered individuals, making them feel like agents in charge of their work, which led to being emotionally and cognitively invested in the side hustle. Workers even carried forward the positive emotions to their full-time jobs, ultimately improving their performance.

So, how can you successfully start and maintain a side hustle?

Side hustle success stories,Balancing full-time job and side hustle, Starting a side hustle while working full-time Multitasking can compromise personal well-being. (Source: Freepik)

According to Chopra, the first step in embarking on a successful side hustle journey is to identify your passion and skills.

“Consider what you enjoy doing in your free time and your talents. This foundation will make your side hustle more fulfilling and increase the likelihood of long-term success.”

Next is to ensure that you are compliant with employment agreements. “Be open and transparent with your employer and seek permission if necessary to avoid conflicts of interest,” Pooja Inamke, industrial psychologist and counsellor, said.

Additionally, time management is crucial, explained Srinithi Sridhar, counselling psychologist. “It is essential to have a dedicated schedule that helps you manage your different expectations and allows you to maintain consistency. Blocking out selected hours for ideating, creating, implementation, revision, and marketing can go a long way in helping you build this schedule. Take time out to experiment with the energy and time you have to create this schedule.”

Multitasking can compromise personal well-being, so prioritising self-care — such as adequate sleep, exercise and downtime — is essential, suggested Inamke.

Cheema recommends individuals to “treat your side hustle like an expensive pet”. “You can’t sustain yourself or your pet without work, so always prioritise your main job, primarily because that’s the source of your income which gives you the resources to work on your side hustle. The day your side hustle gives you a return bigger than your main job is the day you can change your priorities.”

Successfully juggling a side hustle with a full-time job is undoubtedly challenging, but with determination and effective planning, it is possible to navigate both spheres.

“There will be setbacks and failures. Understand that this journey is a marathon rather than a sprint,” Inamke said.

Workplace Wellbeing is a weekly series about the ins and outs of our work lives.

By 111 Tech

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