I know many of you, like me, are juggling a side gig with a full-time job or other life commitments. Time is of paramount importance when you have so much going on. Over the past 3+ years of blogging, I’ve learned that some things just fall by the wayside when you are extremely busy, and you’re forced to either skip them or do them poorly.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click the link, I may make a small commission at no cost to you.
When I’m not at my 9-5, I’m working on shooting photos for the blog or Instagram posts. Or, I’m coordinating with brands who are interested in working with me, responding to general inquiries via email, attempting to schedule my content on social media, and then trying to come up with creative new topics and content for the blog itself. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard trying to be creative both at work and in my side gig. I do my best which means that sometimes, I end up falling asleep in front of my computer when the writer’s block hits or staying up until 5 am editing a video because I’m just not quite done yet. (Yes, both of these have happened. Maybe a bit more regularly than I’d like to admit.)
I’m sure your day sometimes looks like this, which is why I thought I’d share a few of my hacks for coping with two busy work schedules and some of the tricks I use to keep myself sane. Most of the time, anyway! ;)
Meal services for the win
Dave and I started subscribing to Plated about 2.5 years ago, shortly after I started blogging. Initially, I signed us up because I was getting discouraged trying to come up with different meal ideas that weren’t incredibly boring, but after awhile, it became the easiest way to guarantee we had food in the fridge!
When it gets busy, the first thing that often falls off my list is cooking dinner. Instead of forcing us into a life of takeout every night, Plated is delivered right to my door with fresh ingredients already measured out. I still have to chop and prep any vegetables that are part of the meal, but my time at the grocery store is significantly reduced, and I no longer spend hours scrolling through Pinterest looking for meal ideas. All meals sent by Plated are relatively easy and taste great. Packaging is recyclable, and there’s little to no food waste since the meals are portioned for two servings.
Best of all, Plated is offering a free dinner for 2 with your first purchase. If this sounds like a hack that could work in your household, definitely give it a try! You’re not obligated to buy meals every week and have your choice of meals, so you never have to receive something you despise. We take breaks from time to time, so don’t worry if you don’t want to be locked into Plated. They make it super easy to pick meals when you want them!
Divide and conquer housework
The thing I dread the most every weekend is catching up on household chores. How does so much laundry get piled up during the workweek?! Where do all the dust bunnies come from?! If you have the means, hiring help can be a huge game changer. It’s less stress and means that your home will always be clean.
For us, hiring help in our current living situation just doesn’t make sense, so, for now, we attempt to divide and conquer. Figuring out a way to equitably divide tasks with your significant other or roommate(s) is key. For us, it means me committing to laundry and Dave committing to the kitchen. I try to keep up with one small task each day, whether that means throwing in a new load of laundry or cleaning a toilet when I have an extra minute. It’s not the most glamourous thing in the world, but instead of spending one whole afternoon cleaning on the weekend, I’m able to slowly get everything done before the weekend hits.
Schedule and declutter your inbox and social feeds
My email inbox is pretty much a constant wasteland of unread emails, emails that are difficult to respond to, and generally, it is just a place of overwhelm. Fortunately, I’ve found a few tools that help me make it a bit more manageable (though honestly, this is always a work in progress for me.)
The first tool I use is Unroll.me to prevent my inbox from getting cluttered with sales and general promotions. You “roll up” subscriptions that aren’t vital to see everytime they hit your inbox into one big email, and each email can be opened based on your interest. It’s an easy way to see your inbox at a glance versus opening every single email that comes in. It’s also a great tool for mass unsubscribing to many distracting senders, or things you just aren’t interested in anymore.
I also use Boomerang for scheduling emails. This tool allows you to respond to emails, then schedule them for a more socially acceptable time to go out. I have a habit of responding to emails in the wee hours, but no one but me has to know that!
As for social media, I try to set it and forget it as much as possible. That means my Twitter feed is all handpicked by me, but tweets are scheduled, so I don’t have to be “there” all the time. For that, I use Buffer, which is a huge timesaver. Finally, I also use an Instagram scheduling tool, which makes planning my feed easier and allows me to upload a bunch of photos I’d like to have access to quickly and easily. That tool is Later (formerly known as Latergram), and the reminder to post that I get on my iPhone at the scheduled time is a lifesaver. (Note: this app does not post for you, as that breaks Instagram’s Terms of Service.)
Create an outfit formula
If you spend hours in front of your closet every morning trying to decide what to wear, put together a work outfit formula that you love. For me, it’s jeans, a cute top, a coat or sweater, a pair of comfortable shoes, and one accessory. I obviously switch it up when I have the time, but on days when I have negative five minutes to get ready, my formula works like a charm.
Just say no
This is something that is my goal for 2017. I want to say no to opportunities more often to open up the time to write and work on content I love, and to spend more time in real life. And when I do take on opportunities here on the blog, I’m trying to be better about only taking those that I feel 100% passionate about and am getting fairly compensated for. Time is valuable, and so are my fellow content creators. We all deserve to get paid for our time and work.
If you’re having trouble determining what to say no to when it comes to blogging (or anything, really) this post about when to say no to blogging opportunities might help. When I need a refresher, it’s a reminder for me to stay true to myself, my brand, and my message.
