How Stress Can And Can’t Help You With Your Side Hustle

The right stressors will help you immensely — if you let them.

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

Nothing is at stake, so little gets done.

Working on side projects is my personal choice, and as a salaried worker, it won’t impact my ability to keep a roof over my head. In other words, I only have something to gain from my projects, but nothing to lose — except perhaps some self-respect — if I decide to drop them.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. (Parkinson’s Law)

As a result, I always, inevitably, end up wasting lots of time on small things that are, in the grand scheme of what I want my finished work to be, irrelevant. I’d be ashamed to admit just how much time I’ve spent making a logo, perfecting elements in the user interface, and so forth — when really, the key features are still missing.

Time off feels undeserved.

I told you about how stressed I’m not. Great. Now, let me tell you about how stressed I am— makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Take vacations every few months, take breaks every few minutes.

The same applies to personal projects, whether we like it or not. I found out I need to give myself a hustle-vacation every now and then if I want to be effective. And so do you, because even if you’re doing projects in your own free time, it still counts as work. Any creative effort with the purpose of generating a return, later on, is work.

Breaking the cycle

It should be obvious by now how these two elements — lack of stress, excess stress — end up feeding on one another, creating a disordered and unhealthy approach to side hustling.

Increase beneficial stress ↑

  • Set dates to show someone else your progress, for instance, demos of your product (leverages feelings of shame if you end up not delivering).
  • Have others be involved in your planning, for instance, seek out opportunities for commissioned articles with deadlines, as opposed to only writing for your blog.

Decrease destructive stress ↓

  • Schedule your time off as if it were a regular task in your project. No matter what you think, you do need to take that time.
  • If you like to wake up early, try achieving as much as possible before you start on your day job, as opposed to afterward. After all, if you have two blocks of personal time during the day, it’s easier to allocate one to side projects and one to winding down.

Final thoughts

While at first glance it might seem paradoxical that one might be stressed and not stressed enough at the same time, to me, it’s been a reality of spending my free time doing fully optional and self-driven work. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Writer of sorts.

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