Prioritize and find hacks to accomplish your goals
Setting priorities for each day, week, and month are important to me. For me, that means sharing valuable content, getting more sleep, adding exercise, and eating better. There are a few “hacks” I’ve recently employed to make a few of these things easier.
To eat better, I’ve been simplifying my meals. When I’m working from home, a simple lunch of eggs on greens or packing just a salad to take to work is quick, easy, and healthy. Organic Girl greens are my favorite since they’re already washed and ready to go. (P.S. If you want to try this hack for yourself, Organicgirl is giving away a free year of greens, $500 in fitness gear, and $100 to your favorite grocery store. Score!) I’ve also been known to hit up the freezer aisle when in a pinch, and Amy’s Organic Meals are my favorite. And no, this isn’t sponsored, this is just what I buy! ;)
Adding in more exercise makes me feel better and gives me more energy to complete everything else on my priorities list. For that, I’ve been trying to get back in the habit of taking fitness classes and recently signed up for SoulCycle. They just opened a studio in Bellevue and last weekend I was able to take a couple of free rides during their grand opening. (Again, not sponsored, I was invited by friends, and I enjoyed it, so I’m sharing it with you.) While the studio isn’t super convenient to where we live, it just so happens Dave takes golf lessons in the area. Instead of wasting an hour while he’s at his lesson, I’m planning on riding and getting my cardio on.
Finally, getting more sleep means I’m able to share better content and not feel burnt and wiped out all the time. The holiday season is always a struggle around here because my inbox is filled to the top, my IRL work life is usually extremely busy, and family commitments have me feeling major overwhelm. This year it culminated into a five-day headache (yes, really) and I realized that I had been burning the midnight oil a bit too much. So far this week, I’ve been going to bed by midnight, and I’ve already noticed such a difference in my overall well-being. If you’re feeling wiped, take a few days off. It is absolutely okay to take a break, reassess, and reenergize. In fact, your content will be better for it!
Make a To-Do List of 3
New to making to-do lists? Or maybe you’re a former listaholic who gave up after feeling like a failure. (I’ve totally been there too, girl. It’s so frustrating!) Before giving up on the thought of creating an effective to-do list, try creating one that contains just three major items. It’s enough to feel accomplished without feeling completely overwhelmed. Or, opt for the 1-3-5 approach where you shoot to complete one big task, three medium tasks, and five little ones.
Ultimately, this is a work in progress even as I write this. I’m still working on getting to bed earlier, eating better, and not forgetting to enjoy my “real” life too. If you’re a fellow #GirlBoss who’s out there juggling many life commitments too, then a big high five, because you rock. I hope these hacks will help you juggle all of your commitments and provide you some relief in areas where you might be able to let go.
What hacks are helpful for you to balance a job, side hustle, and/or other life commitments? I’d love to hear how you manage it all in the comments!
Saying no is definitely something I struggle with! I’m constantly taking on tasks for other people that I legitimately have ZERO time for! Great post :)
I totally know what you mean. I still am working on telling others (and myself!) no more often!
Saying “no” to things – especially when they seem “good” – is so hard!!! But reminding myself that my sanity is also a valuable and exhaustible commodity helps;)
So true! It can really be hard to say no and I ‘m still working on it, but it’s good to know your own limits and stick to them. :)
Jen, your outfit formula is a great idea! I’ve been trying to figure out what makes a quick work outfit choice work well and you put it into words! I just now identified that what works for me is a skirt or dress with leggings, choice of shoes, sweater, scarf.
As for what works for me, I finally caved and hired someone to clean my house every two weeks. I’d love to get it in my budget for weekly, but for now, it’s working well. It’s so nice to know that even if I can’t get to it (which I NEVER do), that I will at least have a couple of days where my house is sparkling. Now I just need to focus on doing laundry and putting things away, instead of how to manage the cleanliness and tidiness pieces at the same time. When you’re working close to 60 hours a week, you get zero downtime if you’re trying to do everything. I’d rather spend that time with my people and my dog!
I recently started using Maven Meals, too, which is a local meal delivery service that brings food that is ready to eat and of great quality right to your door if you’re in the Seattle area. A coworker turned me on to this and it’s been great so far!
I’ve decided to stop shaming myself for being a terrible housekeeper and meal planner and just embrace those things and get some help. Sometimes you need to spend your money somewhere that it just doesn’t make sense to spend your energy and time. Let go of the fear of being judged. We’re all people and we do what we can.
Ooh, Plated looks great! I’ve tried Blue Apron and Purple Carrot before and really liked them but they can be a bit pricey.
Also, I might have missed it, but where is that shirt from? I LOVE it!
Your every-day hacks are great! I often have difficulties about outfits in the mornings, cleaning the house is one more issue, especially when working sometimes to 10 hours and every day in the week. I often hire professionals to clean at home, because the house is too big for me to ‘divide and conquer’. When we were living in a smaller space, this was the best strategy, but it’s almost impossible now. my husband and I prefer to spend the evenings together talking, reading, dining, but not cleaning. Though, love your way of thinking. Thanks for sharing these really good ideas!